Summary

This page provides information on the type of data you can access through the UK Data Service. It also lists some of the key dataset themes you can search for.

Types of data available

The UK Data Service provides access to the UK’s largest collection of social, economic and population data for research and teaching purposes covering a range of different disciplines.

The data comes from a variety of sources including official government agencies, international statistical agencies, individual academics with research grants, market research agencies and historical sources.

The majority of these data are fully anonymised, unless otherwise specified in their online catalogue records, and are therefore not suitable for genealogical users or family historians.

The types of data available include:

Quantitative data

  • Microdata are the coded numerical responses to surveys with a separate record for each individual respondent
  • Macrodata are aggregate figures, for example country-level economic indicators
  • Data formats include SPSS, Stata and tab-delimited formats

Qualitative data

  • Data include in-depth interviews, diaries, anthropological field notes and the complete answers to survey questions
  • Data formats include Excel, Word and Rich Text Format (RTF)

Multimedia

  • A small number of datasets may include image files, such as photographs, and audio clips

Non-digital material

  • Paper media could include photographs, reports, questionnaires and transcriptions
  • Analogue audio or audio-visual recordings

Data by theme

We have grouped datasets together on separate web pages to aid researchers looking for data on particular themes.

Our theme pages include:

Ageing

The rise in life expectancy has led to a focus on the social factors related to ageing, such as longer working hours, pensions, heath and quality of life. Social inequalities caused by increasing longevity also raise a complex set of challenges for policy makers. The UK Data Service holds a variety of data collections related to ageing, from key government and longitudinal surveys to international indicators and qualitative historical interviews. Data collections related to ageing.

COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives dramatically and has given rise to many questions about the health, social and economic impact on our nations. Data have been collected and are made available on topics such as finance, employment, education, ageing, food, crime, the environment, attitudes and much more. In this rapidly changing landscape, the data will continue to adapt. It is expected that many studies will begin to include questions specific to COVID-19, and when ready much of this data will be made available through the UK Data Service. Data collections related to COVID-19.

Crime

As a theme, crime may cover topics ranging from contemporary concerns over youth gangs and anti-social behaviour, through ‘white collar’ and corporate crime, including crimes against the environment, to serious violence. Crime-related data held by the UK Data Service include not only national crime surveys, which themselves cover diverse issues such as identity theft and alcohol-related disorder in the night-time economy, but also illegal drug use, workers in the criminal justice system, football hooliganism and community policing in Africa. Data collections related to crime.

Economics

The theme of economics takes in various topics including economic activity, public spending, fiscal policy, taxation, trade and productivity. The UK Data Service holds a variety of data collections related to economics from key government and longitudinal surveys to international indicators. Data collections related to economics.

Education

Education is a key factor in shaping an individual’s life chances. It is also regarded as central to a country meeting the demands of the knowledge-based economy in an increasingly competitive and globalised world. The UK Data Service holds a wide and rich range of data collections suitable to shed light on all sorts of education-related research questions, from key longitudinal studies to international microdata, government data and qualitative data collections. Data collections related to education.

Environment and energy

The long term effects of human activities on the environment have become public issues of much concern, and climate change and sustainability are critical policy and research priorities worldwide. An understanding of the interactions between society and the natural environment at all levels, local, regional, national and trans-national, is critical for the development of sustainable societies, and the UK Data Service provides access to data ranging from household energy use to global databanks on greenhouse gas emissions, conservation and the production and consumption of oil, gas and electricity worldwide. Data collections related to environment and energy.

Ethnicity

Ethnicity constitutes an important element of the social world, and for many, a central element of personal and social identity that shapes relationships and that cannot be ignored. Collecting data on ethnicity is challenging because of the different processes involved in shaping ethnic identities, and the subjective, multi-faceted and fluid nature of ethnic identification. In the UK a range of surveys collect information on ethnicity, and at both local and national levels, this information is vital in building a picture of the circumstances of ethnic minority populations and their relationships to the ethnic majority population over time in order to ensure effective development of policy such as addressing ethnic inequalities. Data collections related to ethnicity.

Food and food security

The UK Data Service hosts a large number of food and nutrition related survey datasets including the National Food Survey and the Living Costs. We also hold datasets produced by the World Bank, which include aggregated data from 1960 onwards on food production index, undernourishment, hunger and malnutrition. Data collections on food and food security can be found here. Data collections related to food and food security.

Health and health behaviour

Health and health behaviour covers a wide range of topics and cuts across many academic disciplines. The UK Data Service holds data on a range od related topics including: experience of illness, child development, access to care, lifestyle behaviour, subjective physical and mental well-being, diet and nutrition, immunisation programmes and attitudes towards health service provision. Data collections related to health and health behaviour.

Housing and local environment

Housing conditions and the quality of the local environment play a large role in quality of life. Health and well-being can be affected by poor housing conditions such as damp or overcrowding and also by factors related to the local area, for example levels of deprivation, access to services, contact with neighbours or the fear of crime. Many of the data sources held by the UK Data Service contain information on these topics. Data collections related to housing and local environment.

Information and communication

Information and communication technologies are reshaping the world, transforming the way in which we communicate, govern, work, manage crises, do business and spend our free time. These changes are, in turn, driving new policy development to address the societal impacts of digital technologies. The UK Data Service holds data on a wide range of ICT topics, such as mobile communication, telework, social-media, radio, television, internet use, mass media, infrastructure, security and trust. Data collections related to information and communication.

Labour market

Employment is a fundamental feature of social life. At the macro level, labour costs, employment rates and industrial and occupational patterns have considerable impact on the character and prosperity of nations. At the micro level, individual workers relationship to the labour market affects their movements, time use, resources available to them, and their well-being. The UK Data Service holds a full range of employment and labour market data from key government and longitudinal surveys to international indicators and qualitative historical interviews. Data collections related to the labour market.

Politics

The UK Data Service holds a variety of data collections related to politics, from key government and longitudinal surveys to international indicators and qualitative historical interviews. These cover topics such as political opinions, civic participation, elections, political parties, and many more. Data collections related to politics.

Poverty and social exclusion

Extreme poverty is characterised by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation and shelter while relative poverty, which occurs in all countries, is defined in terms of minimum acceptable standards of living within the society in which a particular person lives. The UK Data Service hosts a number of key collections on the complexities of poverty, living standards and social exclusion ranging from individual life courses to large scale surveys and country-level indicators. Data collections on poverty and social exclusion.

Data by geography

Users can search for data relating to a specific geographic location.

Data by country

Data by UK geography

Postcode tools

How to access the data

Access to data is governed by our Data Access Policy.

If you are accessing data classified as Open you do not have to register with the UK Data Service. Registration is only required if you wish to download, order, or analyse online, data classified as Safeguarded or Controlled.

A step-by-step guide to the registration process can be found on the Registration FAQs while the Download and order page provides information on requesting access to Safeguarded and Controlled data.

To start searching the data we hold, you can search our Data Catalogue by using our search and browse application.

For information about how to access data for teaching purposes visit our Teaching datasets pages.

Finding the right data for your project

Our Which categories of data are most suitable for me? page provides guidance on which category of data in the UK Data Service collection is likely to be appropriate for different types of research projects.

Data variables and formats

Our Can I request specific variables or subsets of data? page explains which variables you can get from the UK Data Service and the formats that these data are available in.