Successful Transitions: Findings From the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth

This work is comprised of a two-and-a-half year program of Successful Transitionslongitudinal research on the developmental outcomes of Canadian children and youth. The research team will analyze longitudinal data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY). The research will focus on the life trajectories of Canadian children as they develop during the early years, and then make the transitions from pre-school or home care to elementary school, from elementary school to middle school, from middle school to high school, and from high school to their post-secondary or labour market destinations. The emphasis of the work is on how various life circumstances, which to some extent can be altered by social policy, alter the trajectories of key developmental outcomes. Although one can never claim causation with survey data like the NLSCY, research based on longitudinal data that estimates the extent to which changes in particular life circumstance alter developmental trajectories provides a much stronger case for inferring causation. This research will provide a coherent framework describing when in the life-course is the best time to intervene, what risk and protective factors are most important across a comprehensive range of outcomes, what type of interventions (e.g., targeted vs. universal) may be most appropriate, and where (e.g., urban vs. rural, province) resources are most needed.

The research will be carried out by a multi-disciplinary, pan-Canadian team of top Canadian scholars who are experts in their respective fields and have published in the area of child development. The team will be led by Professor Douglas Willms, Canada Research Chair in Human Development and Director of the UNB Canadian Research Institute for Social Policy (CRISP). In starting the work a team of analysts will prepare a "measures document" that will provide a common set of outcome measures and risk and protective factors to be used in all research papers. This will insure uniformity in the series and provide a technical document regarding issues such as the scaling of variables and their reliability. It will also help make the NLSCY data more accessible to Canadian researchers by providing a common syntax for NLSCY projects and information on the reliability and validity of derived variables. The main deliverables for the project include 16 papers for an HRSDC series on child and adolescent development, a book that summarizes the research for a policy audience and professional policy decks of slides for presenting the work.


Human Resources and Social Development Canada

Research Team


  • Doug Willms
  • Lucia Tramonte
  • Nicole Letourneau
  • Renjun Ma
  • Joan Beswick
  • Nuan Chin
  • Barry Watson
  • Beth Fairbairn


  • Alexa Bagnell (IWK)
  • Marni Brownell (U Manitoba)
  • Tom Boyce (UBC)
  • Lisa Strohschein (U Alberta)
  • Susan Dahinten (UBC)
  • Jennifer Shapka (UBC)
  • Rubab Arim (UBC)
  • Anne Gauthier (U Calgary)
  • Nancy Ross (McGill)
  • Veronique Dupere (U Montreal)