|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 percent 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, a study detailing partnership histories, compiled from NCDS sweeps 5 to 8, is held under SN 6940, and an employment histories dataset, compiled from NCDS sweeps 4 to 8, is held under SN 6942.
Further information about the NCDS can be found on the Centre for Longitudinal Studies website.
The eighth sweep of NCDS was conducted in 2008-2009, when respondents were aged 50 years. The core aims of the NCDS8 were to update the life history information collected in previous studies and to collect new information to help understand the ageing process. Many of the questions in the NCDS8 follow-up had been asked in earlier waves of the NCDS and the BCS, which will allow for the making of comparisons both across the sweeps of NCDS and with the BCS cohort.
The 2008-2009 survey is comprised of the following elements:
- a 55 minute a 'core' interview (included a Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI); Computer Assisted Self Interview (CASI); a series of cognitive assessments)
- a paper questionnaire
The NCDS8 has been deposited at the UK Data Archive in stages. For the first Archive edition (March 2009) an interim data file was deposited, based on 2,997 interviews completed between August and December 2008. This file comprised a subset of the full list of variables.
The second Archive edition (the first full sample edition) was released in February 2010. This deposit included responses to the bulk of the questions fielded to cohort members in 2008-2009. The variables that were not included in this file were essentially those that required the most complex post-fieldwork editing in order to make them usable, mostly those that related to the four 'history' modules; housing history, relationship history, fertility history and economic activity history. In addition, variables relating to absent children, older children and specific details of recently-achieved qualifications were not included (although a series of derived summary variables relating to highest qualification were).
For the third Archive edition (October 2012), the final version of NCDS8 was deposited. Two files, 'ncds_2008_followup.sav' and 'ncds8_unfolding_brackets.sav' replaced the previous single data file, a new User Guide replaced the previous version, and the Technical Report and Appendices were added to the documentation. For further details, see the User Guide.
The CAPI interview collected updated information about household composition, housing, relationships, births and other pregnancies, periods of lone parenthood, adopted children, absent and older children, parents, family income, economic activity, education and qualifications, work-related training, use of computers, health, smoking, drinking, exercise, height, weight, social participation and social support.
The CASI interview collected information on voting behaviour and party support, experience of symptoms of the menopause, problematic drinking behaviour, well-being, relationship satisfaction, domestic division of labour, job commitment, attitudes towards pensions and retirement, childhood, efficacy and life satisfaction.
The interview included several established scales: Kanungo's Job Involvement Scale; the AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) and the Malaise
The cognitive assessment module is comprised of four tasks: Word list recall test; Animal naming task; Letter cancellation task; Delayed word list recall test.