English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA)

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The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) is a longitudinal study that collects multidisciplinary data from a representative sample of the English population aged 50 and older. The survey data are designed to be used for the investigation of a broad set of topics relevant to understanding the ageing process including economic position, physical and mental health, labour market activity, retirement and social networks.

UCL Research Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, Institute for Fiscal Studies, NatCen Social Research & University of Manchester School of Social Sciences

Geographic coverage - Nations

Geographic coverage - Regions

Start date

Catalogue record last updated


Sample type
Cohort study (Replenished); Ageing cohort

Sample details
Sample members are drawn from respondents to the Health Survey for England (HSE). Around 12,000 respondents from three separate years of the HSE survey were recruited to provide a representative sample of the English population aged 50 and over and their partners. At waves 3, 4, 6, 7, 9 and 10 the study was replenished with new study participants (refreshments) from HSE to maintain the size and representativeness of the panel. Two waves of data were also collected during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

Sample size at recruitment
12,100 individuals

Sample size at most recent sweep
7,242 (2023 - Wave 10)


Age at recruitment
50 years +

Cohort year of birth


Data access
Data request - see data access guidance https://www.elsa-project.ac.uk/accessing-elsa-data

UK Data Service

Genetic data collected

Linkage to administrative data
Environmental data
Health data
Income/tax and benefits

HDR UK Innovation Gateway
HDR Gateway

Additional information


Related themes
Covid-19 data collection, Biomarkers, Cognitive measures, Cognitive decline, Diet and nutrition, Digital technology and social media, Education, Ethnicity and race, Housing, Language and literacy, Loneliness and social isolation, Migration and immigration, Neighbourhood, Physical health assessment, Reproductive health, Sexuality and gender identity, Sleep problems, Social care - receipt, Social care - provision, Social care - need, Socioeconomic status and deprivation, Victimisation and life events, Work and employment

Key Papers

Reference paper
Cohort profile: the English longitudinal study of ageing.

Impactful papers using study data
Social isolation, loneliness, and all-cause mortality in older men and women. doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1219686110

The art of life and death: 14-year follow-up analyses of the association between arts engagement and mortality in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l6377

Immediate and Longer-Term Changes in the Mental Health and Well-being of Older Adults in England During the COVID-19 Pandemic. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2021.3749

National Institute on Aging
Department for Transport
Department of Health and Social Care
Department for Work and Pensions
Mental health measures timeline

Sweep name:

Cohort member age:

Data collection period:


Physical health measures:

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