Policy Press

Seven years in the lives of British families

Evidence on the dynamics of social change from the British Household Panel Survey

Edited by Richard Berthoud and Jonathan Gershuny


Nov 22, 2000

Page count

256 pages




216 x 138 mm


Policy Press
Seven years in the lives of British families

'The family' is a subject of enormous academic, political and popular interest. It is a central feature of most people's lives, the framework within which other relationships, activities and events take place. This unique study provides important new insights into the dynamics of Britain's social and economic life - in family structures and relationships; in employment and household incomes; in housing, health and political affiliations.

Most previous research has been limited to measuring an individual or family's position only at the time of the interview. This book presents a clearer picture by following the important events in people's lives, such as starting work, getting married, or falling into poverty. It reviews existing findings and presents new analyses of data from the British Household Panel Survey. The same 10,000 adults (in 5,000 households) have been interviewed every year between 1991 and 1997.

Seven years in the lives of British families is a collaboration between members of the University of Essex's Institute for Social and Economic Research. Each of the authors is an expert in the field, but the work has been presented in an easy-to-read style to make these important research findings widely accessible. The book will be read by policy makers and all with an interest in the dynamics of modern society, as well as by academic sociologists, economists and demographers.

"This book successfully achieves its objectives of bringing the findings of the British Househld survey to the attention of as wide an audience as possible. Its easily accessible style makes it absorbing reading for the layman and specialist alike, whilst its succinct argument and wide-ranging data and references make it an essential source for all those with an interest in the dynamics of modern society" Social Policy Focus vol 1# 1

"... a key text for data on the relationship between households and social change in the last decades of the twentieth century." Work, Employment & Society

"... an empirically rich and readable book... a valuable contribution to empirical debates about social change in Britain and an effective showcase for the research potential of the BHPS in particular and longitudinal data in general." European Sociological Review

"Household panel surveys have become indispensable tools for understanding the dynamics of social processes and crafting effective policies for addresing social problems. The planning, execution and analyses of the British Household Panel Survey data have all been exemplary. Berthoud, Gershuny and their colleagues are to be congratulated on their excellent overview of results from this important study." Greg Duncan, Professor of Education and Social Policy and Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University, USA

"At last we have the British equivalent of 'Years of poverty, years of plenty' which changed forever US perceptions of the modern family and its place in American society and helped to re-direct the advance of North American social science."

Our understanding of the causes and consequences of social change has been greatly enhanced by studies which follow the same individuals over a period of years. The British Household Panel (BHPS) is the first time that a large sample of British adults have been studies so intensively and for so long. Over 10,000 people have provided a yearly update on all aspects of their lives - education, employment, cohabitation, marriage, divorce, children, health, domestic work, income, political views - and Seven Years in the Lives of British Families brings this material together for the first time in one volume. It is a fascinating read, not just mapping changes in individual lives, but also providing important new insights into the meaning and impact of these. It is written by a team of academics whose work is at the forefront of longitudinal data analysis and provides a lucid and compelling overview of the wealth of material that the BHPS holds. It is of theoretical, empirical and policy interest and will be indispensable to anyone with an interest in understanding the dynamics of British society today.


Contents: Introduction: the dynamics of social change Richard Berthoud; Patterns of household and family formation John Ermisch and Marco Francesconi; Couples, work and money Heather Laurie and Jonathan Gershuny; Work, non-work, jobs and job mobility Mark Taylor; Dynamics of household incomes Stephen P Jenkins; Housing, location and residential mobility Nick Buck; A measure of changing health Richard Berthoud; Political values: a family matter? Malcolm Brynin; Seven years in the lives of British families Richard Berthoud and Jonathan Gershuny.

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