A £33.5 million project is to be launched to follow the lives of 90,000 British children to find out what makes society healthy and happy.
The project will begin in 2012, and will be the largest in a series of cohort studies of the population.
The study will differ from previous research, as data will be collected from parents as well as children to give more insight into families' different social, economic, biological, environmental and health factors, and the roles they play in young people's lives and life chances.
Science minister David Willetts said of the scheme: 'Birth cohort studies provide a unique insight into all the factors affecting people's lives and are central to our understanding of child development.
'They produce powerful evidence that informs Government policy on a wide range of issues, including social mobility, inequality, education and public health.
'This in turn has positive economic impacts through changes in the delivery of public services, earlier diagnosis of diseases and improvements in quality of life.
'The 2012 study is the largest yet. This research will help us understand more about the needs of individuals than ever before, and ultimately strengthen the fabric of our society.'
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg supported the plan, adding: 'This Government is committed to the long term - to making decisions today that will promote a better future: a more prosperous economy, and a fairer society.'
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