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Next Steps

Next Steps is a longitudinal cohort study, following a nationally representative group of nearly 16,000 people born in 1989-90 who attended secondary school in England.

The study began in 2004 when cohort members were 14 years old when it was known as the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE). It was originally managed by the Department for Education, with sweeps every year for the first seven years, from ages 14 to 20. It was designed to study young people’s experiences through secondary school, and on to further education, training or the workplace.

Next Steps is now based at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) and has become a multidisciplinary study providing invaluable insights into the different aspects of the lives of millennials. The most recent full sweep took place in 2015 when cohort members were 25 years old. Almost 8,000 cohort members took part.

In 2020, cohort members took part in a special online COVID-19 survey, along with participants in four other longitudinal studies, to gather information about the effects of the pandemic on their lives.

An Age 31 Sweep, in 2021, is currently being planned.

Next Steps data have been collected through mixed mode (web, telephone and face to face) and cover many topics, including:

  • education,
  • employment and economic circumstances,
  • social participation and identity,
  • mental health and wellbeing,
  • physical health and health behaviours,
  • family life, and use of technology.

Individual-level administrative data have been linked to cohort members’ study records, supplementing the information collected through the study sweeps. So far this includes education data from schools and further education. Future plans include linking further and higher education, health, economic, and criminal records data to the study data.

Evidence from Next Steps has had a major influence on national education policy and has informed debate on a wide range of other important social issues, including the effects of zero hours contracts and bullying.

Sample design

The Next Steps sample consists of around 16,000 people in England born in 1989-90. The target population for the study was young people who were in Year 9 in English state and independent schools and pupil referral units in February 2004. Cohort members were born between 1 September 1989 and 31 August 1990.

Sample boosts

The study includes over-samples of cohort members from deprived schools and from minority ethnic groups, allowing researchers to examine patterns within and between these subgroups.

Linked data

Information from the National Pupil Database and from Individualised Learner Records has been linked to the Next Steps data. These linked education data include GCSE results and A level results as well as other related information.

Management and funding

Next Steps is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and is managed by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies.

Accessing the data

The majority of Next Steps survey data can be accessed by bona fide researchers through the UK Data Service at the University of Essex. Anyone wishing to access the data will need to register with the UK Data Service before downloading. Some datasets are only available via Special Licence, or via the UK Data Service Secure Lab. Access arrangements comply with ESRC Research Data Policy.

Research metadata, including basic frequencies, is available using NESSTAR at the UK Data Service. The CLS website provides copies of the questionnaires and documentation used in the study.

CLOSER Discovery

Variables from Next Steps are available to explore in CLOSER Discovery – our innovative research tool that enables researchers to search, explore and assess data from multiple UK longitudinal population studies.

Users can search through rich metadata, and filter by study, topic and life stage in order to find the relevant data for their investigations.

Start exploring Next Steps variable metadata in CLOSER Discovery


Introducing the 1958, 1970, 1989-90 & 2000-01 birth cohorts from a biomedical science perspective

Webinar: Introduction to Next Steps

Next Steps Age 25 briefing papers

Findings from the Next Steps Age 25 survey are available on the CLS website.

Related content

Visit the study website