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ELSA Logo[2]

Principal Investigator: Professor Andrew Steptoe

 Start date: 2002

Age at recruitment: 50-100

Sample size at recruitment: 12,099

Estimated current sample size: 10,317

The objective of the ELSA study is to collect longitudinal multidisciplinary data from a representative sample of the English population aged 50 and older. ELSA began in 2002 and recruited over 12,000 people. The study collects both objective and subjective data relating to health and disability, biological markers of disease, economic circumstance, social participation, networks and well-being. ELSA aims to measure outcomes across a wide range of domains and to provide high-quality multidisciplinary data that can shed light on the causes and consequences of outcomes of interest.

The survey data are designed to be used for the investigation of a broad set of topics relevant to understanding the ageing process. These include:

  • health trajectories, disability and healthy life expectancy
  • the determinants of economic position in older age
  • the links between economic position, physical health, cognition and mental health
  • the nature and timing of retirement and post-retirement labour market activity
  • household and family structure, social networks and social supports
  • patterns, determinants and consequences of social, civic and cultural participation
  • predictors of well-being.


Contact details:

Dept. of Epidemiology & Public Health
University College London
1-19 Torrington Place

02076 791656

Funders (core support):

UK Government Consortium (Department for Communities and Local Government, Department for Transport, Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs, Office for National Statistics, Department of Health, Office for National Statistics), ESRC, National Institute on Aging (NIH)

Gender: MF

Variables collected:

Anthropometric: height; weight; waist circumference; blood pressure.

Physical: cardiovascular; respiratory; hearing; vision.

Cognitive: mental health; cognitive function.

Lifestyle: smoking, physical activity; dietary habits; alcohol.

Socio-Economic: education; occupation; employment.

Biological Samples: blood, saliva, other (buccal cell placenta, brain, muscle, teeth, hair).

Acknowledgement statement: ELSA is funded by the National Institute on Ageing in the United States (grants 2RO1AG7644-01A1 and 2RO1AG017644) and a consortium of UK government departments coordinated by the Economic and Social Research Council. The data are made available through the UK Data Archive. ELSA was developed by a team of researchers based at University College London, the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the National Centre for Social Research. Ethical approval for the study was obtained from the Berkshire Research Ethics Committee who have given their approval for this study to take place. We are grateful to all the respondents who took part in the study, and the whole ELSA team, which includes interviewers, nurses, clerical workers, research scientists and managers.