First data wave from Understanding Society

23 November 2011

The first large data hoard from the Understanding Society survey is now becoming available to researchers. As the survey’s first 'full wave' of information has been deposited with the UK Data Archive, interviews from the world's largest household panel survey are for the first time accessible for research analysis.

"This is a really momentous moment for everyone who works on this world-leading study," says Understanding Society Director Nick Buck.

"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 using Understanding Society."

The survey is a world-leading study of the socio-economic circumstances and attitudes of individuals and households across the UK. 'Wave 1' of the survey includes the first round of annual interviews with the respondents, asking them wide-ranging questions about their working and personal lives. The survey will be following the respondents through their lives, tracking the various circumstances and attitudes.

A team of researchers with early access to the data is already examining the material across a range of areas - from young people's health and wellbeing, links between parents' income and children's achievements, and the role of social support networks in coping with stressful events, through to the division of housework and a range of specially-commissioned research using the survey's 'ethnicity boost sample'.

"Understanding Society offers unprecedented and unique insights into the breadth of UK society," says Professor Patricia Broadfoot, Chair of the Governing Board. "Findings from this 'living laboratory of life in the UK' will help policymakers in Government to develop policies that make people's lives better. Businesses and charities will be able to gain understanding which will improve their performance, and academics will have opportunities to study aspects of life in Britain today on an unparalleled scale. It is vital that as many people as possible know about the unique size and scale of this study and what it can do, so that we can all benefit from this new window on our world."

"This is an exciting time for anyone interested in mapping the UK's social landscape," adds Professor Paul Boyle, ESRC Chief Executive. "With the latest release of data from Understanding Society, researchers and policymakers 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."