Longitudinal Cohort Study on the Filipino Child (LCSFC)


In 2015, the United Nations formally launched the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)1 building upon the progress achieved by the 2000 Millennium Development Goals (MDG)2. In fact, the SDG agenda aims to finish the job started by the MDG in terms of ending extreme poverty, fighting inequality and injustice, and ensuring environmental sustainability for all.

In the Philippines, the SDG implementation period (2015-2030) falls within the window (2015-2050) when the demographic phenomenon called the “youth bulge” is expected to occur3,4. This phenomenon, marked by a historic increase in the proportion of the population between the ages of 15-29, appears to be a window of economic opportunity with more young people potentially reaching working age, thereby increasing the country’s capacity for growth alongside the subsequent decline in dependency ratioa.

An important response to this phenomenon is to ensure that these young people reach working age physically and mentally healthy, sufficiently educated, empowered and ready for work. Correspondingly, necessary infrastructures have to be in place to meet the needs of this growing sector, particularly the increasing number of job seekers. A number of factors threaten the Philippines’ claim to the first “demographic dividend” or the potentials for increased per capita income given the increase in labor force3. Among these are the relatively high rate of stunting5 which is associated with poor human capital in adulthood6, high prevalence of risky sexual behavior among adolescents7, and increasing rates of adolescent pregnancy particularly among the poor8.

To understand how the SDG agenda contributes to the welfare of our young population in the course of its implementation, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Philippine government led by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) launched the Longitudinal Cohort Study on the Filipino Child (LCSFC). The motivation was to obtain a comprehensive perspective from the point of view of Filipinos who transition from childhood to young adulthood or working age within the SDG timeline. The LCSFC is a 14-year prospective cohort study on a nationally representative sample of Filipino children who were age 10 in 2016, when SDG-focused programs started to be implemented, and who are followed through the SDG 2030 endline at age 24. Repeat survey rounds are scheduled covering significant milestones in the lives of the cohort from age 10 thru 24 (i.e., puberty, school completion, entry into labor force, sexual activity initiation, and marriage) in the course of various stages of the SDG agenda implementation. The 2015 Census data show that about 30% of Filipinos are in the 10-24 age group (PSA 2017)9. It is therefore crucial that key program intervention points are identified to ensure that this mass of young Filipinos are primed to reach young adulthood healthy and equipped with high social and human capital.

The study collects multi-level data [individual (cohort and their mothers), household and community] using mixed methods (survey, focus group discussions, in-depth interviews). Data on key outcome variables covering 13 of the 17 goals are collected in the study. The main analytical objectives are a) to identify individual-, household- and community-level factors that significantly influence the key outcomes directly and synergistically, and b) to understand the mechanisms through which exposure to programs and interventions influence these outcomes over time.

The survey sample was selected to be nationally representative of 10-year old Filipinos, from the country’s three main island groups of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, and the sampling design implicitly included marginalized children [specifically from indigenous peoples (IP) and households with disabilities]. The goal was to retain a final sample of about 2,000 of the sample at Endline in 2030. To achieve the target endline sample, our estimates indicated that we need to enroll about 5,000 10-year old children at Baseline. We used a two-stage sample selection scheme. Barangays were selected using probability proportional to size systematic sampling. In each sample barangay, sample children were selected using equal probability systematic sampling. Implicit stratification was used to ensure selection of urban-rural sample barangays with children considered as vulnerable (IPs and with disabilities). The final sampling draw yielded 345 barangays. We aimed to enroll 15 households per barangay, obtaining a maximum target sample of 5,175 households, to provide enough margin to get at the desired sample size of 5,000 across all domains. At the completion of the Baseline survey we recruited 4,952 households with 10-year old children.

The LCSFC is a partnership involving the Philippine government through the National Steering Committee which consists of lead government agencies and chaired by NEDA, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UNICEF, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia and renowned demographic research institutions in the country. The USC-Office of Population Studies Foundation, Inc. (OPS) is the implementing agency for this study in collaboration with the following research institutions, which are based in the country’s three main island groups:

Luzon: Demographic Research and Development Foundation (DRDF)
Visayas: Center for Social Research and Education (CSRE)
Mindanao: Research Institute for Mindanao Culture (RIMCU)

Study results will be used by government agencies in their policy planning and in evaluating currently implemented programs. Data use agreements are set up by the UNFPA for researchers and stakeholders interested in LCSFC study data that are available for release. >> read more