Life history and healthy ageing


This project was part of a collaborative research programme entitled ‘Healthy Ageing across the Life Course’ (HALCyon). This programme was funded under the New Dynamics of Ageing initiative – a cross council multi-disciplinary research.

Research details

Project title

Life History and Healthy Ageing

Project lead

Jane Elliott



Mental health and wellbeing



HALCyon brings together researchers who are specialists in ageing, cohort studies or research methods and non-academic partners who use research findings, so that the research is sound, comparable and shared with those who need it.  CLS undertook the ‘Life history and healthy ageing’ strand of this collaborative programme.

We interviewed a sample of study members from three of the cohorts to collect qualitative information. This information was then linked with the quantitative data using special software. We were then able to see if there are relationships between people’s life stories, their sense of wellbeing and the physical process of ageing.

Through in-depth interviews this research gave selected cohort members the opportunity to construct narratives about their own lives and identities. We used these narratives to:

  • Make comparisons between cohorts about the meaning and experience of ageing
  • Look for key individual, family and contextual influences on people’s sense of wellbeing
  • Understand how experiences in early life may shape adult lifestyles
  • Generate new hypotheses to test using quantitative methods

You can find out full details about this collaborative research programme on the main HALCyon website.

Featured scientific publications

Neighbourhood cohesion and mental wellbeing among older adults: A mixed methods approach.
Social Science & Medicine, 107(April 2014), 44–51.
Read the full paper
PARSONS, S, GALE, C, KUH, D, ELLIOTT, J and the HALCYON Study Team. (2014)
Physical capability and the advantages and disadvantages of ageing: perceptions of older age by men and women in two British cohorts.
Ageing and Society, 34(3), 452-471.
Read the full paper


Jane Elliott University of Exeter

View Jane’s biography on the University of Exeter website here.

Sam Parsons Principal Research Fellow

Phone: 020 7612 6882

Sam has a long history of producing research based on the British Birth Cohorts, from the antecedents and consequences of poor basic skills in adult life, to more recent research focusing on poorer outcomes for children with Special Education Needs, the gendered occupational occupations of teenagers and the long-term advantages for men and women who attended a private school and/or an elite university.

Relevant studies

Contact us

Centre for Longitudinal Studies
UCL Social Research Institute

20 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AL


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