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CLOSER’s harmonised socio-economic measures in four longitudinal cohort studies are now available from the UK Data Service

Article dated: 30 January 2018

The UK Data Service is pleased to announce the second workpackage of harmonised datasets, created by CLOSER (Cohort and Longitudinal Studies Enhancement Resources) are now available to download. The datasets harmonise socio-economic measures across four of the UK's major cohort studies:

  • National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD)
  • National Child Development Study 1958 (NCDS)
  • 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70)
  • Millennium Cohort Study (MCS)

Harmonisation of socio-economic status

As the date of birth of participants in the four surveys ranges from 1946 (NSHD) to 2000/01(MCS), it was a challenge to find one socio-economic measure which could be used to harmonise all the studies – there are five possible official occupational classifications and seven derived measures of socio-economic status. The CLOSER team settled on the Registrar General’s Social Class (1990 version) to standardise the datasets – there are details in the user guide accompanying these data. The datasets contain the social class at one childhood time-point – for parent’s occupation, nearest to age 10/11 – and one adult time-point – nearest to age 42 (for MCS, only the childhood time-point social class is present, as the cohort are still not old enough to have an adult time-point).

Professor Alison Park, Director of CLOSER, says, “There is understandable interest in being able to explore the relationship between social class and a wide range of measures - including health, wellbeing and educational attainment. But examining how this relationship is changing over time is complicated by the fact that longitudinal studies have used a range of different measures of social class over the years. CLOSER funded this project because we could see how valuable it would be to have a set of harmonised measures for these studies that other researchers would be able to use.”

Having this measure of socio-economic status harmonised across the four studies will help with research about social mobility, social exclusion and inequality. CLOSER aims to maximise the use, value and impact of the UK's longitudinal studies – and, as a key partner, the UK Data Service encourages other researchers from academia and policy sectors to make use of the new datasets, including the recent release of the first workpackage of harmonised datasets in October.

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