Advancing the science of child and adolescent development: Do we need a new household panel survey?

Terri J. Sabol*, P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This paper examines the extent to which a new nationally representative household panel survey could bring children and adolescents to the forefront of its design. We begin by discussing how major demographic shifts, such as reduced social mobility and transformations in family structure, may affect children and adolescent development through individual, family, and sociocultural processes. We then review the existing household surveys in the United States and highlight the strengths and weaknesses for studying how major societal trends and changes affect child and adolescent development. We then debate several different design approaches for a new study and recommend either a longitudinal panel design, which includes all children in the panel survey, or a sequential cohort design, that includes a subsample of children and embedded birth cohort study. We highlight that a large, nationally representative dataset cannot replace standalone, more in-depth developmental studies of children and adolescents with high-fidelity measurement of processes. Instead, we argue that a new panel survey could take a more targeted approach and measure the major constructs of children's development as well as select family and sociocultural processes by drawing on recent advances in survey measurement techniques. We conclude by affirming that new household survey has the potential to contribute greatly to our understanding of the developmental origins of life long wellbeing as well as the effects of major demographic shifts in the 21st century on child and adolescent development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-229
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Economic and Social Measurement
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Aug 18 2015


  • Child and adolescent development
  • birth cohort and longitudinal studies
  • household surveys
  • measurement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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