TeenPath: Social Environment, Health and Well-Being Among Adolescents in Ireland

A person's physical growth, psychological development and personal behaviours in adolescence are the foundation upon which the life course is built. Health behaviours established in adolescence will likely continue into adulthood with long-term implications for health and life-expectancy. For example, 80% of teenagers measured as obese will remain obese as adults and so experience a substantially higher risk of disease later in life. Health and psychological development in adolescence can also have life-long consequences if they obstruct the person's acquisition of important skills and educational qualifications. Educational failure brings with it more unemployment, lower income and a greater risk of experiencing poverty across the life-course, all of which are associated with worse psychological and physical health and well-being.

This project seeks to understand how family, neighbourhood environment and parental social and economic position interact with individual characteristics such as such as sex, personality and temperament, to shape mental health, health behaviours and educational outcomes at the end of secondary schooling and at the cusp of adulthood in Ireland. We ask three inter-linked questions: "How do peer relationships and exposure to social media influence the risk of developing anxiety and depression?"; "How do family, neighbourhood and individual characteristics shape the development of health behaviours such as diet, exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption?"; "Did the financial crisis and recession experienced in Ireland between 2008 and 2014 influence educational outcomes at the end of senior cycle and if so, how?"

The project will use innovative statistical methods and quasi-experimental designs to analyse large-scale, longitudinal data from two national cohort studies following child development from birth to 18 years. Research findings from this project will provide evidence about what factors in the child's environment in childhood and adolescence are modifiable and so possible targets for changes in policy and practice.

Award Date
06 October 2019
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor Richard Layte
Host Institution
Trinity College Dublin
Secondary Data Analysis Projects