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Gergö Baranyi – ESR6: Early life conditions, place and health in Scotland.


University of Edinburgh (Centre for Research on Environment Society & Health; Scottish Longitudinal Study).


Professor Jamie Pearce, Professor Chris Dibben, Dr Lee Williamson & Dr Zhiqiang Feng (contact: jamie.pearce@ed.ac.uk)

This study will examine how early health environment—including parent’s social class, educational attainment and neighbourhood living conditions—affect subsequent health and mortality. The project will make use of a cohort born in 1936, part of the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS), a 5.3% sample of the population that includes census data 1991-2011 and vital event data. This cohort is also linked to the 1947 Scottish Mental Surveys (SMS1947), an aptitude test taken by all 11-year-olds in Scotland. The SMS1947 provides an indication of early life conditions, families (including socioeconomic position) and then through to contemporary records of individuals in later life, including their medical records. This would allow important insights into, for example, neurodegenerative diseases. Further, given that the SLS includes census data, the highest educational achievement is recorded along with employment or more importantly last recorded job (the cohort would be 79 years old at time of the 2011 Census). Because the address (geocode) is available at most time points (i.e., events), it is feasible to use GIS to construct a range of geographical variables and examine the effects of constructs such as area-level deprivation, rurality, access to services and green spaces. The research will also connect with the ongoing Digitising Scotland (DS) project. DS offers (albeit on a more restricted basis) life-course data for a longer time period, and hence we can make use of data linked from transcribed birth, death and marriage certificates from 1855 onwards.

Scientifically, the research will reveal how social and environmental conditions in early life influence health later in life. It will consider whether these factors accumulate over the life course to affect health and/or there are critical periods during life where certain factors are particularly pertinent. It is envisaged that this novel work will lead to significant papers in key scientific outlets. The work will also lead to new GIS data sets that will map the distribution of health promoting and damaging characteristics across Scotland at different time points; this is information that can be readily used to help understand the nature of urban change, as well as the economic and social history of the country. Important new research data integrating individual life course data and geographical information be produced that can be reused for further research. This involves linking correct records inter-generationally to pick up information from parents’ records through to adding ecological look-up tables. Personal development opportunities include GIS and research methods courses offered by University of Edinburgh, AQMeN and the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods.

The expected results are:

6.1 Research design. Coherent research plan for the project.
6.2 Data production. Research data are produced that can be reused for further research by others. It will involve complex data manipulation and management, i.e., linking correct records inter-generationally to pick up information from parents’ records through to adding ecological look-up tables (use of merging, appending, aggregating data, etc.).
6.3 Analysis/algorithms. Longitudinal modelling of the data prepared, including survival, multilevel and GIS techniques to answer the research questions.
6.4 Working papers/articles. At least 2 working papers. Based on the longitudinal modelling results at least 1 LSCS working paper produced that will in turn be submitted to an academic journal. Plus, a working paper to document the approach taken on the data production stage.
6.5 Analytical tool. Personal development plan, including appropriate GIS and research methods courses
offered by University of Edinburgh, AQMeN and the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods.


Gergö is a PhD Student in Human Geography at the University of Edinburgh, where he is studying how the place where we live and age influence our mental health over the life course. He earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary and completed a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany. His Master’s thesis at the Robert-Koch-Institute in Berlin focused on associations between different measures of socioeconomic status and depression in the general population.

Before joining the LONGPOP project, Gergö gained work experience at various academic and governmental institutions. In Germany, at the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and at the Dresden University of Technology, he worked on projects addressing how rapidly changing working conditions in the 21st century affect mental health. His research project at the Queen Mary University of London evaluated evidence on psychiatric disorders in prisoners worldwide, by using meta-analyses and meta-regressions.

Contact: Gergo.Baranyi@ed.ac.uk

Link to his ResearchGate profile here.