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Closer - The home of longitudinal research

About the CLOSER contextual database

One of the strengths of cohort studies is that they provide detailed information about a specific sample of individuals all born in the same year.

This means that as those individuals progress through the life course they will broadly share the same historical and policy context. For example those born in early 1958 will all have been eleven years old in July 1969 when a man first landed on the moon, and were the first cohort to have been subject to the raising of the school leaving age from fifteen to sixteen in 1973.

Cross-cohort comparisons can therefore allow examination of how a specific historical context might influence individuals’ experiences, or may mediate the impact of early life experiences on later life outcomes.

The aim of the CLOSER contextual database is to provide researchers with detailed information about the historical and policy backdrop to cohort members’ lives. It is hoped that this will encourage and facilitate more cross-cohort research. It will also enable researchers to be more explicit about the circumstances and conditions that may be shaping and influencing individuals’ behaviours and life transitions. The CLOSER contextual database is also intended to provide a valuable resource for those carrying out international comparative work using UK longitudinal data as it highlights the specificities of the UK context.

The Generations & Gender Programme also has an extensive contextual database, but this is more focused on comparisons between European countries over a relatively limited period of time.

The CLOSER contextual database provides time series data on some key indicators of social change. Wherever possible we provide data from 1930 to 2016. However in some cases data is only available for more recent decades.