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193 Commonwealth Games Questions 11/10/2015 02:18 PM Actions

HI There

I was just enquiring whether there was any questions on the Commonwealth Games 2002, or around any other major sporting events in the BHPS. I am aware of the questions asked in Understanding society and Taking Part on the Olympics but am more interested in commonwealth Game questions. Are you aware of any other surveys which may have asked questions around the commonwealth games 2002? Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks take care


Last notes

Unfortunately not

BHPS documentation


247 Data on Political Attitudes and Household debt 11/10/2015 12:23 PM Actions

Dear Sir/Madam,

I’m a PhD student in political economy at MIT and study the economic roots of political behavior. I found the BHPS a great source for my resource, but have a particular questions that I haven’t been able to answer so far. I am looking for a longitudinal dataset that has both questions on political attitudes towards government policies, e.g. social redistribution, spending on health care, etc., and information on households’ economic situation, in particular its indebtedness. As far as I can see, the Understanding Society Panel does not have questions on social redistribution. I know that the Wealth and Asset Survey and to a limited extend the BHS Derived Current and Annual Net Household Income Variables get at the latter part, but they do not include the political attitude variables. Hence my question if there is a subset or part of the BHS (or any other survey) that contains both of those dimensions, or is there a way to match households or individuals from the BHS panel to one of those other surveys?

Thanks so much for your help.



Last notes

Dear Andreas,

Unfortunately neither the BHPS nor Understanding Society have carried the political questions that you are interested in. We have questions about political interest, political efficacy and political support, and the BHPS in the past has carried attitudinal questions about views of government, but not in the depth that you need.

Have you tried looking at the British Election Study? This has a longitudinal element (but only for a couple of waves after each election) and it is likely to have the questions about redistribution etc that you are interested in.

There is some information about it here:

Documentation for the "British Election Study Six-Wave Panel Survey, 2005-2009" is available:

The British Election Study is not managed by us at ISER and it is not possible to merge the Election Study into the BHPS because the samples are different.

I hope that helps.

465 Immediate - BHPS data access help 01/19/2016 12:42 PM Actions

Dear Understanding Society User Support,

I have registered for the UK Data Service and acquired BHPS data for my dissertation. However, I have found it difficult to find data on household’s wealth, financial and housing assets and consumption. Looking at the summary table I noticed that waves 5,10 and 15 include information on wealth, assets and debt.

I would be very grateful if you would be able to help me find and access information on the following variables or others of a similar nature from at least 3 waves or more:

Household makeup / structure / type
Household income
Household wealth
Household financial assets
Household housing/property assets

Last notes

All household level questions are asked in the household questionnaire. You can search for these variables by looking at the useful online documentation:

Click on the MENU button on the top right corner and you will see different options of searching/finding these variables:

"Questionnaires and Survey Documents" - access the questionnaires, secifically look at the household questionnaires.
"Thesaurus" & "Index Terms" - search by key words and themes
"Record Types" - this will show you the list of all data files. If you click on any file you will find a list of all the variables within that file and a short description of that variable. Look at the files "whhresp" - ahhresp, bhhresp, chhresp etc. These include the variables corresponding to the questions in the household questionnaire. Also take a look at "windall" - it is an individual level file which includes some basic demographic information on every household member of responding households (including non-responding adults and children).

Best wishes,
On behalf of the team.

479 Urgent - data accesss support 01/19/2016 12:42 PM Actions

I am looking to download data in a format that I can ideally use in excel. If not, I am willing to download any software which will help me access the data. I am confused by the number of different data files available to download and am unsure which is best for me.

After downloading the British Household Panel Survey: Waves 1-18, 1991-2009 data file in tab format I have opened it in excel. However, it is in a format which seems impossible for me to understand.

I would be very grateful if you could provide exact instructions on what file I should download to access the variables I require as follows:

From at least 3 waves or more:

Household makeup / structure / type
Household income
Household wealth
Household financial assets
Household housing/property assets

Kind regards,


Last notes

What data management or statistical softwares do you use? If you use Stata or SPSS then you could download the data in those formats. If you use SAS you could download the data in one of these formats and then transform it into SAS readable formats using StatTransfer.

Household level variables are in the files whhresp, w is a for wave 1, b for wave 2 etc. Check the online documentation to see if these specific variables are in whhresp files and in which waves. Some variables are available in all waves while others only in some waves. (See response to issue #465 on how to search for this information)

Have you looked at the online training course material for BHPS? It may be a good place to start if you are not familiar with BHPS.

