Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Survey & British Household Panel Survey (UKHLS)

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Overview

Aims
Understanding Society is a largescale longitudinal survey of approximately 40,000 households across the United Kingdom. As a multi-topic household survey, the purpose of Understanding Society is to understand social and economic change in Britain at the household and individual levels by capturing important information about the social and economic circumstances, attitudes and behaviours and health of people living in thousands of households. The Understanding Society study is a successor to the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), with the BHPS sample forming part of Understanding Society from Wave 2 onwards.

Institution
Institute for Social & Economic Research (ISER), University of Essex

Geographic coverage
United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland)

Start date
Understanding Society: 2009
BHPS: 1991

Sample

Sample type
Household panel survey

Sample details
The UKHLS began in 2009 with a representative probability sample of households. In addition to this General Population Sample (GPS), an Ethnic Minority Boost (EMB) sample was recruited to provide at least 1,000 adults from each of five groups: Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Caribbean, and African from Wave 1 (UKHLS). A further Immigrant & Ethnic Minority Boost Sample (IEMB) of around 3,000 households was added at Wave 6. From Wave 2, over 6,000 participants from the BHPS sample joined the UKHLS.

Adult household members (age 16 or older) are interviewed and complete a self-completion questionnaire, and household members aged 10-15 years are asked to complete a short self-completion youth questionnaire. Children become eligible for a full interview once they reach the age of 16. New household members at each wave are recruited to the study – detailed following rules are available in the UKHLS User Guide.

Sample size at recruitment
39,802 households (Wave 1 Understanding Society)

Sample size at most recent sweep
36,559 individuals (Wave 6 Understanding Society)

Sex
All

Age at recruitment
11 years +

Cohort year of birth
Various

Data

Data access
UK Data Service
understandingsociety.ac.uk/documentation/access-data

Genetic data collected

Linkage to administrative data

Additional information

Website
understandingsociety.ac.uk

Related Themes
Administrative data, biomarkers, cognitive measures, diet and nutrition, education, ethnicity and race, genetic data, housing, income and socioeconomic status, loneliness, migration and immigration, neighbourhood, personality measures, political and social attitudes, work and employment, mapping and spatial data, COVID

Notes
Includes all waves of the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS). Northern Ireland included in the BHPS after 2001.

Reference paper

Buck N, McFall S. (2012). Understanding Society: design overview. Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 3, 5–17.
doi.org/10.14301/llcs.v3i1.159

User guides also available.

Funders
Economic and Social Research Council
Department for Work and Pensions
Department for Transport
Department of Health and Social Care
Department for Education
Department for Culture Media & Sport
Department for Communities & Local Government
Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Scottish Government
Welsh Assembly Government
ONS
Food Standards Agency

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