23 November 2011

Understanding Society - a step closer

Colchester Campus

November marks a major milestone in the development and delivery of Understanding Society, as data from 100,000 people in 40,000 UK households become available for researchers to use.

Data from Wave 1 of the survey (interviews carried out between the beginning of 2009 and the end of 2010) is now available to download and use from the Economic and Social Data Service. This includes data from the ethnic minority boost sample, providing a unique new opportunity to study the circumstances of ethnic minority groups in the UK.

Nick Buck, Director of the study, which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and designed and managed by a team of experts at the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER), said: “This really is a momentous step for everyone who works on this world-leading study.

"We need everyone now to spread the word that this fantastic resource is available and to make sure that every researcher with an interest in the social and economic circumstances, attitudes and beliefs of people in the UK is accessing and analysing the rich new information that Understanding Society provides.”

Nick said he was also looking forward to the release of Year 1 of Wave 2 data, which would mark a further milestone for the survey in respect of longitudinal research opportunities.

A team of researchers, who have had early access to the data, is already working on a range of articles to be published early next year. Topics range from role social support networks play in coping with stressful events throughout the life-course to young people’s health and well-being, the division of housework, links between parents’ income and children’s achievements, and a range of specially-commissioned ethnicity-related research using the survey’s unique ethnicity boost sample. An Early findings research volume published earlier this year using just the first Year of Wave 1 attracted widespread media and other interest.

Professor Paul Boyle, Chief Executive of the ESRC, added: “This is an exciting time for anyone interested in mapping the UK’s social landscape. With the latest release of data from Understanding Society, researchers and policy makers will have access to unprecedented information allowing insights into our family relationships, health, our attitudes to the changing environment around us, our finances and neighbourhoods and much more.

"This new set of data is an important contribution to the UK’s internationally renowned portfolio of longitudinal studies.”

Download the data from the Economic and Social Data Service.

Listen to our survey manager Jon Burton talking about latest developments with the survey in ISER’s Research Podcast Series.

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