BCS70 Age 42 Sweep

Sweep details

Dates May 2012 – April 2013
Age 42-43
Achieved sample 9,841 (cohort members)
Respondents Cohort member
Fieldwork agency TNS-BMRB
Survey mode Face to face
Data access

Main dataset available via the UK Data Service [SN 7473]. Visit the UK Data Service website to access the data.


The Age 42 Sweep involved a 60-minute interview and a paper self-completion questionnaire.

Topics covered included relationships, children, parents, place of residence, economic activity, income, qualifications and training, physical and mental health, smoking, drinking, diet, exercise, identity, attitudes and values, religion and leisure activities. A vocabulary test was also administered.

In addition, cohort members and partners were both asked for consent to link the data collected in the survey with information held by the NHS, the Department for Work and Pensions and HM Revenue & Customs.

Special features at age 42


At age 42, cohort members repeated a vocabulary test they first took in 1986 when they were aged 16.

BCS70 data are rich in cognitive measures taken during childhood and adolescence, and also include adult measures of literacy and numeracy. For the first time, the Age 42 Sweep included a repeat measure in adulthood of a cognitive scale which had been used previously with the cohort in childhood – a vocabulary test first taken in 1986, when the cohort members were 16 years old. This data allows researchers to explore the factors associated with changes in vocabulary level between 16 and 42.

Religious beliefs

For the first time, the Age 42 Sweep asked cohort members questions about belief in God and life after death.

Cohort members also answered questions about religious affiliation and practice, which have been asked previously. The sweep also included a number of questions about attitudes to religion and science. As a result BCS70 provides an excellent resource for helping us to understand the predictors of religious beliefs as well as their consequences in later life.

Fertility intentions

Cohort members answered a range of questions about their fertility and whether they had intended to have children.

Cohort members were asked a wide range of questions about their fertility intentions, use of infertility treatments, gynaecological problems, menopause, unsuccessful pregnancies, and any children who had passed away.

Data linkage

Cohort members were asked for consent to link survey data with health and economic records held by the NHS, DWP and HMRC.

Co-resident partners were also asked for consent to health and economic data linkage. Combining information from these records with the study data collected over the years will provide a much fuller picture of the health and economic circumstances of cohort members.


  • User guides
  • Questionnaires
  • Technical reports
  • Data notes
  • Additional
User guides

BCS70 Age 42 User Guide

User guide for the BCS70 age 42 survey dataset

Date published: 01/02/2014
PDF: 880,03 KB


BCS70 Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) User Guide

This guide describes the data linkage of health administrative records from the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) to survey data for cohort members in the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70).

Date published: 08/02/2021
PDF: 330,29 KB


BCS70 Partnership Histories (1986-2013) Guide

Date published: 01/10/2016
PDF: 370,43 KB


BCS70 Activity Histories (1986-2013) Guide

Date published: 01/07/2017
PDF: 660,51 KB


Handling missing data in the CLS cohort studies – User Guide

This user guide aims to describe and illustrate a straightforward approach to missing data handling, while detailing some more general considerations around missing data along the way.

Date published: 03/06/2024
PDF: 1000,62 KB


BCS70 Age 42 Main Stage Questionnaire

BCS Age 42 Paper representation of the main stage questionnaire with routing

Date published: 01/05/2012
PDF: 1,67 MB


BCS70 Age 42 Self-Completion Questionnaire

Self-Completion questionnaire for BCS Age 42 Sweep

Date published: 01/05/2012
PDF: 433,6 KB

Technical reports

BCS70 Age 42 Technical Report

Technical Report of the Age 42 Survey of BCS70

Date published: 01/05/2012
PDF: 2,05 MB

Data notes

No material of this type is available.


The art of asking questions about religion

We have included new questions in the 2012 survey of the BCS70, asking explicitly about belief in God and an afterlife. We provide a first look at preliminary findings from these new questions, which reveal the complexity of many respondents’ beliefs.

Date published: 01/11/2012
PDF: 181,47 KB


Research on health and health behaviours based on the 1970 British Cohort Study

This review covers research using information from the childhood waves of BCS70 (birth to 16 years) as either health outcomes or as predictors of later health outcomes. This paper will serve as a useful entry point for researchers investigating the extant literature on health using BCS70 data.

Date published: 01/10/2013
PDF: 1,07 MB


BCS70 Revised Region Variables (Third Edition)

This User Guide accompanies the deposits at the UK Data Archive of derived variables for each sweep of BCS70. These derived variable datasets are found under the study number for each of the sweeps and include variables for country of interview, region and government office regions.

Date published: 01/02/2014
PDF: 307,78 KB


BCS70 Ethical Review and Consent

Review of Ethical procedures used for each Sweep of BCS70.

Date published: 01/01/2019
PDF: 4,18 MB


BCS70 ethical review and consent

Date published: 07/07/2014
PDF: 3,02 MB

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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