UK Data Service series record for:

English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Series abstract

The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) study, which began in 2002 (though the sample was constructed from earlier data) is a longitudinal survey of ageing and quality of life among older people. It explores the dynamic relationships between health and functioning, social networks and participation, and economic position as people plan for, move into and progress beyond retirement. The study is funded jointly by UK government departments and the National Institute on Aging, in the USA.

Data access

GN 33368  |  English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

SNStudy DescriptionExplore OnlineDownload / Order  
5050 English Longitudinal Study of Ageing: Waves 0-6, 1998-2013 -
Add these datasets to my order

Getting started

How can I find out about the datasets – variables, population, sample size etc.?


What format are the data in and where can I download them from?


How do I get started with analysing survey data?



What is the main objective of ELSA?

The aim of ELSA is to explore the unfolding dynamic relationships between health, functioning, social networks and economic position. It is in effect a study of people's quality of life as they age beyond 50 and of the factors associated with it.

How often are people interviewed for the survey and who is interviewed?

A sample of people over the age of 50 are interviewed every two years. The ELSA sample was selected from three survey years of the Health Survey for England (1998, 1999 and 2001). Households were included in ELSA if they contained at least one adult of 50 years or older in the household who had agreed to be recontacted at some time in the future.

What formats are the data available in?

The data are available in SPSS, Stata, SAS and ASCII tab-delimited formats.

Where can I obtain statistics and tables from ELSA?

Details of publications are available on the NatCen Ageing research web page.

Downloadable reports are available on the IFS Publications web page.

Details of publications are given in the ELSA resources section of the Guide to the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

What is the most detailed regional level I can analyse the data at?

For information on the availability of geographical variables for each of the major ESDS Longitudinal studies, see Geography variables.

Does ELSA use standard coding schemes?

ELSA uses the following standard measures:

  • Rose Angina Questionnaire
  • Edinburgh Claudication Questionnaire
  • MRC Respiratory Questionnaire
  • CES-D depression scale (8-item)
  • General Health Questionnaire (12-item)
  • CASP-19

Before I order, how do I find out what questions/variables are included?

Variable lists and PDF user guides (including questionnaires) are freely available via English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

When are future waves/sweeps likely to be made available?

Wave 5 of the study is due to take place in 2010-2011 and data are expected to be deposited in 2012.

Related studies:

English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA); Wave 1, 2002-2003: Teaching Dataset (SN 5172)
Understanding the Importance of Work Histories in Determining Poverty in Old Age: Variables Derived from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, 2002-2007 (SN 6427)

Related case studies:

Ageing in a cultural context: Disability and control in the US and England
Approaching retirement: Expectations and financial decisions
The impact of social isolation and loneliness on mortality in older people
Free bus pass policy: Does it keep our senior citizens slim?
Upskilling PhD students and researchers in data and methods
Enjoying life and living longer

Related support guides:

Physical Functioning in Older Adults (Survey Question Bank Topic Overview 5)


Back to top