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Earnings and income

About the research

Full project title: Harmonising earnings and income

This project comprised the harmonisation of income and earnings data across a number of the CLOSER studies, to allow comparisons within the same study over time and comparisons between different studies. Different surveys have adopted very different approaches to measuring individual or household income, making it difficult to compare different generations. This dataset (which is still in the process of finalisation) can provide evidence about intergenerational income persistence, and can also help show how social mobility is changing over time.

The project was initially lead by Chris Belfield (while based at the Institute of Fiscal Studies), before being taken over by Bozena Wielgoszewska at the UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies.

The initial project team used the harmonised measures to assess the relationship between net family income in two generations across two cohort studies. They also examined how the returns (or benefits) from education can change across a person’s lifetime, and vary across cohorts. The data has to date also been used to look at associations between childhood language use and economic outcomes.

Chris Belfield

Bozena Wielgoszewska

Research lead

Chris Belfield (formerly Institute of Fiscal Studies) and Bozena Wielgoszewska (UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies)

Studies used

Research outputs

  • A dataset containing harmonised variables of earnings and income from four cohort studies. Not yet available – sign up to CLOSER’s email newsletters to find out when they are published.
  • Teaching datasets and materials. Not yet available – sign up to CLOSER’s email newsletters to find out when they are published.

Press releases and blogs


  • Belfield C, Crawford C, Greaves E, Gregg P, Macmillan L. Intergenerational income persistence within families. Available from: [Accessed 9th February 2017].
  • Belfield C, van der Erve L. The impact of higher education on the living standards of female graduates. IFS Working Paper W18/25. Available from:

Read about other CLOSER data harmonisation projects.