General - Employment and labour
Social attitudes and behaviour - Society and culture
1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) - Major studies
Family life and marriage - Social stratification and groupings
Childbearing, family planning and abortion - Health
Child development and child rearing - Social stratification and groupings
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 1970 British Cohort Study, 2004-2005 was conducted when respondents were aged 34. The main aim of this survey was to explore the factors central to the formation and maintenance of adult identity in each of the following domains:
For the third edition (May 2013) a new derived variables data file was deposited with accompanying documentation. See the documents covering Derived Variables and Region Variables for further details.
- lifelong learning
- relationships, parenting and housing
- employment and income
- health and health behaviour
- citizenship and values
Topics covered in the BCS70 cohort member interviews for 2004-2005 included:
Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI):
housing; partnerships, current and former; births and other pregnancies; periods of lone parenthood; children and the wider family; family income; employment status/employment history; academic education; vocational training; access to and use of computers; basic skills; general health; diet and exercise; height and weight; family activities; social participation; social support
Computer Aided Self-completion Interviewing (CASI):
political attitudes; family life; drinking; general skills; psychological well-being; experience of crime adult assessments; basic skills (literacy and numeracy) questions in multiple choice format (CASI/CAPI); basic skills (literacy and numeracy) questions in an open-response format (CAPI); reading/writing exercises (adapted from the Dyslexia Adult Screening Test)
Parent and Child Interviews:
Cohort members with resident natural/adopted child aged <17 in 1 in 2 sample parent interview (CAPI) age specific questions on: childs physical and mental health; mothers health-related behaviour during pregnancy; parent-child separations; pre-school care; current education; parental aspirations; consent for child assessments
Cohort members with resident natural/adopted child aged <17 in 1 in 2 sample parent self-completion (paper) age specific questions on: physical and cognitive development; parent/child relationship; childs behaviour and how s/he relates to other children and adults; disciplining children; school absence/exclusion; reading and schoolwork
Cohort members with resident natural/adopted child aged <17 in 1 in 2 sample child assessments age specific (3<17) assessments: early years (3:0 - 5:11); BAS naming vocabulary; BAS early number concepts; copying school age (6:0; 16:11); BAS word reading; BAS spelling; BAS number skills
Cohort members with resident natural/adopted child aged <17 in 1 in 2 sample Child (10<17) self-completion (paper): leisure time; relationship with their parents; attitudes to school and aspirations for the future; smoking, drinking, drug use and experience of petty crime; self-esteem
Publications based on BCS70 may be found on the Centre for Longitudinal Studies website.
Chamberlain, G., et al. (1975) British births 1970, London: Heinemann.
Crawley, H.F. (1993) 'The energy, nutrient and food intakes of teenagers 16-17 years in Britain: 1. energy, macronutrients and non-starch polysaccharides', British Journal of Nutrition, 70, pp. 15-26.
Crawley, H.F. (1993) 'The role of breakfast cereals in the diets of 16-17 year-old teenagers in Britain', Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 6, pp. 39-50.
Furlong, A. (1993) Schooling for jobs: changes in the career preparation of British secondary school children, Aldershot: Avebury.
Lewis, S., et al. (1995) 'Prospective study of risk factors for early and persistent wheezing in childhood', European Respiratory Journal, 8, pp.349-356.
Goodman, A. and Butler N. R. (1996) The 1970 British Cohort Study: the Sixteen-year Follow-up - a guide to the BCS70 16-year data available at the Economic and Social Research Council Data Archive, London: Social Statistics Research Unit, City University.
Butler, N., Despotidou, S., and Shepherd, P. (1997) 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) Ten-year Follow-up (formerly known as the Child Health and Education Study, CHES): a guide to the BCS 10-year data available at the Economic and Social Research Council Data Archive, London: Social Statistics Research Unit, City University.
Bynner, J., Ferri, E. and Shepherd, P. (1997) Twenty-something in the 1990s: getting on, getting by, getting nowhere, Aldershot: Ashgate.
Kallis, C. (2004) CLS Cohort Studies Data Note 4: BCS70 partnership histories, Centre for Multilevel Modelling, Bedford Group for Lifecourse and Statistical Studies, Institute of Education, University of London.
Steele, F., et al. (2005) 'The relationship between childbearing and transitions from marriage and cohabitation in Britain', Demography, 42.
Steele, F., et al. (2005) 'Changes in the relationship between the outcomes of cohabiting partnerships and fertility among young British women: evidence from the 1958 and 1970 Birth Cohort Studies', paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America, Philadelphia, 2005.