FSD Bulletin

Issue 20 (2/2006)

ISSN 1795-5262

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FSD Bulletin is the electronic newsletter of the Finnish Social Science Data Archive. The Bulletin provides information and news related to the data archive and social science research.


Finnish Social Science Data Archive
E-mail: fsd@tuni.fi

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Finnish Life Courses 1971 - 2002

Hannele Keckman-Koivuniemi

The Department of Education at the University of Jyväskylä has studied the impact of intelligence, social background and educational career on life course. The research project covered the years 1971-2002, and was led by Professor Jorma Kuusinen. The data have now been archived at FSD, and consist of an ITPA test, information on the participants' school achievement and education, and two surveys.

Longitudinal research

The research project began with developing the Finnish ITPA (the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities) in 1968. The ITPA measures verbal intelligence of 3-9 year old children, and includes 12 subtests which measure decoding, processing and encoding of auditory and visual information, and auditory and visual short-term memory.

The target population consisted of 3-9 years old children living in Jyväskylä. Research subjects were selected with a stratified sample which resulted in a sample of 700 children, 100 in each age group, with both sexes equally represented.

In 1970-1973 the children's verbal intelligence was measured with the ITPA test. In the 1980s data were collected on school achievement and performance, and educational choices after lower secondary education. A survey in 1991 studied the participants' educational and occupational career, housing, social relationships, income, health, leisure time activities etc. Further questions covered levels of satisfaction with life, and whether the respondents felt they had achieved their goals.

In 2002, when the participants were approaching middle age, another survey was conducted. Many of the questions presented in 1991 were repeated. Leisure time activities were studied in more detail. New themes included factors influencing people's choices in life, and what brings security or insecurity to life. In addition, register data on the participants' education and occupation were gathered. More information was gathered on the income, education and occupation of the parents, and also on the income and wealth of the respondents.

Life management and happiness

The data have been used in several theses, research reports and scientific articles. The results show that linguistically talented children and children from families with a high social status have the best chance of succeeding at school.

Talent seems to affect performance at school only in case of children coming from families with a middle social status. Children from the high social class do well anyway regardless of talent, and those from low social status families do not do well even if talented. Social status affects young adults' life management, such as the likelihood of succeeding in life and feeling happy. However, the ideas people have of their own person and possibilities have the biggest impact on happiness and subjective well-being.

The dataset FSD2076 is now available for research and teaching purposes, and will be translated into English on request.