UK Data Service data catalogue record for:

New Survey of London Life and Labour, 1929-1931

Title details

SN: 3758
Title: New Survey of London Life and Labour, 1929-1931
Persistent identifier: 10.5255/UKDA-SN-3758-1
Depositor: Hatton, T.J., University of Essex. Department of Economics
Principal investigator(s): Hatton, T.J., University of Essex. Department of Economics
Bailey, R.E., University of Essex. Department of Economics
Baines, D.E., London School of Economics and Political Science. Department of Economic History
Johnson, P.A., London School of Economics and Political Science. Department of Economic History
Raspin, A., London School of Economics and Political Science. British Library of Political and Economic Science
Sponsor(s): Economic and Social Research Council
Grant number: R000235697; R000221981
Other acknowledgements: A. Leith, London School of Economics and Political Science. Department of Economics, was responsible for administering the data input, checking and cleaning the data, coding the data, and documenting the data.


The citation for this study is:

Hatton, T.J., Bailey, R.E., Baines, D.E., Johnson, P.A., Raspin, A. (1999). New Survey of London Life and Labour, 1929-1931. [data collection]. 2nd Edition. UK Data Service. SN: 3758,

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Subject Categories

Community and urban studies - Society and culture
Economic history - History
General - Employment and labour
Local history - History
Social history - History
Unemployment - Employment and labour
Urban history - History
Use and provision of specific social services - Social welfare policy and systems


Abstract copyright UK Data Service and data collection copyright owner.

The main aims of the research project were to computerise all the surviving records of the New Survey of London Life and Labour (1929-31), and to begin economic analysis of the data obtained. The specific objectives were:
1. To input the data in a manner which would preserve virtually all the information presented on the cards, and to ensure that the machine readable records replicate that information as faithfully as possible.
2. To organise the data in the form of a relational database
3. To check the data against the original cards, to code some of the variables (e.g. labour market status), and to correct inconsistencies in the original records.
4. To undertake separate coding sub-projects for occupations, birthplaces and street quality.
5. To document the results obtained in the form of a codebook and a companion paper to explain the methods employed in the computerisation.

An earlier project was carried out in the USA in 1983-1986, based on the same data, involved computerisation of a 10% sample of the original source, plus a 50% sample of the households containing at least one unemployed person. That study is available from ICPSR - see New Survey of London Life and Labor, 1929-1931. Apart from the fact that they are both based on the same data source, there is no other connection between the two projects.

Main Topics:
The New Survey of London Life and Labour (NSLLL) survey was undertaken at the London School of Economics in 1929-31 to measure changes in living standards and in the scale and incidence of poverty among London's working class. It constitutes a unique source of microdata for economic and social history. One aim of the survey was to evaluate changes in working class living conditions since Charles Booth's pioneering survey of forty years earlier. The main component of the survey was a detailed household enquiry conducted mainly in the years 1929-31, during which information was collected on 28,000 households, about one in fifty of all working class households, in 38 London Boroughs. The pre-printed household record cards survive for 36 of the 38 boroughs and are held in the British Library of Economic and Political Science.
The NSLLL is one of a number of social surveys, all essentially following the design established by Rowntree, Bowley and others. It was by far the greatest of these and the only one covering Britain's capital city. The NSLLL appears to be the only one of the social surveys conducted between 1900 and 1950 for which a significant number of the original record cards survive. It is therefore an unrivalled source for the analysis of economic and social conditions using modern computer methods.
The cards include data on the demographic structure of each household, and household income and the earnings and work expenses of each earner in the household. In addition there is detailed information on housing conditions, the number and type of rooms occupied as well as type of tenure and rent paid and received. The information in the survey offers great potential for micro-socioeconomic research in a number of fields including poverty and welfare, labour markets and unemployment, migration and labour mobility, household structure and dependency, and the housing market.

In March 1999, a second edition of this dataset was added to the Archive's collection. The new edition included some additional material :
a file of workplace geographical location codes and adjacency codes providing information about the geographical relationship between each earner's borough of residence and borough of employment;
a file of dates providing estimates of the year of interview (where this was possible and not already included on the interview card);
amendments to the employment status code to signal those individuals for whom earnings were combined jointly with at least one other person in the same household (affects 191 earners);
amendments to data for hours and earnings (the corrections affect approximately 40 individuals in about 30 households).

Please note: this study does not include information on named individuals and would therefore not be useful for personal family history research.

Coverage, universe, methodology

Time period: 1929 - 1931
Dates of fieldwork: 1995 - 1997 -
The fieldwork for the New Survey of London Life and Labour was carried out 1929-1931 at the London School of Economics. The survey was computerised 1995-1997.
Country: England
Geography: Acton
Bethnal Green
East Ham
St. Maryleborne
St. Pancras
Stoke Newington
West Ham
Greater London
Spatial units: Local Authority Districts
London Boroughs
Observation units: Individuals
Kind of data: Textual data
Numeric data
Individual (micro) level
Universe: Subnational
Working class households (with income of less than 250 pounds per annum) in London, 1929-1931
Time dimensions: Cross-sectional (one-time) study
Sampling procedures: No sampling (total universe)
All surviving working class household record cards were computerised
Number of units: 26915 (target) 26915 (obtained)
Method of data collection: Transcription of existing materials
Weighting: No information recorded
Data sources: New Survey of London Life and Labour (1929-1931) household record cards held in the British Library of Economic and Political Science at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The data are a complete transcription of the surviving working class household records cards. Excluded are:
1. All cards for middle class and Jewish households. In most cases these cards were only partially completed.
2. Working class cards for the boroughs of Tottenham and Walthamstow. These cards have been lost.

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Administrative and access information

Date of release:
First edition: 28 November 1997
Latest edition: 24 March 1999 (2nd Edition)
Copyright: Copyright British Library of Political and Economic Science, T.J. Hatton, D.E. Baines, R.E. Bailey, P.A. Johnson and A.Raspin
Access conditions: The depositor has specified that registration is required and standard conditions of use apply. The depositor may be informed about usage. See terms and conditions for further information.
Please note: Prospective users should note that this study would not be useful for genealogical research.
Availability: UK Data Service
Contact: Get in touch


Title File Name Size (KB)
SN 3758 - New Survey of London Life and Labour, 1929-1931, A Companion Paper 3758compan.pdf 2990
SN 3758 - New Survey of London Life and Labour, 1929-1931, User Guide 3758userguide.pdf 1425
Study information and citation UKDA_Study_3758_Information.htm 6
READ File read3758.txt 3
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By principal investigator(s):
Baines, D. and Johnson, P. (1997) 'The Labour Force Participation and Economic Well-being of Older Men in London, 1929-31', Working papers in economic history, London School of Economics and Political Science, 37(97), pp.31.

Hatton, T. and Bailey, R. (1998) 'Poverty and the Welfare State in interwar London', Oxford Economic Papers, 50(4), October, pp.574-606.

Resulting from secondary analysis:


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