Young Lives at Work (YLAW), was launched with new funding from UK's Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in 2019. It continues to follow the original study children in Ethiopia, India (Andhra Pradesh and Telangana States), Peru and Vietnam, into youth and young adulthood using our quantitative survey method.
The project aims to investigate how education and skills shape young people's opportunities as they move in to the labour market.
When Covid-19 hit, the research team adapted to a phone survey method to find out how the pandemic was impacting young people in our study.
Between 2020 and 2021, the team conducted a 5 call survey publishing headline findings and policy recommendations. Methodological and technical resources, as well as the research outputs, news and blogs are available below, and the data can be accessed for free via the UK Data Service.
With continuing support from the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, as well as funding from the Wellcome Trust for innovative survey modules around mental health and wellbeing, Round 7 of our quantitative survey, is now taking place, and taking our teams back into the field for the first time since 2016.
Putting together a full Young Lives Survey Round is a complex and meticulous task. The team have been working on this for several months and will continue apace while the survey rolls out and subsequently once the data are compiled and analysed. There are a number of essential stages involved leading up to the commencement of a survey round:
Tracking is where we try and locate all the previous participants in our study across the four study countries. For the first time, we contacted participants by phone, only visiting for a face to face tracking interview if contact had not been possible. We have completed the tracking in all four countries, with an astounding average retention of 82%.
Ethical approval for the data collection was granted following our application in February 2023.
Pre-pilot and SAQ
In advance of the data collection, we pre-pilot - test -, aspects of the survey, including the main questionnaire, a new self administered questionnaire (SAQ) - including an audio version - and potential new survey modules.
The pre-pilot of the face to face questionnaire covered questions on basic socio-demographics as well as new modules covering risk, time and social preferences, stress, and what people value in their job. The SAQ contains questions on the experience of violence, tobacco, alcohol, drugs consumption, sexual and reproductive health, attitudes towards abortion and LGBT people, and thoughts on safety on the internet and on social media
Pre-piloting was carried out in Peru and India during November and December 2022 by enumerators and fieldwork staff, trained in the various activities to be tested. Feedback has been assessed and will now be used to finalise the survey.
Revision of the “core modules” (i.e. survey modules included in previous survey rounds)
As well as feedback from the pre-pilot, the core modules were finalised to reflect the current age of the participants, and to take into account the unusual circumstances of the pandemic since the last in person data collection (Round 5).
For example we plan to collect information on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on both education and employment choices. We will also dedicate more time in the survey to questions related to work choices and skills. More time is also planned for questions to our Younger Cohort (approximately 22 years of age) on employment, family formation, marriage, parenting, and any children born since Round 5.
There is also the addition of modules on mental health and wellbeing that aim to investigate the impact that adverse events have on stress levels. This information is being collected in an innovative new way, with the collection of hair samples being used to measure cortisol (the stress hormone) levels.
The SAQ contains questions on sensitive topics, such as experiences of violence and/or trauma, and we plan to use an audio version for the first time in two YL study countries (Ethiopia and India) where low literacy might be an obstacle.