Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


News and events


How equal are the impacts of cycling investments?

In Episode 11 of Linking our Lives, we're joined by Dr Richard Patterson, from the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge. Richard has been using the ONS LS to investigate the impacts of funding to support cycling in urban areas and specifically to see whether there are any differences in those impacts.


Reducing inequalities in life expectancy: what works?

Social inequalities in life expectancy are a major issue for governments – and they have increased over time. But they have done so at different rates in different countries, and there is a need for greater understanding of how and why this has happened. In this blog, Daniel Zazueta-Borboa describes a study which uses the ONS LS to look in detail at how policy and social change is linked to reductions or increases in these inequalities.


Does educational success lead to job success for second-generation immigrants?

Second-generation immigrants in the UK now gain better qualifications than those whose parents were born here. So why do they struggle to get into the best jobs, and what role does social class play? In this blog Carolina V.  Zuccotti and Lucinda Platt describe research which uses the ONS LS to shed light on the issue.


Do caregivers’ children reach milestones earlier?

The number of looked-after children in England has risen significantly in the past three decades, and around three quarters are placed with foster families. Many of those families have children of their own: what are the longer-term effects on them? In this blog Amanda Sacker and colleagues describe research which set out to shed light on the issue – and which suggests specific training for social workers could be helpful.


Is selective education really ‘the great leveller’?

As recently as 2017 the Conservative government was elected on a manifesto which pledged to promote new grammar schools – with the explicit aim of increasing mobility. But is school selection really a factor in ‘levelling up’? In this blog Franz Buscha describes research which used ONS LS data to track the generation which experienced a mass change from grammars to comprehensives in England. Selective education made little difference to their life chances, it found.


Timescales of availability of 2021 LS data

ONS has provided the following update:  

Beta testing of the 2021 LS data will not start before March 2024 and the 2021 LS research database is therefore not likely to be available before the latter half of 2024. 

Please contact celsius@ucl.ac.uk if you have any queries about this.


Is London becoming a city segregated by privilege?

Globally, more people live in cities, and while they shape those cities they are also shaped by them. In this Linking our Lives blog, Dr Bonnie Buyuklieva describes PhD research in which she used census data on London and elsewhere to develop new ways of modelling the metabolic processes of people and their built environments. The results should inform planning, building use and social sustainability.


Britain’s cultural and creative industries: open to all or dominated by the privileged few?

In this new Linking our Lives podcast, Dr Orian Brook, Chancellor’s Fellow in Social Policy at the University of Edinburgh, discusses her use of the ONS Longitudinal Study to investigate whether Britain’s cultural and creative industries are as open to all as some say or whether they remain dominated by the privileged few.


Have school league tables led to more socially segregated neighbourhoods?

In the early 1990s, parents in England were given access to league tables based on school performance which gave them more information when deciding where their kids would go to school. In this blog Dan McArthur and Aaron Reeves share findings of research which used the ONS Longitudinal Study and which found quantifying school quality had the unintended consequence of increasing the geographical concentration of advantage, potentially entrenching inequalities. 


CeLSIUS Easter closure

Please note that UCL, and therefore CeLSIUS, will be closed for Easter from 5:30pm on Wednesday 5 April 2023 to 9:00am on Thursday 13 April 2023.


CeLSIUS end of year closure

Please note that UCL, and therefore CeLSIUS, will be closed for the Christmas/New Year holidays from 5:30 pm on Friday 23 December 2022 to 9:00 am on Tuesday 3 January 2023. Also, we shall be short-staffed on 22 - 23 December, so if you wish to receive pre-publication clearances before 24 December, you must request them before 5pm on 21 December.


Health and place: How levelling up health can keep older workers working

As part of its levelling up agenda, the UK Government has set itself an ambitious target to add five additional healthy years to the average UK lifespan by 2035. In this blog Dr Emily Murray highlights lessons from the Health in Older People in Places project (HOPE), which she leads. HOPE uses data from the ONS Longitudinal Study to showing the link between levels of employment and health in a place.


Welsh language: A million Welsh speakers by 2050?

This research brief shows who gained the ability to speak Welsh over a 10 year period between 2001-2011 and what more the 2021 Census data will show us.


50 years of census research: virtual roundtable, 15th November, 2-3.30 pm

The UKCenLS Conference, held on 20th September 2022 at Cardiff Castle, brought together the ONS LS, the N. Ireland LS and the Scottish LS, to explore their research power. We are offering this follow-on roundtable event for those who were not able to attend in person. Although we cannot replicate the conference at this new event, we invite you to view its presentations (YouTube) before joining us for a discussion which explores the research potential of 50 years of linked census data, from 1971 to 2021. For more information and registration, please see https://tinyurl.com/3zxkjenv using password Cardiff2022.


Beta test stage of linkage of Census 2021 data to the ONS Longitudinal Study 

The beta test stage of the project to link Census 2021 data to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Longitudinal Study (LS) is the final test stage prior to release of the new LS Research Database. During this stage, a select group of researchers will run approved projects using the new data to assess whether the new database is fit for purpose. 

To find out more about the ONS LS 2021 beta test, please see https://www.ons.gov.uk/aboutus/whatwedo/paidservices/longitudinalstudyls/longitudinalstudycensus2021linkagebetatest.


Mental health service use and local crime – how are they associated?

Living in neighbourhoods with higher crime rates is linked with a higher prevalence of mental health problems – but what is the relationship with mental health service use, especially with psychotropic medications? Also, are there any groups of people more vulnerable to the impact of crime, and how do changing crime levels help to understand this association? In this blog, Gergő Baranyi discusses new insights using data from the Scottish Longitudinal Study.


Creative and ambitious research: what digital data infrastructure do we need for that?

In Episode 9 of Linking our Lives recorded at the UK Census Longitudinal Studies Conference 2022 at Cardiff Castle, we are in conversation with Catherine Bromley the ESRC’s Deputy Director of Data Strategy and Infrastructure to find out what’s needed to create a digital research infrastructure that underpins ambitious and creative research.


UK Census Longitudinal Studies conference, Cardiff Castle, 20th Sept 2022

This event brings together the England and Wales, Scottish and Northern Ireland census Longitudinal Studies, to explore their research power. The programme will focus on the studies' unique contribution to the UK’s population data landscape and how they may be used. There is no registration fee and lunch will be provided. 

You can book your place using password Cardiff2022 – spaces are limited, but presentations will be recorded and there will be a virtual roundtable after the event for people who are unable to attend in person.


Language in Northern Ireland: Who has lost, gained or retained knowledge of Irish?

In 2020, the New Decade New Approach (NDNA) deal for Northern Ireland outlined a strategy for the Irish language. Then in May 2022 the Identity and Language Bill was introduced in Westminster, providing for the strategy to be granted official status. But who knows Irish, and what changes have occurred? In this blog, Dr Ian Shuttleworth discusses findings from a research project using census data to look at changes between 2001 and 2011. 


Measuring health: does it matter how we do it?

In Episode 8 of Linking Our Lives we're joined by Drs Emily Murray and Brian Beach from University College London to discuss recently submitted evidence to the UK's 2nd State Pension Age Review using findings from Emily's Health Foundation funded research project on the Health of Older People in Places. Here they talk about the research, explain why the way we measure health matters and discuss the implications for policy makers and pensioners. 


Person or place? Finding out more about what drives health inequalities

It is known that life expectancy is higher in some areas of the UK than in others. These inequalities in health are linked to the socio-demographics of the area: poorer health and shorter life expectancy tends to be a feature of less affluent areas of the country. The latest Linking Our Lives blog, the third in a series on cancer and social inequality, Fiona Ingleby discusses research which uses data from cancer patients included in the ONS Longitudinal Study to assess the evidence on health inequalities and cancer outcomes.


Does social position affect our chances of contracting bowel cancer?

We know cancer incidence is linked to socio-economic status, and this differs according to types of cancer. In the second of three blogs on research using the ONS-LS to explore cancer and social status, Charlotte Sturley has examined diagnoses of bowel cancer, and found some clear evidence of a social effect.


Cancer risk and social status: what are the links?

How does our social environment influence our chances of getting cancer? The latest Linking Our Lives blog highlights new research using ONS LS data by Professor Robert Hiatt and colleagues, which shows there is a link between socio-economic status and cancer incidence, but also throws up some unexpected findings. In the first of a series of three blogs on socio-economic links to cancer, he discusses his work.


Social mobility - what do we really know?

In Episode 7 of the Linking our Lives podcast, Professor Patrick Sturgis from the London School of Economics and Professor Franz Buscha from the University of Westminster discuss how and why they have used the ONS LS in 15 years of social mobility research, what they have learned and what policymakers seeking to tackle inequality need to consider.


ONS research plays key role in children’s social care review

The latest Linking Our Lives blog highligts the ONS LS research that contributed to the recent Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, particularly the findings from the Looked After Children Grown Up project which had a key role in providing evidence to the review.


New thematic guides to using ONS LS data

There are three new guides, on discrepancy variables, imputation flag variables and international migration data in the LS.


Easter closure

UCL and therefore CeLSIUS will be closed from 5:30pm on Tuesday 12 April to 9:00am on Tuesday 19 April 2022


LS shows richer moving picture than Levelling Up White Paper

The Government’s new Levelling Up White Paper focuses attention on trends in the movement of people within the UK. NILS-RSU's Ian Shuttleworth was cited by its authors – and in our latest Linking Our Lives blog, he says longitudinal census data can show us a richer picture than was revealed by the document


Can housing policies affect assimilation of the children of migrants?

Immigrant families often choose to live in neighbourhoods where there are others from similar backgrounds. But does this affect their children’s prospects? Our latest Linking Our Lives blog looks at new research using the ONS LS which suggests policies aimed at desegregating neighbourhoods could make a difference


Moving out to move on: migration, disadvantage and social mobility

In Episode 6 of the Linking our Lives podcast, Dafni Papoutsaki from the University of Brighton talks about her research which used the ONS LS and other secondary data to look at who moves away from where they grow up to try to improve their prospects and the implications of that


UKcenLS webinar

The UKcenLS is the collective name for the 3 UK Census Longitudinal Studies: the ONS LS, the Northern Ireland LS (NILS) and the Scottish LS (SLS). On 10th December 2021 each research unit presented an overview of their LS, with sample sizes, data included, access procedures, etc - these are now available as YouTube videos:

  • CeLSIUS - Aly Sizer
  • NILS-RSU (this link will take you to a video file in your web browser, not youtube)
  • SLS-DSU - Lee Williamson

Also, exciting recent findings from researchers using the studies were showcased:


Do well-educated children make their parents healthier?

New blog which discusses the findings of a paper which uses ONS LS data, on the causal effect of children’s education on their parents’ health and longevity, by Cecilia Potente (Zurich University), Patrick Präg (Oxford University) and Christiaan Monden (Oxford University)


CeLSIUS Christmas/New Year closure

UCL and therefore CeLSIUS will be closed from 5:30pm on Wednesday 22 December 2021 to 9:00am on Tuesday 4 January 2022


Addressing health: lessons from the past about ill health in the workplace

In Episode 5 of Linking our Lives, David Green, Professor of Historical Geography at Kings College London, Nicola Shelton, Professor of Population Health at UCL and social history enthusiast and volunteer Becky Darnill discuss the research project Addressing Health: Morbidity, Mortality and Occupational Health in the Victorian and Edwardian Post Office - a fantastic collaboration exploring the timing and geography of ill health, and the responses of the Post Office and the workforce!


UK Census Longitudinal Studies (UKcenLS) webinar

Friday 10th December at 10am. Booking: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ukcenls-webinar-tickets-181771582697

  • Introduction to the UKcenLS datasets - from each of the 3 research support units: CeLSIUS, NILS-RSU and SLS-DSU
  • The Health of Older People in Places Project - Emily Murray (UCL), using ONS LS data
  • Keeping it, losing it or gaining it? The loss, retention and uptake of the Irish language in Northern Ireland - John Hughes (ARU NISRA), using NILS data
  • The Island Effect: sociospatial associations between mental wellbeing and residence on remote Scottish islands - Kathryn Halliday and Tom Clemens (University of Edinburgh), using SLS data


New information for ONS LS researchers: derived variables list (PDF)

Information on the syntax files that are available for ONS LS researchers to use.


Why data is key to reducing inequalities for the care experienced

In Episode 4 of the Linking our Lives Podcast, Professor Amanda Sacker from UCL is in conversation with the UK National Statistician Sir Ian Diamond about her high profile research using the ONS LS and funded by the Nuffield Foundation to look at the outcomes of care experienced people. 


Documenting lives: using the ONS LS to test the representativeness of TV's Up series

In Episode 3 of Series 1 of Linking our Lives, Aly Sizer from the Centre for Longitudinal Study Information and User Support (CeLSIUS) at UCL talks about her research on The Up-Series generation in the ONS Longitudinal StudyShe explains the inspiration behind her research using the ONS LS to see if the children selected for the well-known and popular Up series of television documentaries were representative of the wider population and reveals what she found and what it tells us.  


You can now view the recording of our 13th September 2021 event: CeLSIUS: ONS Longitudinal Study online training

 This event included the following presentations and practical sessions:

  • What is the ONS LS?
  • How do I get to use it?
  • What research can I do?
  • Bespoke synthetic data in the ONS LS
  • Practical 1: Live synthetic SYLLS analysis using STATA
  • Practical 2: Applying to use the ONS LS and becoming an ONS accredited researcher


Find out how you can do outstanding census-based research using the ONS LS

CeLSIUS: ONS Longitudinal Study online training event, 13 Sept 2021, 2 pm - 5 pm. 

Find out more/book your ticket: tinyurl.com/4pkr2ek5


A gold mine of information: 50 years of the ONS LS

The second episode of our blog series, Linking our Lives: England and Wales since 1971, is now available. We ask ONS' Rich Pereira how the LS has become such a gold mine of information about how our society has changed over time.


'Households and families' guide to using ONS LS data

A new guide to households and families data in the ONS LS is now available, along with guides to births and fertility, defining a study population, ethnicity, events, mortality and socio-economic indicators.


Easter closure

UCL, and therefore CeLSIUS, will be closed from 5 pm on Thursday 1st April, reopening on Monday 12th April at 9 am.


What will the Census tell us about COVID-19?

CeLSIUS launches its new blog this week with an article from Director Nicola Shelton on what the Census 2021 will tell us about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Linking our Lives is a sister blog to CeLSIUS' new podcast of the same name. 


CeLSIUS launches Linking our Lives Podcast

A new podcast showcasing research that uses the ONS LS to look at some of the major social issues of the last 50 years launches this week. Linking our Lives: England and Wales since 1971 is produced and presented by former BBC journalist Chris Garrington on behalf of CeLSIUS. 

In conversations of 20-25 minutes, researchers discuss how they are making use of the data, what they have found and what it means for policy, practice and society. The podcast shows the impact of the ONS LS and provides insights into how others might tap into this fantastic resource.

In Episode 1 Chris discusses a new Index created by the CeLSIUS team to see how funds from the Government's Stronger Towns Fund might have been allocated differently and possibly more fairly.


ONS Longitudinal Study joins CLOSER

CeLSIUS is delighted to announce that the ONS Longitudinal Study is one of eleven studies to have joined CLOSER. We very much look forward to collaborating with CLOSER, which brings together world-leading longitudinal studies to maximise their use, value and impact and improve understanding of key social and biomedical challenges.


Guides to using ONS LS data

A new guide to mortality data - our final guide - is now available, along with guides to births and fertility data, defining a study population, ethnicity data, events data and socio-economic indicators.


CeLSIUS funding to 2025

We are delighted to announce that we have secured funding from ESRC to continue to support the ONS Longitudinal Study until 30 September 2025. We are currently supporting users remotely - please see below. We look forward to continuing our work with our current LS users, and to welcoming many new researchers - please get in touch via celsius@ucl.ac.uk for more information.


SRS and CeLSIUS response to COVID-19

The ONS SRS Safe Settings and UCL offices were closed in March, in accordance with government guidelines, and will remain closed until further notice. CeLSIUS is able to offer remote user support for ONS LS projects - please contact us via celsius@ucl.ac.uk.

LS project support will be prioritised in the following order:

1) of immediate government interest – e.g. covid-19
2) examined work nearing deadline (in the following three months)
3) work only using the LS nearing study period end (in the following three months)
4) work using the LS nearing study period end  (in the following three months)
5) ongoing work only using the LS
6) new work only using the LS 
7) other work

Please also note:

  • We are accepting and processing new applications to use the LS but we estimate that, from application submission to final approval, you should allow at least four months. Also, support for these once they are approved will be limited for the time being.

  • Large scale cross tabs and other work involving extensive manipulation to prevent disclosure will not be cleared.

  • Additionally, approved researchers can apply to access their existing projects from home subject to guidelines set out by ONS on accessing secure research data as an accredited researcher. If your organisation has an Assured Organisation Connectivity (AOC) agreement with ONS, please submit a homeworking request.

If necessary, you may send code to be run by us for you, or you may discuss with us the outputs that you require (perhaps constructing specimen tables or models) and we will write and run code for you. Also, you may specify an aggregated dataset (which will have a limited number of values) for you to analyse at your place of study/work.

Thank you for your patience while this remote service is in place


New CeLSIUS paper

Are ‘healthy cohorts’ real-world relevant? Comparing the National Child Development Study (NCDS) with the ONS Longitudinal Study (LS) (Authors: Gemma Archer, Wei Xun, Rachel Stuchbury, Owen Nicholas & Nicola Shelton) is now out on fast track release  https://doi.org/10.1332/175795920X15786630201754


Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 outbreak we have had to cancel the UK Census Longitudinal Studies (UKCenLS) 2020 Conference (which had been arranged for 20th April 2020 at Cardiff Castle). We aim to rearrange this conference at some point soon - watch this space.


7-Up, Social Mobility and University

8 November 2019, 6 – 9 pm

Cumberland Hall, Ullswater Community College, Wetheriggs Lane, Penrith CA11 8NG

The 'Up' series, which has followed 14 people since 1964 when they were 7 years old, was shown on ITV in June. CeLSIUS has used 40 years of census information to see how fairly the series represents society - could the participants' pathways have been predicted back in 1964?

Join us to:

  • Find out more about what the group of 14 were like when they were 7 years old back in 1964.
  • Learn more about Neil, one of the group, who is now a local councillor in Penrith and completed an Open University degree in his 40s.
  • Judge for yourself whether social mobility in the UK is increasing or decreasing.
  • Learn about schemes and event that universities hold so that you can experience what university life might be like.

The event is free and open to all year 11 and sixth form students, and their parents and teachers.


An Introduction to Survival Analysis Training using the Scottish Longitudinal Study

7 November 2019, 9.00 am - 5.00 pm

Room G20, Christopher Ingold Building, Department of Chemistry, UCL, 20 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0AJ

Free event, but please book via Eventbrite

A workshop on survival analysis for time to event data suitable for those with experience of statistical analyses but new to this type of analysis. This course would be of particular interest to those considering using the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS) or any of the UK longitudinal studies to analyse time to event data. It will introduce methods to display and model time to event data, including Kaplan-Meier plots and Cox proportional hazards regression. The survival analysis theory will be complimented with hands-on practical sessions using Stata (R if sufficient interest is indicated) on training datasets. Presentations of real projects will also be given to demonstrate research potential.


An introduction to using the UK Census Longitudinal Studies (UKcenLS)

6 November 2019, 1.30 - 5.30 pm

Room G20, Christopher Ingold Building, Department of Chemistry, UCL, 20 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0AJ

Free event, but please book via Eventbrite

A workshop to provide a general introduction to the UKcenLS datasets: the Northern Ireland LS (NILS), the ONS LS (England and Wales) and the Scottish LS (SLS), follwoed by the opportunity to:

  • explore which variables are held by each LS in the data dictionary and use test data
  • have help completing an application to use LS data (main example from the SLS
  • meet Support Unit staff from CeLSIUS & the SLS-DSU to discuss the development of new research projects.


Webinar: Journey to work data in the UK - what data are available?

12 March 2019

Jointly organised by CeLSIUS and the UK Data Service, the webinar explores journey to work data in the UK, focussing on data from the census, in particular the longitudinal studies, including:


UK Census Longitudinal Studies First Annual Conference:  8th - 9th April 2019, Queen's University Belfast

This event was organised by the three UK census longitudinal studies to showcase research and build research capacity amongst existing and prospective users. The first day of the conference presented research findings from across the UK and set the UK experience in a wider context with an international panel. The second day offered two parallel workshops. One strand provided 'safe researcher training' to certify attendees to use longitudinal data across the UK. The second was concerned with the development of research ideas and seeking research funding.


CeLSIUS Research Brief: Windrush migrants in the LS (PDF)

CeLSIUS estimate that in 2011 there were around 1,735 Windrush children who had entered the country prior to 1971 - find out more about how the ONS LS can be used to estimate the number of Windrush migrants in ways which go beyond the methods based solely on the most recent census, or on the Labour Force Survey.


Webinar: Geography and longitudinal data - the UK Household Longitudinal Study and the UK Longitudinal Studies, held on 11th July 2018


Presentations and other materials now available from 'A showcase of student research using the ONS LS and census microdata', held on 28th March 2018


Recent changes to ONS LS output clearance procedures:

LS users may have received several emails from CeLSIUS/the ONS relating to changes to clearance procedures - please note that the following are the only changes that have occurred recently:

  • 'Pre-publication' clearance will replace 'Intermediate Outputs'.
  • 'Publication' clearance will replace 'Final Outputs'.
  • BOTH procedures will require results to be aggregated to the same minimum cell threshold. That is, in results from which a count of individual persons could possibly be calculated - e.g. percentages, or graphs based on percentages - the cell count will be 10 or more.
  • However, both types of clearance may be possible for results which do not meet this criterion if there is a scientific justification, i.e. both a reason why clearance of lower cell counts is needed, and a persuasive argument that in this case they could not lead to disclosure.
  • Publication and Pre-publication clearances will involve two members of staff.
  • LS users working overseas will be dealt with on the same basis as those based in the UK.

Please also note that CeLSIUS support officers will continue to:

  • do pre-publication clearance on log files and other formats
  • run code for users and send out the cleared outputs (subject to the conditions outlined above)
  • alter users' outputs where necessary to make them clearable


Book chapter on the UK LSs

'Longitudinal Studies in the United Kingdom'

by Nicola Shelton and Oliver Duke-Williams of CeLSIUS, Chris Dibben of SLS-DSU & Ian Shuttleworth of NILS-RSU

In 'The Routledge Handbook of Census Resources, Methods and Applications' edited by John Stillwell.

From the publisher's website:

The Routledge Handbook of Census Resources, Methods and Applications provides a comprehensive and authoritative guide to the collection, processing, quality assessment and delivery of the different data products that constitute the results of the population censuses conducted across the United Kingdom in 2011. It provides those interested in using census data with an introduction to the collection, processing and quality assessment of the 2011 Census, together with guidance on the various types of data resources that are available and how they can be accessed.