Tracking British Household Panel Survey members as they progress into Understanding Society
The release of wave 2 data from Understanding Society means that it is now possible to run analyses on
those respondents for whom data collected at wave 2 can effectively be considered wave 19 of the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS).
Understanding Society, the largest and newest of the UK's rich set of survey-based longitudinal studies, was designed to incorporate
and replace the BHPS.
For BHPS users accessing the data via the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS), this will mean that the catalogue
record for the BHPS study – SN 5151 –
will remain fixed in time, with coverage restricted to waves 1-18 and any updates reflecting data corrections only rather than new data collections.
BHPS users wishing to follow study members forward after wave 18 will therefore need to access the main Understanding Society data held
as SN 6614.
Our download records indicate that many BHPS users are already doing this, or at least using the BHPS and Understanding Society data
together: see, for example, Changing
experiences of mid-life. But other users may not be aware that tracking the progress of the BHPS cohort – and the measures contained within it –
after wave 18 is now possible.
Which BHPS members (cases) carry forward into Understanding Society?
All BHPS sample members were eligible to continue as part of Understanding Society.
How do I identify BHPS cases and merge Understanding Society data (SN 6614) with waves 1-18 data for the BHPS?
In the Understanding Society data for wave 2 there is a variable called B_MEMORIG (individual-level files) and another called B_HHORIG
(household-level files). These variables identify study members according to which 'sample' within Understanding Society they belong, including whether
members originated as BHPS GB, BHPS SCO, BHPS WAL or BHPS NI. To match BHPS cases held within Understanding Society data files, the variable PID should
be used, which is the same cross-wave person identifier that appears in waves 1-18 of the BHPS.
How do I identify BHPS questions/measures (variables) that continue into Understanding Society?
The documentation for Understanding Society states that:
most questionnaire variables which are carried in both surveys [BHPS and Understanding Society] will have the same main variable name, though with a different
wave prefix. Since the last wave of BHPS was wave 18, the wave prefix is 'R'. Thus if we wished to match [Understanding Society] wave 2 work status (b_jbstat) on
the [Understanding Society] file b_indresp to previous wave values, for the [Understanding Society] GPS sample we would match (using pidp) to a_indresp and use
the variable a_jbstat, while for the BHPS sample we would match (using pid) to rindresp and use the variable rjbstat.
Users familiar with a variable from the BHPS can also check to see whether it is included on Understanding Society via the
search tool on the Understanding Society website.
For example, a search for VOTE1 returns the following
of results. From those results, a user can click on a link to any instance of the variable w_VOTE1 in Understanding Society and find out more about the variable and look at the
question behind it.
What else should I know about?
Up to wave 18, data on the BHPS sample was collected annually. Between wave 18 of the BHPS and wave 2 of Understanding Society, the gap between interviews for the BHPS
sample ranged between 13 and 27 months. This means that for some (identical) questions which reference the time between interviews, responses may not be comparable. The gap
between surveys may also have affected contact and response rates – see Wave 2 Response from the ex-BHPS sample from 'An Initial Look at Non-Response and Attrition in Understanding Society'. Further details on
the practical issues of following the BHPS sample into Understanding Society can be found the study's user guide.