Millennium Cohort Study age 17 data now available

News, Data release
2 October 2020

Data from the Age 17 Sweep of the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) are now available from the UK Data Service.

MCS is a birth cohort study following the lives of just over 19,500 young people across the UK, born in 2000-02. The data collected from this latest sweep provide rich insights into the experiences of a generation at a pivotal point in their lives, on the cusp of adulthood, and add to the wealth of information previously collected from the cohort throughout their formative years.

The Age 17 Sweep is the seventh sweep of the study and is the first to focus predominantly on hearing direct from cohort members about their experiences rather than questioning their parents, reflecting their increased independence as they moved into their adult lives.

A total of 10,757 cohort members took part in the sweep, which included a face to face interview, and self-completion and online questionnaires. Cohort members were also asked to complete a numbers-based task, providing an objective measure of their numeracy skills. Their height, weight and body fat were measured, capturing valuable objective data for health research. Both cohort members and parents completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire ­­­­­- a first for cohort members – strengthening the study’s position as a leading resource for examining the mental health and wellbeing of young people today.

Researchers will be able to use the new data, alongside information collected through previous sweeps, to examine how young people’s pathways diverge and the role prior life experiences play in this. The data cover a comprehensive range of topics, including education and training, transitions to the job market, mental health and wellbeing, physical development, personality, identity, attitudes and expectations, engagement in risky behaviours, and social media activity.

Professor Emla Fitzsimons, Director of the Millennium Cohort Study, said: “The Millennium Cohort Study has been tracking the lives of thousands of people since they were babies and is uniquely placed to help researchers better understand Gen Z and the influences on different spheres of their lives now, including their mental and physical health, their intellectual development and relationships.

“Taken together with data from our earlier sweeps, the new age 17 data will shed further light on how experiences in childhood can resonate through life, shaping the adults we become, and the pressures and challenges young people face. This in turn will help policymakers understand how best to support young people.

“Crucially, these new data give us a detailed picture of a generation’s lives before the coronavirus crisis struck, and this will be an important piece of the puzzle when we look at what the long term impacts of the pandemic have been on the lives of people in the UK.”

As part of this sweep, cohort members were also asked for consent to link a range of administrative records to their survey data, adding to the education data that have already been linked to the study. When available in the future, these linked datasets will expand the range of research opportunities made possible by MCS.

How to access the data

The Age 17 Sweep data are available from the UK Data Service.

Find out more

Detailed information on the content of the Age 17 Sweep is included in the user guide, available from the CLS website and the UK Data Service website.
The MCS Data Handling Guide is also available here.

The Longitudinal Family File contains information about the outcomes of a family in each sweep. This means that it can be used to follow cases longitudinally. It also includes the weights that have been calculated for sweeps 1 to 6 and the user can use them either for research on one sweep or when using more than one sweep. A user guide for this file is available here.


  1. The Age 17 Sweep of the Millennium Cohort Study was core-funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and co-funded by the following consortium of government departments: Department for Education, Department for the Economy NI (previously known as the Department for Employment & Learning NI), Department for Transport, Department of Education NI , Department of Health and Social Care, Department for Work & Pensions, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Home Office, Ministry of Justice, and the Welsh Government.

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