Next Steps Age 25 Sweep

Sweep details

Dates August 2015 - September 2016
Age 25
Achieved sample 7,707 (cohort members)
Respondents Cohort members
Fieldwork agency NatCen Social Research
Survey mode Sequential mixed mode involving web, telephone and face to face
Data access

Dataset available via the UK Data Service [SN 5545]. Visit the UK Data Service to access the data.


The Age 25 sweep was the first in five years, and represented a major relaunch for the study under the management of CLS for the first time.

The aim of the sweep was to increase our understanding of the lives of young adults growing up today, and in particular transitions out of education and into early adult life.

The content of the questionnaire was broadened to cover a range of different disciplinary areas, providing greater comparability with the other CLS cohort studies and a baseline for the study of later life outcomes, as well as maintaining comparability with previous waves of Next Steps in key areas.

Cohort members answered questions about their education and job training, employment and economic circumstances, housing and family life, physical and emotional health, and risky behaviours.

A wide range of administrative data linkage consents were also collected covering health, education, economics and criminal behaviour.

Data was collected from the cohort member only, using a sequential mixed mode approach where participants were first invited to take part on the web, followed by telephone and then face-to-face.

Extensive efforts were made to maximise the size and representativeness of the sample through attempting to trace and contact everyone who had ever taken part in the study. A wide range of best practice strategies were  employed including extensive tracing through administrative records and the use of a monetary incentive conditional on participation.

Initial findings

We’ve published a series of briefings on the Age 25 Sweepcovering a range of themes, from health to political perceptions.

Special features at age 25


Cohort members’ health is an important aspect in the Age 25 sweep. Cohort members were therefore asked a range of questions about their physical and emotional health and wellbeing.

At age 25, the study collected information about cohort members’ health in general, physical or mental health conditions or illnesses lasting or expected to last 12 or more months, and whether they thought they would reduce their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.

They were also asked for their height and weight, how frequently they exercise, their average hours of sleep and how frequently they have fizzy drinks and takeaways.

The 12-Item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) was used as a measure of current mental health. Further questions focused on cohort members’ general levels of happiness, depression and self-confidence, as well as life satisfaction.

Attitudes and political values

Today’s young adults face many economic and political challenges. As a result, their formation of identity, perception of opportunity, and political values are of considerable interest.

The questionnaire therefore included a number of questions related to cohort members’ interest in politics. They were asked whether they thought Britain today is a place where hard work is rewarded, and if they thought there were similar opportunities as those experienced by previous generations. Cohort members were asked about the degree of control they feel that they have and whether they feel like adults, feel like they are mature and feel like they command respect.

Labour market relations

Labour market entry is a key milestone in cohort members’ transitions from adolescence to young adulthood. Work participation is thus a strong theme in the Age 25 sweep.

Cohort members were asked about their current and previous employment, employment details, employment support, work attitudes, and partner’s employment. Further details were collected about whether the job was permanent or not, shift working, internships, zero-hour contracts and whether their qualifications were needed for the job.

An economic activity history was collected back to age 16 or their last interview (if more recent), and an event history calendar involving a visual timeline was developed to aid recall over this period. Occupational coding was carried out during the interview, either by cohort members on their own (where they responded by web) or interviewers, using a look-up feature for the detailed four-digit standard occupation code (SOC2010).

Administrative records linkage

Updated: January 2024

Seeking data linkage consent was a major component of the Age 25 sweep. Nine linkages were sought from four different domains – education, health, economics and crime.

Some of these data linkages are now in place and we are working towards the others.

Linked data currently available:


  • NHS Hospital Episode Statistics (up until 2017)


  • Data from Individualised Learner Records
  • Data from the National Pupil Database (NPD) for Key Stages 2, 3, 4 and 5 and school level data
  • Student Loans Company information, covering amount taken out in loans and institution attended

Future data linkages:


  • NHS primary care data
  • NHS Hospital Episode Statistics data refresh (with COVID-related ICD-10 codes)


  • Higher Education Statistics Agency information on university participation and attainment
  • Universities and Colleges Admissions Service data, covering higher education applications and offers


  • Department for Work and Pensions data on benefits and employment programs.
  • HM Revenue and Customs data on employment, earnings, tax records, occupational pensions and National Insurance contributions.
  • Cohort members who consented to economic linkages were also asked for their National Insurance number.


  • Ministry of Justice information held on the Police National Computer, covering arrests, cautions and sentences.


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

Next Steps Age 25 Survey – User Guide

This user guide provides information about the data arising from the Next Steps Age 25 sweep and supports the deposit of the data at the UK Data Archive.

Date published: 15/07/2021
PDF: 551,63 KB


Next Steps User Guide to Linked Health Administrative Datasets – Hospital Episode Statistics (HES)

This guide describes the data linkage of health administrative records from the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) to survey data for cohort members in Next Steps.

Date published: 29/09/2020
PDF: 449,17 KB


Next Steps User Guide to Linked Individualised Learner Records (ILR) Learner and Learning Aims Datasets

This user guide accompanies the datasets linking education data to the records of Next Steps participants based in England. The Individualised Learner Record (ILR) is a collection of data about learners and the learning undertaken in further education (FE) in England.

Date published: 22/01/2020
PDF: 231,99 KB


Next Steps User Guide to the Linked National Pupil Database (NPD) KS4 and KS5 Datasets

This user guide accompanies the datasets linking education data (Key Stage 4 and 5) to the records of Next Steps participants based in England.

Date published: 22/01/2020
PDF: 333,7 KB


Next Steps Linked Student Loans Company Administrative Datasets – User Guide

This guide describes the data linkage of student loans data from the Student Loans Company (SLC) to survey data for cohort members in Next Steps.

Date published: 18/10/2021
PDF: 267,71 KB


Next Steps Age 25 – Derived variables user guide

Date published: 02/10/2017
PDF: 228,5 KB


Next Steps Age 25 Survey Questionnaire

Next Steps cohort members completed this questionnaire for the Age 25 sweep.

Date published: 01/05/2017
PDF: 965,6 KB

Technical reports

Next Steps Age 25 Technical Report

This technical report accompanies the Next Steps Age 25 sweep.

Date published: 01/08/2017
PDF: 2,02 MB


Next Steps Age 25 Technical Report Appendix A

Appendix A of the Next Steps Age 25 Technical Report

Date published: 01/08/2017
PDF: 19,27 MB


Next Steps Age 25 Technical Report Appendix B

Appendix B of the Next Steps Age 25 Technical Report

Date published: 01/08/2017
PDF: 6,14 MB

Data notes

Next Steps continuous weekly income – Note

We have recently detected a bug in the code used to derive continuous weekly income at age 25 (W8DINCW). We debugged the code and have now redeposited the amended variable. It was made available for download via the UK Data Archive in July 2021.

Date published: 08/11/2021
PDF: 95,42 KB


Next Steps – Notification of change of serial numbers

This document explains changes to serial numbers in 2017.

Date published: 01/05/2017
PDF: 155,96 KB

Contact us

Centre for Longitudinal Studies
UCL Social Research Institute

20 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AL


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