1958 National Child Development Study

1958 British birth cohort study

The 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS) follows the lives of 17,000 people born in England, Scotland and Wales in a single week of 1958.

The National Child Development Study (NCDS) started in 1958 as the Perinatal Mortality Survey. Sponsored by the National Birthday Trust Fund, the survey was designed to examine the social and obstetric factors associated with stillbirth and death in early infancy among the children born in Great Britain.

Following the initial birth survey, the cohort has been followed up nine times at ages 7, 11, 16, 23, 33, 42, 46, 50 and most recently at age 55.

By collecting information on various aspects of life, the NCDS has become an invaluable data source on such diverse topics as effects of socioeconomic circumstances on health, social mobility, and changes in social attitudes. Today the 1958 cohort is one of the best resources for understanding how retirement and ageing are changing in Britain.

With quantitative and qualitative, social and biomedical data, the 1958 cohort is a leading resource for both policy development and best practice in longitudinal research.

Management and funding

The NCDS is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and is managed by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies.

Accessing the data

The majority of NCDS survey data can be accessed by bona fide researchers through the UK Data Service at the University of Essex. Anyone wishing to access the data will need to register with the UK Data Service before downloading. Some datasets are only available via Special Licence, or via the UK Data Service Secure Lab. Access arrangements comply with ESRC Research Data Policy.

Data from the biomedical sweep collected in 2002/3, including most data generated from the biological samples is available via Special License. However, access to the majority of genotypes generated from NCDS participants is governed by the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium Data Access Committee. Access to genotypes linked to other variables, applications for access to DNA, and for new uses of biological samples is via the Access Committee for CLS Cohorts.

Research metadata, including basic frequencies, is available using NESSTAR at the UK Data Service. The Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) website provides copies of the questionnaires and documentation used in the study. The CLS data dictionary offers further metadata including variables and frequencies.

Special feature

Qualitative data available from the 1958 British birth cohort study

Prof Jane Elliott of CLS and Libby Bishop of the UK Data Archive discuss the rich qualitative data available to researchers from the 1958 National Child Development Study.