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LSYPE : Longitudinal Study of Young People in England

What is the LSYPE?

The Longitudinal Study of Young People in England is a large scale panel survey following thousands of young people across the country.

We first started to interview them when they were in Year 9. Interviews take place every year (usually in the spring and summer) to find out about their experiences over the past academic year, to see what they have been doing and if any of their plans for the future have changed.

What is LSYPE used for?

LSYPE was set up to :

  • gather evidence about the transitions young people make from secondary and tertiary education or training to economic roles in early adulthood
  • enhance the ability to monitor and evaluate the effects of existing policy and provide a strong information base for future policy development
  • contextualise the implementation of new policies in terms of young people’s current lives

Both internal analysts and external academics have made extensive use of the LSYPE so far to support their work in informing and evaluating policies.

Who runs the LSYPE?

The LSYPE is directly managed by the Longitudinal Studies of Young People Team in the Department of Education (DfE). However, due to the wide ranging issues raised in the survey, some other Government Departments (including BIS and DWP) are also involved in the project and participate in the Steering Group.

All work on the LSYPE is contracted out. The current contractors are a consortium led by BMRB and including GfK NOP. In past waves Ipsos MORI has also been involved.

DfE will continue to directly manage the work until the end of Wave 7 (winter 2010) subject to funding. Following Wave 7, discussions are currently underway to hand it over the ESRC to run. It is envisaged that although no Government Department will then be managing the project, it will still be funded by a number of Government Departments.

What are the benefits/limitations of LSYPE?


It covers wide range of social policy due to the broad focused (and ever expanding) content. We’ve developed an excellent rapport with our respondents allowing us to ask a wide variety of questions, some of which could be considered sensitive or challenging. The next few waves of data will be key to completing the picture of transitions between education and labour market outcomes and will give an unprecedented dataset to enable analysis of which early factors influence later outcomes.

It is longitudinal in nature which allows us to start to understand how the lives of young people change over time as well as what is causing/influencing or interacting with these changes. In addition, the ability to link to other data sources, particularly about schooling, work and benefits allows us to focus survey questions on the more ‘interesting’ topics for respondents, adding much more breadth to the survey data.


However, the LSYPE is just a quantitative survey. The sample was not been chosen to test a specific policy intervention or pilot scheme but rather to be representative of a cohort of young people (those born in 1989/90 and at school in England) - and therefore it is very difficult to establish why a certain outcome is occurring simply using this data in isolation, although we should be able to determine what are the likely causes/influencing factors of an effect.

This survey uses an annual process which can be slow and frustrating for some. The size of the sample and complex structure (several interviews with different household members per wave) means that there is a time delay between interviews and the data being delivered, being cleaned and becoming available for analysis. Current time lags are around 8 months although with recent software developments we are working closely with contractors to see how this can be reduced.

Who is interviewed in LSYPE?

In the first wave, around 15,500 young people were interviewed as part of the survey and we return to the existing survey respondents every year for interviews .

For further information on the sampling and weighting etc please see the more detailed User Guide

Respondents were selected to be representative of young people in England. In addition, sample boosts have taken place for some sub-groups (i.e. some ethnic minority groups) to ensure large enough numbers for analysis in key groups. They were selected from a target population of those in Year 9 (or equivalent) in February 2004 who were born between 01/09/89 and 31/8/90. The sample did not include those solely educated at home, boarders and those solely in England for purposes of education.

The study has achieved impressive response rates, with 74% response at the first wave and 85-95% for all other waves. This reinforces the positive feedback we have had from sample members through the study website. Through the usual attrition experienced by all surveys (e.g. people moving house and leaving no forwarding addresses, people no longer wanting to be involved etc), the current sample size is still well over 10,000.

In addition to the young person themselves, in the first four waves of the survey parents or guardians were also interviewed to ensure we could get as full a picture as possible as to the household the young person was growing up in. From wave 5, when the young person was 17/18 we have just interviewed the young people only.

Information about respondents

How are respondents surveyed?

A range of methods and multiple household interviews have been used to interview respondents.

In the first four waves at least one parent/guardian was interviewed where possible along with the young person (in separate interviews) and all interviews took place face-to-face (usually in respondent homes).

