Marshall CE, Buxton J. Geography and geographical analysis using the ONS Longitudinal Study. In: International Population Geographies Conference. 15 – 16 June; Liverpool: 2006.

The ONS Longitudinal Study (LS) is a set of individual-level records, linking census data and vital events of people living in England & Wales. It was started using the 1971 Census in the 1970’s and is a 1% sample of people born on four birth dates. It is a continuous sample, with people being added at each census, together with intercensal births and immigrations. With the addition of data from the 2001 Census, the dataset now contains information from 4 censuses and 30 years of follow-up. There were around 540,000 individuals present in the dataset at 2001. The LS also contains information on other household members at each census, and household and family type information.
There is huge potential for geographical studies using the LS. There are 10 different time points in the LS where information on address is available. It is possible to look at migration and mobility between these time points, carry out analysis using urban and rural indicators or other area classifications and perform regional analysis. If you have aggregate-level data or ecological data, this can be added to the LS dataset for your analysis. You can also create new geographies like travel-to-work-areas.
In this presentation we will describe some of the ways the geographical information contained in the ONS LS can be used and review some of the work that has been undertaken using the LS. To date geographical information from the ONS LS has been used in over 150 publications. These include: studies of the effects of deprivation; migration; rural populations; geographical differences in health and mortality; and analyses of specific areas like Cornwall.
As well as reviewing the strengths and potential of the ONS LS, we will also consider problems that arise and possible ways of overcoming some of them. These difficulties include changes in classifications, definitions and boundaries over time and disclosure 24 control issues which mean that it is not possible to carry out analysis at low levels of geography or to receive small cell counts in results.
Finally, the presentation will include brief information about the support available from the Centre for Longitudinal Study Information and User Support (CeLSIUS) for academic researchers wanting to use ONS LS data. CeLSIUS, based at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, provides extensive web based information, (www.celsius.lshtm.ac.uk), including a new online training module on “Geography in the LS” to be launched in 2006, and Celsius support officers will create extracts from the dataset and run analyses for users.