The 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) began in 1970 when data were collected about the births and families of babies born in the United Kingdom in one particular week in 1970. The first wave, called the British Births Survey, was carried out by the National Birthday Trust Fund in association with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Its aims were to examine the social and biological characteristics of the mother in relation to neonatal morbidity, and to compare the results with those of the National Child Development Study (NCDS), which commenced in 1958 (held separately at the UK Data Archive under GN 33004). Participants from Northern Ireland, who had been included in the birth survey, were dropped from the study in all subsequent sweeps, which only included respondents from Great Britain.
Since BCS70 began, there have been seven full data collection exercises in order to monitor the cohort members' health, education, social and economic circumstances. These took place when respondents were aged 5, in 1975 (held under SN 2699), aged 10, in 1980 (SN 3723), aged 16, in 1986 (SN 3535), aged 26, in 1996 (SN 3833), aged 30, 1999-2000 (SN 5558), and aged 34, in 2004-2005 (SN 5585). The first two sweeps (at 5 and 10 years) were carried out by the Department of Child Health at Bristol University. During these times, the survey was known as the Child Health and Education Study (CHES). The 16-year survey was carried out by the International Centre for Child Studies and named Youthscan. The Social Statistics Research Unit (SSRU) became involved with the BCS70 study at this time, and eventually changed its name to the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS), based at the Institute of Education, University of London. With each successive attempt, the scope of BCS70 has broadened from a strictly medical focus at birth, to encompass physical and educational development at the age of 5, physical, educational and social development at the ages of 10 and 16, and physical, educational, social and economic development at 26 years and beyond. Further information about the BCS70 and may be found on the Centre for Longitudinal Studies website. As well as BCS70, the CLS now also conducts the NCDS series.
A separate dataset covering response to BCS70 over all seven waves is available under SN 5641, 1970 British Cohort Study Response Dataset, 1970-2005. Users are advised to order this study alongside the other waves of BCS70.
Subsample, supplementary and related studies
A range of sub-sample and supplementary surveys have also been conducted, such as the Ten-year Follow-up Special Needs Survey (held under SN 7064) and a supplementary survey of head teachers (held under SN 5225) at the time of the 16-year follow-up in 1986. A related study, Coding of Text Data from BCS70 at 10 and 16 Years: Health Care Utilisation of School Aged Children, 1970-1986, is also held under SN 4126. The aim of this project was to code text variables from BCS70 files, selected from the ten- and 16-year follow-ups to provide information about health care utilisation by the target age group.
The survey comprised four sections: the main interview, a set of literacy and numeracy assessments and two self-completion questionnaires ('Your Life Since 1986' and 'Your Views').
The interview covered qualifications, training, current employment, unemployment, reading and writing behaviour, literacy and numeracy self-appraisal, household composition, relationships, children, housing, income and health.
The literacy and numeracy assessments comprised a series of 17 tasks using showcards, to assess reading, writing, comprehension and simple mathematical skills.
Self-completion: the 'Your Life Since 1986' questionnaire covered employment and education histories since 1986, and 'Your Views' gathered information on attitudes to employment, education, literacy, numeracy, self-efficacy, health and opinion of respondent's life so far.
Malaise Inventory: a measure for the assessment of psychiatric morbidity, developed by Rutter and others at the Institute of Psychiatry from the Cornell Medical index. Full references:
Rutter, M., Tizard, J. and Whitemore, K. (1970) Education, health and behaviour, London.
Rodgers, B. et al (1999) 'Validity of the Malaise Inventory in general population samples' Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, vol.34, pp.333-341.