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Longitudinal studies involve repeated observations of the same subjects, allowing researchers to analyse change at the individual level.
The UK is home to several key longitudinal studies, including major panel and internationally-renowned cohort studies including those listed below.
The 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) follows the lives of more than 17,000 people born in England, Scotland and Wales in a single week of 1970. Over the course of cohort members’ lives, the BCS70 has has broadened from a strictly medical focus at birth to collect information on health, physical, educational and social development, and economic circumstances among other factors.
The British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) was carried out by the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) and followed around 10,000 households from 1991-2009 (Waves 1-18). From Wave 19, the BHPS became part of a new longitudinal study called Understanding Society.
The Cohort and Longitudinal Studies Enhancement Resources project, CLOSER aims to maximise the use, value and impact of longitudinal research. Resources available from CLOSER include harmonised datasets (developed to facilitate cross-study comparisons) and CLOSER Discovery (a search engine that enables researchers to search and browse questionnaires and data from different longitudinal studies).
The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) study is a longitudinal survey of ageing and quality of life among older people. It explores the dynamic relationships between health and functioning, social networks and participation, and economic position as people plan for, move into and progress beyond retirement.
The Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) study, is a longitudinal social survey which follows the lives of groups of Scotland’s children from infancy through to their teens, and aims to provide important new information on young children and their families in Scotland.
The Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), which began in 2000, is conducted by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS). It aims to chart the conditions of social, economic and health advantages and disadvantages facing children born at the start of the 21st century.
The National Child Development Study (NCDS) is a continuing cohort study that seeks to follow the lives of all those living in Great Britain who were born in one particular week in 1958. Conducted by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS), the aim of the study is to improve understanding of the factors affecting human development over the whole lifespan.
Next Steps (also known as the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE1)) is a major longitudinal study of young people. The study began in 2004, when its sample of young people were aged between 13 and 14.
Our Future (also known as the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE2)), is a major longitudinal study of young people that began in 2013. It aims to track a sample of over 13,000 young people from the age of 13/14 annually through to the age of 20 (seven waves).
The Understanding Society study, or the United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS), which began in 2009, is a multi-topic household panel survey that follows around 40,000 households. The study is a successor to the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS). Information is collected from everyone in the household to see how different generations experience life in the UK and to find out about family formation and wider family and community networks.