Hope this helps,
On behalf of the team

508 BHPS identifying households or individuals across waves 03/08/2016 04:04 PM Actions


I am looking to analyse a number of variables such as income, wealth and consumption across waves and to see how they change. From what I understand I cannot link households across waves. But to link individuals across waves I have to use the person identifier (PID). I am specifically looking at the data files whhresp and windresp from waves J-R. Within these I can find the variable for household identification number but I cannot find the variable for PID. Please could you help identify where I can find PID so that I can analyse this data for individuals across waves.


Last notes

Although issue 509 is about understanding society (ukhls) - the file structures for the two surveys are almost identical so the data management issues are the same.

781 Data on couple finances 07/03/2017 09:45 AM Actions

Hi- apologies for bothering you, but I am currently researching couple finances and have found the variables wealthassetsanddebt_ip3.svacsj (relating to savings) and wealth assetsanddebt_ip3.nvestsj (relating to investments) on this page: Firstly, I just wanted to check that these are the only questions on the survey that dealt with jointly/ solely held assets within couples? Secondly, I looked at the results for e.g. the first variable ( although the same is also applicable for the results for the second variable, which can be found at and was wondering, what are the ‘proxy’ results (apologies if that is an ignorant question)? If I were to wish to calculate each possible arrangement (i.e. sole, joint and both) as a percentage of all of the valid responses, not including where the question was inapplicable, would I just include sole, joint, and sole and joint, or do the ‘proxies’ need to be factored in as well? Thirdly, is this the most up-to-date data that you have on sole/joint savings and investments (am I right in thinking that it dates back to 2013)? Thanks so much

Last notes

Dear Charlotte,

Just checking whether there is anything more we can help you with on this? We are happy to discuss it further with you if you would like to.

Many thanks, Victoria.

868 wealthassetsanddebt 12/18/2017 02:37 PM Actions

Dear staff,

Do you have any information on when the next time data on assets and debt will be collected (the "wealthassetsanddebt" section)?

I would be grateful if you could provide any information on the timing of future collection of these variables.

Last notes

Dear Jia,

Please refer to the long term content plan, which you can download here:

This shows that the module you are interested in is part of wave 8, which is currently in field and this data will be released towards the end of next year.

You can also view the questionnaire by clicking the Wave 8 tab here:

Best wishes,
Stephanie Auty - Understanding Society User Support Officer

1291 Measurement error in savings data 08/22/2023 01:26 PM Actions


I am currently working with the savings data in USoc (save, saved, svamt etc.) and the savdocs variable shows that very few (less than 10%) actually have shown to the interviewer any documents on their savings. I was wondering if there is any systematic information on how the distributions given by the variables is compared to real data on savings or more focused wealth-assets surveys (such as WAS). And, secondly if anything has been done to deal with it.


Last notes

Dear Mihai,

As this question was only asked of those who have savings accounts, in Wave 8 13% of respondents providing a valid response checked relevant documents. As the variables you mention are not derived variables, they have not been edited and are as reported by the respondent.

For previous research using our data, you could search the website for relevant key words, or for discussion of analysis you could join our jiscmail list by emailing

Best wishes,

1308 Cross-sectional weights 0 values 10/13/2021 12:03 PM Actions

We are doing crossectional analysis combining all waves from USoc and the BHPS and include all household members (and all regions of the UK whenever become available). We are basically taking information from different waves, for example, wealth from the waves with wealth modules and labour market outcomes/earnings for when people are in their mid 20s. Currently we are using the crossectional weights from the last wave we observe people so we have constant weights even though we use information from various waves for each unique observation (so depending on which wave this are (a-f)xewght (waves 1-6 BHPS), (g-h)xewghte (waves 7-8 BHPS), (i-j)xewtsw1 (waves 9-10 BHPS), (k-..)xewtuk1 (waves 11 onwarfdd BHPS), a_psnenus_xw (wave 1 Usoc), (b-h)_psnenub_xw (wave 2 onwards of USoc)). We are then adjusting them to account for selection of our sample based on observable characteristics.
I have two specific questions:
1) Are the weights we are using as our base weight (that is, we are using these weights to create our own adjusted weights) the right ones for this kind of analysis? and
2) Why is it the case that some of these weights are 0? I understand why longitudinal weights would be 0, however cannot quite understand why any of the cross-sectional ones would be. It is especially confusing that specific individuals have non-zero cross-sectional weights for some waves and not for others.
Any help answering the above 2 questions would be much appreciated.
Many thanks and best,

