Quantitative data sources
We have scoped the quantitative datasets that enable us to trace volunteering from the early 1980s to the present day, identifying a complementary combination of survey data consisting of two repeated cross-sectional (GLS and BSA) and one panel data set (BHPS/US).
The BHPS/US provides longitudinal insight on quantitative estimates of formal and informal civic participation from 1996, with repeat measures until 2012 (second Wave of US), as well as information on attitudes to welfare provision. We will focus on the under-researched volunteering estimates within the BHPS/US data, rather than on the well-researched associational membership estimates (Kamerade 2011; Warde et al, 2003).
The GLS complements the longitudinal quantitative data by providing repeated cross-sectional estimates of formal volunteering from the 1980’s onwards, covering the period prior to the BHPS. The BSA provides fewer estimates of volunteering, but contributes information on individuals’ attitudes towards state responsibility for various public services at regular intervals across the time frame.
British Household Panel Survey/Understanding Society
The British household panel survey was conducted over 18 waves from 1991. This general purpose survey collects longitudinal information on over 16 year olds, carried out by ISER at the University of Essex. The overall aim is to understand social and economic change in Britain.
Providing information at the household and individual level using a multi-stage stratified random sample that follows both households and individuals.
The survey continues into wave 19 within the Understanding society survey (wave 2, 2010-2011), through the ISER. There is an extended delay between waves 18 and 19 due to this change, ranging from 16 to 30 instead of the usual 12 months.
Areas of focus
The core questionnaire covers a broad range of social science and policy interests including:
- Household composition
- Housing conditions
- Residential mobility
- Education and training
- Health and the usage of health services
- Labour market behaviour
- Socio-economic values
- Income from employment, benefits and pensions
British Household Panel Survey is held at the UK Data Archive under SN 5151. Further information and access to the data is available at: http://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=5151&type=Data%20catalogue
British Household Panel Survey questionnaires and data structure information is available through ISER at: https://www.iser.essex.ac.uk/bhps
Understanding Society is held at the UK Data Archive under SN 6614 at: http://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=6614&type=Data%20catalogue
Further information is available at: https://www.understandingsociety.ac.uk/
General Health Survey/General Lifestyle Survey
The General Health Survey (GHS) is a repeated, cross-sectional conducted by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) from 1971 to 2008. From which point it was renamed the General Lifestyle Survey (GLS) following becoming integrated within the integrated household survey (IHS), continuous running yearly.
A relatively consistent design of this general purpose survey was held between 1997 and 1998, following which it was re-designed and re-launched in 2000.
The survey is conducted both at the household and individual level for people over the age of 16, using a multi-stage stratified random sampling strategy.
Area of focus
- Household composition
- Socio-economic status
- Economic activity
- Health consultations
- Chronic and debilitative illness
- Smoking behaviour
- Household and individual demographics
General Health Survey is held at the UK Data Archive under 5664. Further information and access to the data is available at: http://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/series/?sn=200019
General Lifestyle Survey is held at the UK Data Archive under SN 7000. Further information and access to the data is available at:
General Lifestyle Survey questionnaires and data structure information is available through ISER at:
British Social Attitudes Survey
The British Social Attitudes Survey has been conducted annually from 1983. Collecting cross-sectional data from people over the age 18, using a multi-stage stratified random sample.
The overall aim was to measure changing attitudes across Britain, exploring continuity and change over time. This government survey is large-scale are focuses on party politics.
Areas of focus
- Behavioural patterns
- Attitudes towards party politics
The British Social Attitudes Survey is held at the UK Data Archive under SN 7237. Further information and access to the data is available at: