UK LS Roadshows – Cardiff presentations now available

On Friday 18th March we held the largest of our UK LS Roadshows to date and we hope the audience enjoyed the day as much as we did.

The first part of the Roadshow showcased research examples from all three LSs – the Scottish Longitudinal Study, Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study and ONS LS, and you can download slides here:

Pathways between socioeconomic disadvantage and growth in the Scottish Longitudinal Study, 1991-2001 (PDF 4MB)

Dr Richard Silverwood, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Ethnic differences in intragenerational social mobility between 1971 and 2011

Dr Saffron Karlsen, University of Bristol

Are Informal Caregivers in Northern Ireland more likely to suffer from Anxiety and Depression? A Northern Ireland Longitudinal (NILS) Data Linkage-Study

Dr Stefanie Doebler, Queen’s University Belfast

On Nov 10th, our UK LS Roadshow moved to Bristol as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science.

The first part of our Roadshow showcased some of the different types of research that the ONS LS for England & Wales has been used for, and you can download the slides here:

Family size and educational attainment in England and Wales

Prof Tak Wing Chan, University of Warwick

Overall and Cause-specific Mortality differences by Partnership status in 21st Century England and Wales (PDF 645 kB)

Sebastian Franke, University of Liverpool

Ethnic differences in intragenerational social mobility between 1971 and 2011

Dr Saffron Karlsen, University of Bristol

SLS launch

On Tuesday 4th November 2014, the SLS-DSU (supported by National Records of Scotland and CALLS Hub), held a launch event to announce the linkage of 2011 Census data to the Scottish Longitudinal Study.

The event was held at Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh, and around 70 people attended to hear about the new data, as well as examples of how it could be used. The welcome was given by Prof Andrew Morris, Scottish Government Chief Scientist.

UPDATE: You can now download full audio + slide presentations here.


On Thursday 6th March 2014 CALLS Hub organised a very successful launch event to mark the linkage of 2011 Census data to the UK LSs on behalf of the LSs, ONS, NISRA, NRS and ESRC.  This was held at Church House, Westminster, and over the day a total of 120 people attended.

A special morning event was introduced by Prof Paul Boyle (CEO of ESRC), and the linkage officially announced by Sir Andrew Dilnot (Chair, UK Statistics Authority).  We were honoured to hear how highly regarded the LSs are held.

You can see some of the tweets from the day in our Storify roundup, and speaker slides and handouts from the day can be downloaded below.

Morning session

Afternoon session

Adam Dennett, UCL

As we head into a new year, we draw closer to the end of the SYLLS project. Starting in April 2013, the project has been run as a joint venture between the three Longitudinal Studies Research Support Units (RSUs) and the CALLS-Hub, with the aim of generating Synthetic Longitudinal data which are not subject to the same access restrictions as the real Census-based longitudinal microdata for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The project has been split between teams based at CeLSIUS at UCL and the SLS-DSU in Edinburgh / St Andrews. The London team have been tasked with generating the ‘Synthetic Spine’ dataset. This is a partial replication of the full set of individuals contained in the 1991 LSs of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, who then were also enumerated in the 2001 Census. The replication is partial as we have not attempted to synthesise every variable contained in the LSs for every individual, rather we have focused on a selection of some of the most frequently requested variables in previous LS-based research projects (age, sex, ethnicity, health, births, deaths, geography).

In order to generate the synthetic spine dataset, we have used publicly available data from the 1991 Samples of Anonymised records (SARs) as our base. The SARs are similar to the LSs in that they are microdata records and so are prefect for this task. A bespoke microsimulation model has been built by Belinda Wu to generate the synthetic spine from the SARs data. We began with England and Wales: A baseline population for the 1991 synthetic LS was generated by constraining aggregated (local authority) area level from the SARs to similar area level data from the LS using the tried-and-tested iterative proportional fitting technique – individuals were then sampled from this new data set to build our synthetic LS population. Once the 1991 baseline population is created, transitional probabilities are calculated from the LS to age our simulated individuals on 10 years and give them the same characteristics that we would see for those LS members enumerated in both the 1991 and 2001 Censuses.