Last notes


The solution that we have discussed would be correct in a simple situation (without pooling) where for example you use only people from waves 1 to 9, and everyone in your analysis have responded at wave 9. Because you want to pool information from across the waves the situation becomes slightly more complex. I have two questions to you:
1. Does your definition of your population depend on being observed in a later wave (and responded to the questionnaire for example)? In other words is it enough to be a child of a wealth parent to be in your analysis? Or do you have to also be employed, and maybe with a particular income (and thus having responded in a later wave) - I am asking here really about theoretical definition rather than how it is used in your analysis? It is important for weighting, because in the former situation you can start with an issue weight, in the latter you may need a weight that corrects for longitudinal nonresponse in a particular instrument.
2. Depending on the structure of your data it is likely you will need a separate probit model for each wave combination, or at least for each last wave of observation. So if you have a set of people last observed in wave 7 you will need a separate model for these, then for those observed in wave 8 etc. etc.

I appreciate this isn't straightforward and I am also not 100% clear about your data set up. It may be easier to talk to me via videochat - if you are interested please email to set up an appointment. Please refer to the issue num 1308.

Thank you,

1382 Where to find questionnaire modules? 10/13/2021 11:25 AM Actions

I am interested in using the Wealth, assets and debt module in my research. However I cannot find this data on the UK data service website. I have downloaded the "Understanding Society: Waves 1-9, 2009-2018 and Harmonised BHPS: Waves 1-18, 1991-2009" dataset, but I cannot find this data in there, nor do I know which other dataset to look in. Would be grateful for any help in locating this data. I am interested in the latest data available.

Last notes


Have you read our User Guide? Please take a look at that.

The easiest way to find out the variables you are looking for is using our variable search facility:
You can search via the Index Terms tab, or key word search by writing words in the search box. The search results will show a list of variables matching the word you typed and next to the variable name you will see which datafile it is in.

You can also search the questionnaires which are pdf files, so you can search across the whole document.

If you need any help with data management - how to put the files together, you can try our online Moodle training course.

Best wishes,
On behalf of Understanding Society User Support Forum.

1835 Number of dependent children (inside or outside of household) - variable availability 11/30/2023 12:45 PM Actions

Good afternoon,

By my reading, Understanding Society doesn't have a variable (derived or otherwise) on the number of dependents an individual has, whether inside or outside their own household - is this correct? Such a variable would capture:
- Biological children, adopted children and step children
- Who are ALSO dependents (eg aged under 16, claiming child benefit for, etc)
- ... Regardless of whether they live in the same household or not

The closest derived variable I've found for tis seems to be ndepchl_dv, which records the number of "own" children "in household." According to the Main Survey User Guide (p. 28), "own" dependent children is interpreted broadly biological, adopted or step; but this still restricts only to children in the household.

UKHLS has a wealth of other variables but none of them quite give the thing I'm looking for: eg:
- rach16_dv captures whether responsible for a child under 16, but is a binary variable and doesn't capture the number (and responsibility isn't the same thing as having a dependent);
- nchild only captures biological children (inside or outside of household), and not whether they're dependents;
- ncild_dv has the same issue re dependents, although this seems to capture non-biological children too;
- Ditto with lnaadopt re dependency

Based on the above, I believe ndepchl_dv is the closest to the variable I'm looking for. I'm assuming it may be possible to derive my own variable using information on the ages of other children, but this wouldn't necessarily equate to a dependent.

Any light you could shed on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in anticipation.

Best wishes,


Last notes

Hello Thomas,

For the moment UKHLS only have a derived variable for the number of own dependent children in the household. We don’t ask directly if a child is dependent, but we derived it using the definition of a dependent child from The Department for Work and Pension (DWP)'s. Therefore, the closest variables you can use are depchl_dv (whether dependent child: yes/no Qs) and ndepchl_dv (number of own dependent children).

You can see how depchl_dv and ndepchl_dv were created by going to our Data management syntax files at
Look for, Stata syntax file for deriving the variable depchl_dv at

Hope this helps.

Best wishes,
Understanding Society User Support Team

1967 Derived OECD equivalience scale variable which matches scale used to calculate relative poverty 11/30/2023 01:27 PM Actions

Good afternoon,

Apologies but I have a (hopefully quick) query. I notice that the OECD equivalence scale variable in Understanding Society (ieqmoecd_dv) does not use the same scale as that used for calculating relative poverty in Households Below Average Income (HBAI) (their scale is attached for ease of reference).[1] I am wondering if you have a derived variable which uses the HBAI equivalance scale, or if you could point me to some syntax (ideally using R) which would create one?

