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Understanding Society

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Understanding Society is an innovative world-leading study about 21st century UK life and how it is changing.


Understanding Society is the world’s largest longitudinal social science study, tracking the social and economic circumstances of 40,000 households across the UK. We speak to the same respondents each year to find out how their lives, behaviours and attitudes change over time. 


You can read Understanding attitudes to the European Union: an intra-household perspective

The latest annual report 'Insights 2016' is now available to download from the Understanding Society website


In 2008, a nationally representative sample of households was selected for the study, including a boost sample of over 6,000 ethnic minority adults. In 2010, households from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) were also incorporated into the sample.

Each household is visited once every 12 months to collect information on the individuals and the household. All adults are interviewed either face-to-face or over the phone, and younger participants (aged 10-15) complete a paper questionnaire.

Before each wave, we conduct a separate smaller longitudinal study known as the ‘Innovation Panel’. Its purpose is to test new questions, methods of data collection and survey procedures, to inform best practice on the main study and other social surveys.  

In 2010, our nurses began collecting a range of bio-medical measures from a sub-sample of around 20,000 adults. 

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Read the reports and working papers

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