Who are our participants?

Understanding Society is designed to be representative of the UK population. Our participants were selected to represent all areas of the UK, all ages and all educational and social backgrounds.

The sample is large enough to have around 10,000 people for each birth cohort per decade from the 1940s onwards. We also have approximately 17,000 children who have been born into the Study since the year 2000.

We have a number of multi-generation families who are part of the Study. In 2019 Understanding Society had over 18,500 two generation and 2,700 three generation families taking part in the Study.

As a household panel study, Understanding Society is changing over time. As families and individuals move and change new households are created. We follow our core sample household members as they move to new households and form new families. All longitudinal studies experience some level attrition, where participants leave the Study or are no longer able to take part. At the moment we don’t continue to interview participants if they move outside the UK. In the last wave of data collection over 95% of participants who participated in the previous wave continued to take part in Understanding Society, making us one of the most stable longitudinal studies in the world.

Can I offer to become an Understanding Society participant? 

No, you can't. Our participants are seclected on very specific scientific criteria and so we cannot accept volunteers. New participants do join Understanding Society, but only if  they move into a household which is part of the Study.