Just to provide some further background (and in case useful for other readers):

- I am trying to calculate the median household income in Understanding Society to create an indicator for individuals who live in households in relative poverty. Failing that, I'll use the median from another survey and simply use this as a reference point to create the indicator. To do either of these two things, I obviously need a measure of equivalised household income that matches with that used in the official definition of relative poverty.

- However, I've noticed that HBAI uses a different equivalised scale to the derived variable in Understanding Society, as the basis for their calculation of median incomes. Overall, their scale has the effect of creating a much larger median household income than you get in Understanding Society data, because the numbers are lower - with some 0.67 values (for single households) and with couples getting a "1", whereas the lowest value in ieqmoecd_dv is 1. So when net household income is divided by their scale, some incomes actually go up.

- Their scale also seems to match with the way "equivalised household income" is calculated elsewhere, at least in the ONS2 and IFS3. All their studies appear to show a much higher median equivalised income than I've managed to get from Understanding Society by dividing net household income before housing costs (fihhmnnet1_dv) by your equivalence scale (ieqmoecd_dv).

Based on my analysis the distribution of (weighted) net equivalised household incomes I've been able to create using Understanding Society is encouragingly very similar to that used in HBAI and elsewhere4, it is simply the actual values that are lower (and thus the median).

Best wishes,


[1] Sourced from p. 22 of this DWP Methodology Report,
[2] See
[4] Particularly in Figure 5 here,

Last notes

Dear Tom,

We follow the methodology and procedure proposed by the OECD for their OECD-modified scale: "This scale, first proposed by Haagenars et al. (1994), assigns a value of 1 to the household head, of 0.5 to each additional adult member and of 0.3 to each child." (see You can find the Stata syntax creating ieqmoecd_dv on our website: In case you need to match our data to other data sources using different equivalence scales, you could try to construct such an equivalence scale from scratch using other variables. For that task the file might be again useful as you will see the names and location of potentially useful variables.

I hope it helps.

Best wishes,
Piotr Marzec
UKHLS User Support

1992 household income 02/23/2024 02:22 PM Actions


I'm using Understanding Society together with Eu SILC and I was wondering whether w_fihhmnnet1_dv+ (*12 months) corresponds to the total disposable income in EUSILC (HY020) which is derived as follows:

Total disposable household income (HY020) can be computed as:
- the sum for all household members of gross personal income components
gross employee cash or near cash income (PY010G),
- company car (PY021G),
- gross cash benefits or losses from self-employment (including royalties) (PY050G),
- pensions received from individual private plans (other than those covered under ESSPROS) (PY080G),
- unemployment benefits (PY090G),
- old-age benefits (PY100G),
- survivor' benefits (PY110G),
- sickness benefits (PY120G),
- disability benefits (PY130G),
- education-related allowances (PY140G);
plus gross income components at household level
- income from rental of a property or land (HY040G),
- family/children related allowances (HY050G),
- social exclusion not elsewhere classified (HY060G),
- housing allowances (HY070G),
- regular inter-household cash transfers received (HY080G),
- interests, dividends, profit from capital investments in unincorporated business (HY090G),
- income received by people aged under 16 (HY110G));
- minus
- regular taxes on wealth (HY120G),
- regular inter-household cash transfer paid (HY130G),
- tax on income and social insurance contributions (HY140G).

Many thanks for the support!!!

Last notes


w_fihhmnnet1_dv+ is the net household monthly income. It is the sum of net monthly incomes from all household members (including proxies and within household non-respondents, see w_fimnnet_dv+). It can be decomposed into the six subcomponents: net labour income (w_fihhmnlabnet_dv+), miscellaneous income (w_fihhmnmisc_dv), private benefit income (w_fihhmnprben_dv), investment income (w_fihhmninv_dv), pension income (w_fihhmnpen_dv), and social benefit income (w_fihhmnsben_dv). The six subcomponents map to the six subcomponents of individual net income. For a more detailed discussion of these subcomponents please see the working paper "Understanding Society and its income data", section 5.2. INDIVIDUAL INCOME VARIABLES (
We leave the decision about the comparability of UKHLS variables with external measures to researchers.

I hope it helps.

Best wishes,
Piotr Marzec,
UKHLS User Support


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