British Household Panel Survey, 1991-

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 1956 BHPS
  • Dates of Creation
      1991- [ongoing]
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      Electronic data of approximately 800 to 1700 MBs dependent upon format (Waves 1-10, 1991-2001. Size will increase with additional waves).
      Data are available in a number of formats including SPSS, STATA and ASCII tab-delimited. The data can be converted to other formats such as SAS.Each wave consists of approximately 10 data files.Documentation is primarily supplied in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

Scope and Content

The BHPS was designed as an annual survey of each adult (16+) member of a nationally representative sample of more than 5,000 households, making a total of approximately 10,000 individual interviews. The same individuals will be re-interviewed in successive waves and, if they split-off from original households, all adult members of their new households will also be interviewed. Children are interviewed once they reach the age of 16; there is also a special survey of 11-15 year old household members from Wave Four. Thus the sample should remain broadly representative of the population of Britain as it changes.

A major development at Wave 9 was the recruitment of two additional samples to the BHPS in Scotland and Wales. The target sample size in each country was 1500 households.

The questionnaire package consists of:

  • a. household coversheet
  • b. household composition form comprising a complete listing of all household members together with some brief summary data of their gender, date of birth, marital and employment status and their relationship to the household reference person.
  • c. short household questionnaire containing questions about the accommodation and tenure and some household level measures of consumption.
  • d. individual schedule administered with every adult member of the household (aged 16 or over). The individual questionnaire covers the following topics: neighbourhood; individual demographics; residential mobility; health and caring; current employment and earnings; employment changes over the past year; lifetime childbirth, marital and relationship history (Wave Two for main sample, supplemented for new entrants from Wave Eight onwards); employment status history (Wave Two only); values and opinions; household finances and organization.
  • e. self-completion questionnaire including subjective or attitudinal questions particularly vulnerable to the influence of other people's presence during completion, or potentially sensitive questions requiring additional privacy. It also contains attitudinal items and questions on social support.
  • f. proxy schedule: The questionnaire is a much shortened version of the individual questionnaire, collecting some demographic, health, and employment details, as well as a summary income measure.
  • g. telephone questionnaire, developed from the proxy schedule, for use when all other efforts to achieve a face-to-face interview have failed.
  • h. Since Wave 4, the youth questionnaire (aged 11-16 years) has been administered using a Walkman personal cassette tape player and a blank self-completion answer grid, as some of the questions are sensitive.

Measurement Scales - General Health Questionnaire; Activities of Daily Living.

Geographical identifiers in the data include: Local Authority Districts; Counties; Unitary Authority Areas

Administrative / Biographical History

The BHPS data set is now released under the auspices of the new ESRC UK Longitudinal Studies Centre (ULSC), which is one of the component parts of the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER). The BHPS is sponsored by the ESRC, the Health Education Authority, the Office for National Statistics, and Eurostat.

The main objective of the BHPS is to further our understanding of social and economic change at the individual and household level in Britain, to identify, model and forecast such changes, their causes and consequences in relation to a range of socio-economic variables.

A major development at Wave 9 was the recruitment of two additional samples to the BHPS in Scotland and Wales. There were two main aims of the extensions. First, to increase the relatively small Scottish and Welsh sample sizes in order to permit independent analysis of the two countries. Second, to facilitate analysis of the two countries compared to England in order to assess the impacts of the substantial public policy changes which may be expected to follow from devolution.

The BHPS also provides the UK component of the European Community Household Panel (ECHP) (from Wave seven onwards).


The data is held and supplied as a panel dataset.

Access Information

Available to UK Data Archive registered users.


Sources for the information in this record include the UK Data Archive catalogue records and the BHPS documentation.

Record created by Karen Dennison, UK Data Archive.

Other Finding Aids

UK Data Archive web pages:

Conditions Governing Use

Users are required to agree to certain conditions of use, including those governing reproduction and those relating to citation, acknowledgement and disclaimer for publications.

Appraisal Information

All datasets available from the UK Data Archive have been reviewed by an Acquisitions Review Committee.


Data will continue to be updated on an annual basis for the foreseeable future.

Related Material

Related datasets held at the UK Data Archive are listed in the appropriate UK Data Archive online catalogue records and include:

  • British Household Panel Survey Combined Work-Life History Data (study number 3954)
  • British Household Panel Survey Derived Current and Annual Net Household Income Variables (study number 3909)


References and publications by principal investigators and resulting from secondary analysis are listed in the UK Data Archive online catalogue records.

Geographical Names