Among the most disturbing – and difficult to remedy – of the data collection program losses from Statistics Canada is the termination of all of our existing longitudinal surveys.
- the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID 1993 – 2010 ; now cross-sectional)
- the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY 1994 – 2009)
- the Youth in Transition Survey (YITS 1998 – 2009)
- the National Population Health Survey (NPHS 1994-2011)
That’s decades worth of cumulative data that will no longer be followed up on.
The surveys are being replaced by a single new survey, the Longitudinal and International Study of Adults, which will at least help fill the gap left by the SLID, if not the others.
Longitudinal data is data that follows individuals over time; it is prized by researchers because it makes it much easier to show causation. In fact, according to some librarians I was discussing the topic with a couple of weeks ago, it is now difficult to get many types of survey research published in the better sociology, medical and economics journals unless longitudinal data is used.
Adding to the loss is the fact that the NLSCY and the YITS were the only major Canadian social surveys targeting children and younger adults. Want to know how children are developing in Canada? Well… can I interest you in some Australian data instead? How about Danish? Swedish? American?