Chapter 8: Surveys

Activity 1: View statistical information collected by different countries

No organization can exist without up-to-date information to help decision-making. National and regional governments are no exception. Nowadays, most governments disseminate much of this information online and you will find information that relates to many topics studied on early childhood degrees. It is worth investigating what information has been made public in the country where you live. A few examples of interesting websites are given here (this a snapshot from February 2017). (A note of caution: because websites are dynamic and ever-changing, the suggestions that are given here may no longer be available.)

(a) The UK


The main portal through which you can access all government departments. On the home page you will find a link to ‘Research and statistics’. When you follow this link, you will be directed to a page where you can use the search facility. Search for ‘children’ which will take you to a list of publications relevant to children. Choose one of the publications:

How was the data collected?

If a survey approach was used, was it a longitudinal survey or cross-sectional?

Who were the participants and how were they chosen?


A UK government initiative aimed to make non-personal data available to the general public. Once you get the hang of it, you will find that it is a good starting point for research.

Using the search engine on the website, request information ‘early years and childcare statistics’. This takes you to a page on ‘early years and childcare statistics’. Click on the link and it will take you to relevant resources. Investigate the OFSTED publication, ‘Main findings: childcare providers and inspections as at 31 August 2021’

The UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) collects and publishes statistics related to the population, society and economy of England and Wales.

Investigate the ONS website. Using the drop-down menu at the top of the home page, click onto People, Population and Community and explore the births, deaths and marriages section

(b) Singapore

The Department of Statistics Singapore compiles a wide range of statistical information about the country and analyses changes and trends relating to the economy, business, households and the population.

Explore the website: you may find it helpful to click on the A-Z facility at the bottom of the home page.

(c) Ireland

The Central Statistics Office Ireland (CSOI) collects and disseminates statistical information on economic, social and general activities in Ireland. Click on the CSOI link below, which will take you to a YouTube video that explains the CSOI conducts household surveys,

(d) Australia

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) collects and disseminates statistical information from all parts of the government (and other organizations) in order for the information to be used as an aid to decision-making, research and discussion. Click on the ‘census’ link at the top of the home page, it will take you to a link where you can learn about the 2021 census.

(e) USA

This will take you to a web page where you will find links to all sorts of statistics that relate to the USA. Using this link you will find the latest census findings.

This website contains all sorts of government reports and statistics. Insert ‘early childhood’ into the search facility and explore the links that come up.

(f) South Africa

This website contains all sorts of government reports and statistics. Use the search facility to find out resources on early childhood. Statistics South Africa | The South Africa I Know, The Home I Understand (

Activity 2

Sage research methods content

Read this article and then answer the following questions:

Chan, C. and Wang, W. (2012) ‘Chinese parental perceptions of weight and associated health risks of young children’, Journal of Health Psychology, 18(6): 837–47.

This article looks at a survey of parents and other caregivers of children attending pre-school provision in Hong Kong.

  • What was the aim of the research?
  • Is the survey primarily descriptive or analytical?
  • Is a longitudinal or cross-sectional design used?
  • What was the target population for this research project?
  • How was the sample obtained and what was the total number of participants?
  • Describe the methods used to collect data.
  • Why do the authors describe this research as ‘mixed methods research’ and why do you think this approach was adopted?
  • Why may some researchers consider that mixing methodologies is inappropriate? (You may find Chapters 4 and 5 of Research Methods in Early Childhood helpful.)
  • Summarize the overall findings of the project and consider the implications for practice.

Read this article and then answer the following questions:

Vigeh, M., Yokoyama, K., Matsukawa, T., Shinohara, A. and Ohtani, K. (2014) ‘Low level prenatal blood lead adversely affects early childhood mental development’, Journal of Child Neurology, 29(10): 1305–11.

This study looks at the relationship between the levels of lead in expectant mothers’ blood and the cognitive development of their children. It is a longitudinal prospective survey which followed the children up to the age of 36 months old. The study was conducted in Tehran.

Findings indicated that there was a correlation between the levels of lead in the expectant mothers’ blood and cognitive development in the children, the higher the lead level in the mothers’ blood, the lower the cognitive functioning of the children.

  • This is a correlational study. Can one conclude that high levels of lead in the mothers’ blood caused the observation that their children had lower than expected scores on tests of cognitive development?
  • What other factors may have had an effect?