About the study

Understanding Society is an innovative world-leading study about 21st century UK life and how it is changing. It captures important information about people’s social and economic circumstances, attitudes, behaviours and health. The study is longitudinal in its design and of high quality.

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Largest household study of its kind

We interview the same people in the same households each year to build a longitudinal picture of how their lives are changing over time.

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Represents the diversity of the UK

Our participants live in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England and all of Britain’s ethnic groups are represented in our Ethnicity Sample.

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Issues that affect all our lives

Our questionnaires cover a wide variety of themes such as family, education, finance, employment, health and wellbeing. Read about the carefully-chosen questions we ask.

Who is it for?

Understanding Society data and research is used by a range of audiences. Primarily, it is used to produce research to inform, influence and check the success of social, economic and health policy and practice in the UK and abroad.

Who for researchers

Researchers and analysts

Researchers in academic and non-academic institutions (including economists, health researchers and social scientists) analyse the study’s data to draw more accurate conclusions about how UK lives are changing. See our working papers and case studies.

Who for policy makers

Policy makers and campaigning organisations

Evidence produced by careful research is used by policy-related organisations including Government departments, charities and think tanks. Our Policy Unit is responsible for liaising with these organisations.

Who for public

The general public

Wider society benefits from well-informed social and economic policies, based on quality evidence. We regularly share research news on our website, with our participants and the media, so everybody can hear about these.

Key Features

Building on the British Household Panel Survey data that lasted for 25 years, the study has the following unique features, which combine to make it a powerful research tool.

Key features innovation

Innovation Panel

A unique resource for carrying out experimental longitudinal and methodological research.

Key features ethnicity


The study has a boost sample of over 6,000 adults from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Who’s who

Get in touch

If you have any questions, please visit our contacts page and get in touch or visit our FAQ's.