The England and Wales LS Synthetic Spine is now complete; we are currently working on finishing a similar dataset for the SLS and will soon be tackling the Northern Ireland LS. Northern Ireland is a slightly different case as the 1991 to 2001 link has not yet been completed, but as the NILS sample is around a quarter of the resident population, the aggregate distributions are likely to be very similar to the distributions for the full Census. We will therefore use the 1991 Census distributions to generate our 1991 baseline and calculate the transitions to 2001 using our microsimulation software as soon as the link project is complete.

While the London team have been beavering away on the synthetic spine, the team based in Scotland have been working feverishly on the other half of the synthetic project. The second half of the project is approaching the generation of synthetic data from a different angle entirely: rather than attempting to create a large, general use dataset, here we are tailoring synthetic data to the individual needs of the user. Very soon, if you formulate a project and submit a request to access data from any of the national LSs, you will be asked if you would like to also receive a bespoke, fully synthetic version of your specific data request to work with as you wish on your own computer – something which is not possible with the real data.

The bespoke data are generated using a new R package called ‘synthpop’ developed by Beata Nowok and Gillian Raab in the Scotland team. Synthpop is a multiple synthesis package which allows user support officers to quickly generate fully synthetic versions of the data requested by the user. The data are generated through a series of models which estimate the values of one variable from the values of all others in the dataset sequentially. One of the benefits of this approach is that the resulting data are statistically equivalent to the real data, despite containing no real values.

We are now in the process of testing the synthpop package, with the Edinburgh team coming to visit London and the ONS LS virtual microdata lab to train the CeLSIUS user support officers and test the package on different data. A similar visit to Belfast and the NILS-RSU ‘safe-setting’ is scheduled shortly after that.

On the 6th of March we will be very excited to launch both Synthetic data products at the UK LS 2011 Census Linkage Launch event, and we hope to be able to provide user access to both the synthetic spine and bespoke synthetic tabulations very shortly afterwards.

Kevin Ralston, SLS-DSU

This was my first time at the British Society of Population Studies (BSPS) conference. This is somewhat of an indictment considering my PhD examined the timing of first birth in Scotland. However, it was not a conference that was on the radar of my research group at the University of Stirling, which was more focussed on the field of social stratification, as a result I had overlooked the BSPS, although I was lucky enough to attend the BSPS postgraduate conference, popfest 2010, when it was hosted at St Andrews. Therefore, it was with some enthusiasm that I looked forward to this year’s conference hosted at the University of Swansea.

A little time has passed since the conference now and my view would be that the event was well organised and provided a very high standard of scientific research. As I would have expected something is provided for everyone with an interest population studies. Sessions on fertility, mortality, methodology, migration, ageing and historical demography, to point to just some of the themes of interest, mean that for anyone in the UK, and beyond, whose work is related to the subject areas covered by the BSPS have a strong incentive to generate a lasting connection with the Society of Population Studies. One delegate who I talked to was particularly complementary of the poster session which was organised around drinks and food. In contrast to other conferences where posters might be peripheral to the event, he felt this really brought the posters into the heart of the meeting. This is a nice touch as posters take as much time and energy to produce as other forms of dissemination and provide valuable insight into what research is going on.

Happily the Longitudinal Studies Centre Scotland (LSCS) were well represented across the sessions, particularly by Dr Beata Nowok who presented two talks and a poster as well as chairing a session. Indeed the Tuesday morning parallel sessions saw a triple clash for our Director, Dr Chris Dibben, with three talks involving LSCS researchers based on work involving Dr Lee Williamson, Dr Tom Clemens, Professor Gillian Raab, Dr Zhiqiang Feng and me all competing for attention. Also, the first CALLS Hub training event took place introducing the three Longitudinal Studies to attendees. Therefore the BSPS continues to be a particularly successful conference from the point of view of the LSCS.

The University of Swansea campus provided a practical backdrop to the meeting and its situation on picturesque Swansea bay gave delegates the chance to catch some fresh seaside air on a beach that was two minutes’ walk away, and the town of Mumbles at one end of the bay, with Port Talbot at the other. Even the weather played its part with sunshine throughout. All in it was a very enjoyable conference.

Link to the conference website:—Swansea/2013-Conference—Swansea.aspx

Link to the programme:—Swansea/Complete-programme-with-timetable.pdf

Kev Ralston

We recommend clicking the button in the bottom right corner to view full screen. You can also view the Prezi at


Recent News

Upcoming Events

Sorry, there are currently no upcoming Events.

Latest Tweets