Data Linkage

The Centre for Longitudinal Studies is linking a number of administrative records to the data of its internationally-renowned British birth cohort studies. These data are routinely collected by health, education, benefit, and tax authorities for administrative purposes.  Combined with our survey data, they can be used to help us understand, in greater depth, the impact upon families of health and illness, employment and unemployment, and educational progress.

This work complements the Centre’s remit as an ESRC-funded research centre.

This work spans the four cohort studies managed by CLS: the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), the 1970 British Cohort Study , the 1958 National Child Development Study, and Next Steps.

In order to protect the anonymity of our study participants we do not routinely release any information regarding their location. Some studies, however, require understanding the geography of the participants such as general region, rural versus urban, or need the understanding of environmental factors such as pollution levels. For such studies we have linked the relevant geographic information associated with participants’ postcodes (Super Output Area codes, SOA) removing any identifiable details. Using SOA level data can also help understand local deprivation.

Data from MCS cohort members have already been linked with data from English, Welsh and Scottish education records of participants who have given consent for us to do so. The MCS follows the lives of around 19,000 children born in the UK in 2000-01. These linked data have been made available or research through the UK Secure Data Service and will be updated as they progress through to their GCSEs.

We are currently in the process of linking the data of our consenting study members to any hospital data they might have available. For the MCS we have already linked participants to their birth records and maternal postnatal records. This has given great insight on understanding the importance of the first few weeks in the child’s development.

Next we aim to link administrative economic data available for our consenting participants.  These will include information on employment, tax credits, and benefits they might receive. 


MCS current data linkage content

MCS 1:

MCS 2:

  • Geographic data

MCS 3:

  • Geographic data
  • Educational data

MCS 4:


Ethical review and consent downloads: