|The National Child Development Study (NCDS) is a continuing longitudinal study that seeks to follow the lives of all those living in Great Britain who were born in one particular week in 1958. The aim of the study is to improve understanding of the factors affecting human development over the whole lifespan.
The NCDS has its origins in the Perinatal Mortality Survey (PMS) (the original PMS study is held at the UK Data Archive under SN 2137). This study was sponsored by the National Birthday Trust Fund and designed to examine the social and obstetric factors associated with stillbirth and death in early infancy among the 17,000 children born in England, Scotland and Wales in that one week. Selected data from the PMS form NCDS sweep 0, held alongside NCDS sweeps 1-3, under SN 5565.
To date there have been seven attempts to trace all members of the birth cohort in order to monitor their physical, educational and social development. The first three sweeps were carried out by the National Children's Bureau, in 1965, when respondents were aged 7, in 1969, aged 11, in 1974, aged 16 (these sweeps form NCDS1-3, held together with NCDS0 under SN 5565). The fourth sweep, NCDS4, was conducted in 1981, when respondents were aged 23 (held under SN 5566). In 1985 the NCDS moved to the Social Statistics Research Unit (SSRU) - now known as the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) - and the fifth sweep was carried out in 1991, when respondents were aged 33, (NCDS5, held under SN 5567). For the sixth wave, conducted in 1999-2000, when respondents were aged 41-42 (NCDS6, held under SN 5578), fieldwork was combined with the 1999-2000 wave of the 1970 Birth Cohort Study (BCS70), which is also conducted by CLS (and held at the Archive under GN 33229).
Response and Deaths Dataset:
A separate dataset covering responses and to NCDS and deaths of cohort members over all eight waves is available under SN 5560, National Child Development Study Response and Deaths Dataset, 1958-2009. Users are advised to order this study alongside the other waves of NCDS.
In addition to the main NCDS sweeps, some further studies have also been conducted. In 1978, a postal survey was conducted of the schools attended by members of the birth cohort at the time of the third follow-up of 1974, in order to obtain details of public examination entry and performance. Similar details were also sought from sixth-form and further education colleges etc., where these were identified by schools. Also, a 37-year sample survey of the NCDS cohort, focusing on basic skills, is held under SN 4992.
The Archive also holds a number of NCDS-related files (for example, of data collected in the course of a special study of handicapped school-leavers, at age 18 (held under SN 2024) and the data from a 5% feasibility study, conducted at age 20 (held under SN 2025), which preceded NCDS4. A parent migration dataset, based on NCDS5, is held under SN 4324, and a study detailing partnership histories, compiled from NCDS sweeps 5 and 6, is held under SN 5217.
Further information about the full NCDS series can be found on the CLS Centre for Longitudinal Studies website.
The Parent Migration research project had four aims:
This dataset contains information on the 'address history' of a sub-sample (2,657 members) of the NCDS who provided a mother/child questionnaire in 1991. One third of NCDS members identified to have at least one child old enough to complete maths and reading tests were requested to take part in the survey. Initial work was carried out by the NCDS User Support team as part of the 'Changing Home' project to code postal town data from NCDS5.
- an investigation of how children fare in educational attainments and behavioural adjustment, following change in family circumstances. This was done for children of the NCDS, making innovative use of multivariate multilevel modelling
- to see which children were likely to be resilient and which vulnerable to which type of change in their social environment
- to provide a systematic statistical backdrop on the population aged 5-16 in 1991, with the child as the unit of observation, taking evidence from the ONS Longitudinal Study (not held at the UKDA). This should show how far the sample of second generation NCDS children were representative of all children in experiencing change in who they live with and where, relating such histories to indicators of their living standards
- an enhancement of the NCDS5 dataset (see SN 5567) by coding and organizing data on migration, making a resource for other researchers. The methods used in the project were entirely quantitative, combining both description and analysis of secondary sources, the ONS Longitudinal Study and the second generation sample of NCDS cohort members and their children aged 5-18
For the second edition (August 2008), the serial number has been replaced with a new one, variable Ncdsid. This change has been made for all datasets in the NCDS series. Further information may be found in the 'CLS Confidentiality and Data Security Review', included in the documentation.