In the fifth wave interviews only took place with the young person. However, a range of modes was introduced including an on-line survey, a telephone survey and face-to-face survey. Over a third of respondents  (36%) completed the on-line questionnaire, half (50%) had a telephone interview and around one in seven (14%) were interviewed face-to-face.

For how long will respondents be followed?

It is envisaged that respondents will be interviewed every year until they are aged 25 (a total of 13 interviews or waves). This should provide a wealth of information about where these young people end up and the routes they took to get there.

Do respondents have to take part?

No. Participation in LSYPE is entirely voluntary and respondents can drop out at any time. As a thank you for taking part, respondents receive a small amount of High Street Vouchers when they are asked to participate.

What questions are asked in the survey?

A wide range of questions have been asked over the past five waves and many more topics will be covered in future waves.

Unsurprisingly, past waves have focused on the educational experiences of young people (as it is primarily funded by DfE and these will be the experiences most prominent to young people of their age) but other issues have also been covered including their views on local areas, community cohesion, participation in social activities, risky-behaviours, crime/anti-social behaviours, health and their aspirations for the future.

By including the parents/guardians in the survey we have ensured that there’s data relating to the parents’ involvement in the young person’s education, as well as the socioeconomic and demographic details of their household.

Main topics :

  • the young person's family background
  • parental socio-economic status
  • personal characteristics
  • attitudes, experiences and behaviours
  • attainment in education
  • parental employment
  • income and family environment as well as local deprivation
  • the school(s) the young person attends/has attended

In order to deal with the large number of variables in the study, the dataset has been split into more manageable subsets, comprising main survey data files (containing one record per case) and hierarchical data files (more than one record per case). The files can be linked.


For the first four waves data were collected by means of face to face interviews (the questionnaires include some self-completion sections).

Validation of the data collected and enhancement of the study has been undertaken by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen).

The data have been supplemented by linkage to administrative records such as the National Pupil Database (NPD) and other data sources such as geo-demographic data from the 2001 Census. Due to the potentially disclosive nature of some of these variables, the linked administrative data have not been included on the LSYPE files deposited at the UKDA (UK Data Archive). Researchers requiring access to the linked administrative files should contact the DfE directly. To do so, please see the contact details below. In the future it is planned - for approved users - to provide secure access to these data directly through iLSYPE.

How has the data been used?

LSYPE data has been, and remains to be well used by academics who have accessed and analysed the data to support their work. We are currently contacting all users of the data to find out how it has been used and to see if we can access copies of papers and published articles using LSYPE. We aiming to ensure that this sort of information is widely accessible so that researchers will be aware of what others have done.

Perhaps more importantly however, the LYSPE is an important study for government and can be used to effectively contribute to analysis of policies.

The Department published a major new National Statistics publication in June 2008 reporting on some of the results so far and covering many key policy areas such as NEETs, positive activities, aspirations and attitudes and their effect on attainment and many more, with a follow up publication in 2009. There are also numerous research projects either finished, planned or underway that use the data coming out of the studies.

We have also set up a framework agreement (one of the first in DfE) for the LSYPE and a small research programme so that we are able to produce more timely research and analysis for policy colleagues.

Technical information


Dates of Fieldwork: Wave One: 30 March - 19 October 2004; Wave Two: 18 April - 18 September 2005; Wave Three: 21 April - 28 September 2006; Wave Four: 12 June - 14 October 2007.
Country: England
Spatial Units: Government Office Regions (GORs)
Observation Units: Individuals; Families/households
Kind of Data: Numeric data; Individual (micro) level

Universe Sampled

Location of Units of Observation: National
Population: Young people in Year 9 (or equivalent) in schools in England in February 2004 (born between 1 September 1989 and 31 August 1990) and their parents or carers. See User Guide for further details.


Time Dimensions: Longitudinal/panel/cohort. Data from Waves One to Four are included at present.
Sampling Procedures: Multi-stage stratified random sample. See User Guide for further details.
Number of Units: 15,770 households at Wave One, 13,539 households at Wave Two, 12,439 households at Wave Three, and 11,449 households (plus 352 households in ethnic boost sample) at Wave Four.
Method of Data Collection: Face-to-face interview; Self-completion
Weighting: Weighting used.See User Guide for further details.

Useful links

Still want to know more…?

If you have a query which hasn’t been answered by any of the above, please contact: