Understanding Society

On 13 December the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) made an interim release of data for the general population component from Wave 1, Year 1 (running from 8 January 2009 to 7 March 2010) of Understanding Society, the new multi-topic United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS). The dataset is catalogued as SN 6614. The full release of Wave 1 will be made in 2011.

UKHLS is, in part, the successor to the British Household Panel Survey, waves 1-7, 9, 11 and 13-18 of which (spanning the years 1991-2009) included sundry religious variables. Entries for each of these waves appear in the BRIN source database, and the relevant data are available from ESDS (as SN 5151). The three other components of UKHLS are: the general population sample, the innovation panel, and an ethnic minority booster.

UKHLS is based at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex. Fieldwork is conducted by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) and, in Northern Ireland, by the Central Survey Unit of the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. Funding is provided by the Economic and Social Research Council and various Government departments and agencies.

UKHLS is an annual longitudinal (or panel) survey of the members of a nationally representative sample of approximately 40,000 households in the UK, the same individuals being re-interviewed in each wave. Each wave is collected over 24 months, the main first wave of data collection commencing in January 2009.

One person per household completes the household questionnaire. Additionally, each adult aged 16 and over is interviewed face-to-face and fills in a self-completion questionnaire. Young people aged 10 to 15 years are only asked to respond to a paper self-completion questionnaire. Wave 1, Year 1 of the general population sample had participation from 14,103 households (59% response) and 22,265 adults (86% response).

The principal religious interest of Wave 1 for adults is as follows: current religious affiliation; religion of upbringing; attendance at religious services; difference made by religious beliefs to a respondent’s life; religion as a perceived reason for discrimination in employment; and religion as a perceived reason for various forms of harassment. The young people’s questionnaire just covers religious affiliation.

Extensive documentation for Wave 1, Year 1 of UKHLS, including a codebook with basic frequencies, can be accessed at:


More background information about UKHLS in general will be found on the Understanding Society website:


British Religion in Numbers: All the material published on this website is subject to copyright. We explain further here.

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