50 years of the 1970 British Cohort Study: 50 stories in 50 weeks

In April 2020 the 1970 British Cohort Study and our study participants turned 50!

To commemorate this huge milestone we celebrated BCS70’s contribution to science and society by publishing 50 stories over 50 weeks on the CLS website and on social media. If you missed it at the time, click on the links below to catch up on stories about study members’ lives, research findings, study data, podcasts, animated timelines, and more!

Find the BCS70 50 stories campaign using the hashtag #BCS7050stories on Twitter, and on the CLS website.

Discover the stories

Podcast series: 50 Years of Life in Britain

Our podcast series, ‘50 Years of Life in Britain’ explores the contribution BCS70 participants have made to improving British science and society. The six-part series tells their story, and charts the first five decades of the study.

1970s: the early years

It’s April 1970. Simon and Garfunkel have topped the UK charts with A Bridge Over Troubled Water, the Beatles’ split has hit the headlines, and the crew of Apollo 13 are preparing for lift off.

Meanwhile, in hospitals and homes up and down the country, thousands of new babies, all born within a week of each other, are being recruited to what will become one of the longest running and most important studies of its kind – the 1970 British Cohort Study.

1980s: coming of age

It was the decade of big hair, fluorescent socks, electropop, BMX bikes and the ZX Spectrum.

We surveyed cohort members twice during the 1980s, at ages 10 and 16. Over the course of the next seven stories, we share more about the data collected during this period and the insights we've gained from them.

1990s: moving forward

Grunge entered the mainstream, the dotcom industry took off, and Labour swept to victory with a commitment to “education, education, education”.

These next stories explore BCS70 in the 1990s – the data, the discoveries and the impact.

2000s: strong roots

We’d entered the social media age with Friends Reunited, followed by the infinitely more successful Facebook. Meanwhile, Apple brought us the iPod, transforming how we listened to music.
We surveyed cohort members three times in this first decade of the new millennium. The information collected has been used to explore a wide range of issues, from women’s pay to social mobility.

2010s: the middle years

Our cohort members entered their 40s as Britain stood on the precipice of a long period of austerity. A month after they celebrated the big 4–0, the coalition government took office and brought in measures aimed at improving the country’s financial position. The BCS70 data collected over this decade have already led to many discoveries about health, education and parenting, and in the future will also help us understand the impact of Austerity Britain on people’s lives.

2020s: COVID-19 and the future

It’s the decade that started with a bang: an unprecedented pandemic that took over the world, and changed all of our lives. As the COVID-19 crisis has unfolded, we have surveyed BCS70 participants three times. This is the first time we have asked participants in all four of our studies to complete the same survey at the same time. We are now making plans to launch our next major BCS70 sweep, which we had to pause when the pandemic hit, and are really excited to follow the next chapter in their lives.

Contact us

Centre for Longitudinal Studies
UCL Social Research Institute

20 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AL

Email: clsdata@ucl.ac.uk

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