This project investigates the consequences of family complexity for children’s outcomes (e.g., health, behaviour, and wellbeing) in the UK applying advanced longitudinal methods to data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study.
The first novelty is the project’s substantive focus on longitudinal linkages between children’s outcomes and the complex structure of their families. Families have become increasingly complex due to the dramatic rise in cohabitation, separation, non-marital childbearing, and multi-partner fertility. Existing evidence suggests that aspects of family complexity such as parental separation have a negative impact on child outcomes. However, there is a paucity of longitudinal evidence, which takes into account parallel changes in parents’ and children’s lives. Furthermore, these processes might vary between children from different socio-economic and ethnic minority backgrounds.
The second novelty is methodological and lies in modelling the interrelationship between the lives of children and their parents. Previous studies have not analysed whether and how parents’ and children’s lives are longitudinally interdependent. To do this, we will use advanced longitudinal methods, which are not only suitable to study changes in children’s lives over time but can also model these linkages. We will model parents’ family life transitions and children’s outcomes simultaneously over time taking into account changes in family structure and circumstance alongside changes in children’s outcomes. First, we will use multi-process models, which allow us to model and account for the interdependence between children’s outcomes and their parents’ family transitions as interdependent processes. Second, we will use multi-channel sequence analysis, a data mining approach where each individuals’ life is represented as a sequence of events and it is possible to jointly model several dimensions such as health status and family structure as two interrelated channels. We will compare the results across different socio-economic and ethnic groups.
Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:
• A first class or an upper secondary undergraduate or master’s degree in any area of social science (including statistics and applied mathematics)
• Have a good grounding and/or interest in quantitative methods
• Have an interest in studying complex family trajectories and their consequences
Students must meet ESRC eligibility criteria. ESRC eligibility information can be found here*: https://esrc.ukri.org/skills-and-careers/doctoral-training/prospective-students/
The scholarship is available as a +3 or a 1+3 programme depending on prior research training. This will be assessed as part of the recruitment process. The programme will commence in October 2020. It includes:
• an annual maintenance grant at the RCUK rate (2020/21 rate £15,285 full-time)
• fees at the standard Home/EU rate
• students can also draw on a pooled Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year http://www.sgsss.ac.uk/studentship/family-complexity/
Applications will be ranked by a selection panel and applicants will be notified if they have been shortlisted for interview by the end of April 2020. Interviews will take place during the week of 4th May 2020. Skype interviews are possible.
All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within the University of St Andrews. Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.