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Saturday, 8 April, 2000, 01:07 GMT 02:07 UK
Study team hunts 30-somethings
crowd scene
Some "very special people" cannot be contacted
Researchers are looking for up to 6,000 people born 30 and 42 years ago this week who are "missing" from two major studies.

The individuals amount to about 20% of the London University researchers' study group - leaving a significant hole in the data.

The Centre for Longitudinal Studies in the university's Institute of Education is appealing to them to get back in touch.

We are appealing to everyone born in those weeks who hasn't yet been contacted to phone, e-mail or write to us now.

Professor Neville Butler
The studies interview participants every year to find out how their experiences affect their lives.

Research director John Bynner said: "It's like a complex jigsaw puzzle that's fallen out of its box.

"If you don't find every piece, you can't finish the puzzle. If enough pieces are missing, you may not get a clear or total picture."

'Living diaries'

The studies it is doing are called the 1970 British Cogort Study and the National Child Development Study.

They began 30 years ago, following the lives of two generations of people born between 5 - 11 April, 1970, and 3 - 9 March, 1958.

Most have been tracked ever since, providing the researchers with "living diaries" of their childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

The Education Secretary, David Blunkett, David Blunkett, has called the studies "extremely rich sources of data and analysis enabling us to understand the key factors which determine individual success and failure, many of the causes of social exclusion and the dynamics of poverty."

The founder of the project was Professor Neville Butler, Director of the International Centre for Child Studies.

"The people in our study come from all walks of life, from barristers to builders, pop stars to plumbers, and include several household names," he said - though the names of all the participants are kept confidential.

Letters sent out

"By interviewing them regularly over the years, we have built up a store of information that is unique in the world and has made vital contributions to scientific knowledge and government policies.

"As time goes on, these life histories become ever more valuable, showing how experiences in early life can influence people's paths as they grow into adulthood, middle age and beyond.

"These very special people are being interviewed now. We are appealing to everyone born in those weeks who hasn't yet been contacted to phone, e-mail or write to us now."

Letters to all the participants went out as usual this year, followed up where necessary by more active searches. Approximately two thirds have now been interviewed.

Of the others, about half have arranged interviews - but the rest have not been heard from.

The main reasons that people drop out is that they have moved and not left forwarding addresses, or have married and changed their surname.

  • The researchers can be contacted by phone, free, on 0500 600 616, or by e-mail to, or by letter c/o Freepost KE7770, London, WC1H 0BR.

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