MCS Age 22 Sweep

Sweep details

Sweep status In development.
Dates 2022-3
Age 22
Respondents Cohort members
Data access Plans are to make the data available via the UK Data Service in 2025

We are planning the Age 22 Sweep as a face-to-face data collection with cohort members. It will include questions on transitions in employment, education, partnerships, fertility and residence, among others, alongside anthropometric measurements and objective measures of cognitive skills and processes. We are considering interviewing resident partners of cohort members and collecting some information on offspring. Consents to data linkage may also be included. The Age 22 Sweep is core-funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Consultation timetable
Phase Date(s)
Online consultation 25 February to 26 March 2021
Consultative conference 25 May 2021
Consultation on draft questionnaires 28 July to 6 September 2021

Study background

The Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) is a large, nationally representative birth cohort study following the lives of over 19,000 cohort members since their infancy. The study has now run for seven sweeps, at ages 9 months, 3, 5, 7, 11, 14 and 17, providing an incredibly rich picture of lives of this generation. Further detail can be found here. It has also collected data through three online COVID-19 surveys at ages 19 and 20.

The aim of the Age 22 Sweep is to provide data for research and policy on the lives of this generation at an important milestone, with the cohort on the cusp of maturation to adulthood.

Life at age 22

The early 20s are an exceptionally dynamic period of life, traditionally characterised by five role transitions – in employment, education, partnerships, fertility and residence. The additional strain brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to be severe, striking at a time when the cohort are navigating critical transitions in education and the labour market.

A summary of content for Sweeps 1-7 is available here. The next section sets out what’s proposed to be covered in the Age 22 Sweep.

Consultation on draft content for the Age 22 Sweep

Consultation on draft questionnaires (closed 6 September 2021)

The questionnaires for the Age 22 Sweep are still under development. However, our initial drafts are available to view below. You will see that in some cases we have proposed draft question wording, and in others we have proposed fairly high level topics ­– these tend to be the areas that involve quite complex routingn.

You can also read a list of the topics covered here.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this consultation phase. There will be a further opportunity to comment on the content and questions included in the sweep before the questionnaires are finalised.

  • Education, learning and skills, including academic and vocational learning and apprenticeships, educational experiences including interruptions to learning, and qualifications.
    Download draft questionnaire
  • Employment transitions, economic circumstances, the nature of work, including occupation, income, labour market transitions; asset accumulation such as housing.
    Download draft questionnaire
  • Mental health and wellbeing, including psychological distress and anxiety, mental wellbeing, life satisfaction, loneliness, coping mechanisms.
    Download draft questionnaire
  • Physical health and health behaviours, including weight, substance use, sleep, diet and exercise.
    Download draft questionnaire
  • Family and household, including material and other types of support to/from parents and other family members, and its role in social mobility processes; social roles and interactions (both online and offline); partnership formation and fertility.
    Download draft questionnaire
  • Identity and attitudes, including political attitudes, behaviours and attitudes towards the environment.
    Download draft questionnaire
  • Future aspirations, including starting a family and buying own home.
    Download draft questionnaire
  • Other, including risky behaviours, social media, and gambling.
    Download draft questionnaire

The Age 22 Sweep will also collect information about skills and development, including cognitive processes such as impulse control, emotion perception, short-term memory, inequity aversion, and psychosocial skills such as personality, persistence, motivation, leadership, attitudes to risk, and delayed gratification.

We are also considering the following:

  • Interviewing resident partners of cohort members: by age 22, we expect around one in five cohort members to have formed partnerships and to be residing with them. This provides a first opportunity to study partnership formation, including how choice of partner and their characteristics relate to previous life experiences and circumstances.
  • Collecting information on offspring: we expect between 5% and 10% of the cohort to have a baby when surveyed. This provides an opportunity for capturing some key prospective information on experiences and behaviours in the prenatal period and/or early infanthood via self-report.

Earlier consultation phases

On 25 May we held an interactive half-day online event to help shape the content of the Millennium Cohort Study Age 22 Sweep. Participants joined themed discussion sessions to explore the key topics and questions to include in the next survey. Prior to this, in February to March 2021, we invited people to send us their suggestions for the content of the sweep.

Learn more about the event.

Contact us

Centre for Longitudinal Studies
UCL Social Research Institute

20 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AL