NCDS5 (1991)


The fifth NCDS follow-up, carried out in 1991, was designed to obtain information from the cohort member; any husband, wife, or cohabitee; from the natural or adopted children of 1 in 3 cohort families; and from the mother of these children. (Ferri, 1993). The mother and child questionnaires are based on instruments used for the US National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, and their inclusion in NCDS5 is designed to permit comparisons to be made. (Baker and Mott, 1988).

Four groups were involved in the design, preparation and conduct of the work:

  • SSRU NCDS5 Research Team - who were responsible for the overall design and conduct, and analysis of the survey.
  • Scientific Advisors from the research community - who gave advice on the design and content and undertake some analysis of the data. (See Appendix 3 of the Technical Report).
  • Funders - a consortium headed by the Economic and Social Research Council, and including a number of government departments and the US National Institute of Child Health and Development.
  • Survey Contractors - a consortium of three survey companies (Social and Community Planning Research, NOP Market Research, and Research Surveys of Great Britain) who provided 600 interviewers and other data collection and preparation resources.

Tracing and Pilot Surveys

Preparation for the survey began in 1985 with the search for funders, and included:

Tracing of cohort members. Following trials designed to identify the most effective way to trace members of the NCDS cohort, SSRU carried out a special tracing exercise. Although efforts have been made to maintain contact with cohort members, the gap between surveys inevitably means that a number are temporarily lost. In 1988 the whereabouts of about 50 percent of the target sample were known. As a result of a special tracing exercise some 75 percent were "found" before the NCDS5 survey began. Subsequently, these efforts were supplemented by interviewers working on the survey who carried out "detective work". More details are provided below.
Discussions with funders and advisors on the design and conduct of the survey.

Pilot Surveys in which the SSRU developed the design, content, and administration of the NCS5 survey. There were 6 separate rounds of piloting involving 11 different pilot surveys. The early pilot surveys were concerned with only one or two topic areas and based on small samples of non-cohort respondents of approximately the same age. Later surveys piloted one or more complete questionnaires on somewhat larger samples, and in January 1990, and again in November of that same year "dress rehearsal" surveys were conducted. The latter were designed to pilot all survey procedures and instruments using samples drawn from the NCDS cohort.

The NCDS5 Survey

The NCDS5 survey was carried during 1991 and involved some 600 interviewers trained in 43 separate briefings: a single briefing of those who were to carry out the briefings; 3 briefings of regional field managers; and 39 interviewer briefings held in major cities throughout the country. There were 2 types of interviewer briefing:

One day briefings: Attended by 400 interviewers working only on the Cohort Member and Partner Surveys.

Three day briefings: Attended by 200 interviewers working on both the Cohort Member and 'Partner Surveys, and on the Mother and Child Survey.

An outline of survey content is given below. (See Appendix 2 of the Technical Report).

Cohort Member Questionnaires

Your Life Since 1974

Event History Questionnaire: A self-completion questionnaire designed to recover event/activity history data relating to: marriage/ cohabitation; children; jobs; periods not in a job; and housing.

What Do You Think 

Attitude Self-completion: A self-completion questionnaire designed to obtain attitude data on marriage (including the Locke-Wallace "Quality of Relationship" battery; women's roles; children and the family; social support; social and political values (left/right, traditional/modern); environmentalism; racism; sexism; political trust/cynicism; orientation towards work; value of work; job control; and perceived skills

Interview Questionnaire

An interview designed to recover data detailed information about: current/last and previous jobs; spouse partner's current job and earnings; unemployment; education and training courses; qualifications held; literacy and numeracy problems; marriages and cohabitations; pregnancies and children; housing circumstances; aspects of housing history (including rent/mortgage arrears, and homelessness); income from state benefits and other sources, savings, investments, inheritance, and debt; health and health history (including asthma and other specific conditions, disability, accidents and assaults, hospital admissions, etc); health behaviour (including smoking, drinking, drink driving); and citizenship (including voting behaviour, religiosity, and ethnicity).

Malaise Inventory

A self-completion questionnaire containing 24 item Malaise Inventory.

Height and Weight Measurement

Using portable measuring equipment.

Partner Questionnaire

Your Life... 

Event History Questionnaire: A self-completion questionnaire designed to recover event/activity history data relating to: marriage/ cohabitation; children; jobs; periods not in a job; and housing.

Mother and Child Questionnaires

This was a sample of one in three cohort families.

Mother Interview Questionnaire

An interview designed to recover data from the mother-figure relating to: family life; and, for each child, details of: pregnancy and birth; health history; separations from mother; exeperience of being "in care"; pre-school experience; schooling history; and experience of day care.

Mother "Your Child" Self-completion Questionnaire

A self-completion questionnaire completed by the mother-figure for each child and consisting of 4 age specific rating scales, namely: Motor and Social Development; Behaviour Problems Index; Temperament/"How My Child Usually Acts"; HOME-SF (Home Observation for; Measurement of the Environment - Short Form)

Child Interview

Nine age-specific child assessments administered by interviewers, namely: Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test - Revised (PPPVT-R); McCarthy Scale of Child Abilities: Verbal Memory Subscale; Peabody Individual Achievement Test (PIAT): Maths, Reading Recognition, and Reading Comprehension Subscales; Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children - Revised: Digit Span Subscale ("Memory for Digits"); Perceived Competence for Children/Self-Perception Profile ("What I am Like"); Interviewer evaluation of Testing Conditions/ Temperament; Interviewer observation of home environment/Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment - Short Form (HOME-SF).

Child Height and Weight Measurement

Using portable measuring equipment.