New funding for Understanding Society will unlock more insights

  • Date

    Tue 24 Jul 18

various doors

Understanding Society, the ‘UK Household Longitudinal Study’, has been awarded an additional round of funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). This new grant will support Wave 12 of Understanding Society and provide further longitudinal data for researchers and policymakers.

Understanding Society started in 2009 and is building on the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), which ran from 1991 until 2008. Waves eight to 11 of Understanding Society are being collected and processed at the moment with this new award from the ESRC extending that work to Wave 12.

In total 24 ‘waves’ of harmonised data have already been released thanks to BHPS and Understanding Society, providing annual information on a range of social, economic, behavioural and health factors. When this new wave is completed, researchers will have 29 waves of household data available to use. 

The funding also includes support for two new waves of the Innovation Panel – a sample of 1,500 households that have been interviewed every year since 2008. The Innovation Panel is used as a testing ground for researchers to conduct methodological experiments, improving survey design and longitudinal research. Research using the Innovation Panel has looked at a diverse range of topics including using new technology for data collection, how survey participants conceptualise their household finances, and how studies can collect information when partners separate.

Each wave of the Study takes two years to collect, but each household is interviewed annually. Survey responses are gathered through a combination of interviewers visiting the households that take part or households completing their survey online. The collected data are then cleaned and processed by the Understanding Society team at the Institute for Social and Economic Research. The data are deposited and made available via the UK Data Service.

“By collecting information from our participants every year, the Study provides crucial information for researchers and policymakers on the changes and stability of the lives of people and their households in the UK.  Every year the Study collects data the stronger it becomes. We have many exciting plans for the future and this grant ensures the longevity of this work.”
Professor Michaela Benzeval Director of Understanding Society

Understanding Society is based at the Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, and the fieldwork for the Study is provided by Kantar Public and NatCen Social Research.