Understanding Society

Alternative Title: 
United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS)

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and run by the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) Understanding Society is a study of the socio-economic circumstances and attitudes of 100,000 individuals in 40,000 British households and will allow deeper analysis of a wide range of sections of the population as they respond to regional, national and international change. Understanding Society will provide insight insight into the pathways that influence peoples longer term occupational trajectories; their health and well-being, their financial circumstances and personal relationships.

From Wave 2 onwards, the study both replaces and incorporates the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), retaining the latter's longevity whilst adding not only to the sample size but also extending the scope of the study. Understanding Society also has an interdisciplinary focus. The study will capture biomedical data on 20,000 participants and place this alongside rich social histories which may ascertain the extent to which people's environment influences their health relative to their genetic make-up.

Each wave is collected over 24 months, such that the first wave of data was collected between January 2009 and January 2011 (and released in January 2012), the second wave between January 2010 and January 2012, and so forth.  Wave 6 data was released in November 2016.

Due to the sensitive nature of the data, special access conditions apply.

Spatial Coverage: 
United Kingdom
Data Creator: 
University of Essex. Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER)
Time Period: 

2009 to present

Data Publisher:


Documentation such as Methodological Research, Understanding Society Working Paper Series, Technical Reports are available on the Understanding Society website

UKDA Study Number: 
Data Access: 

Users must register with UKDS before accessing data files. Some versions require Special Licence access or Secure access.