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English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA)

About the cohort

Start date: 2002
Age at recruitment: 50-100
Sample size at recruitment: 12,099
Estimated current sample size: 10,317

The primary objective of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) is to collect longitudinal multidisciplinary data from a representative sample of the English population aged 50 and older. It 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.

There have been six sweeps of data collection 2002-03, 2004-05, 2006-07, 2008-09, 2010-11 and a further sweep is underway.

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.

ELSA is part of the Dementias Platform UK (DPUK), a multi-million pound public-private partnership to accelerate progress in dementias research. 

Core funders

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)



Principal Investigator: Professor Andrew Steptoe


Nina Rogers
ELSA Project Manager
Dept. of Epidemiology & Public Health 
University College London 
1-19 Torrington Place 


Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 1656

Page last updated: 4 Mar 2015


  • Gender: Male, Female
  • Sample size: 10,000-19,999
  • Age: 40 to 59, 60 to 100
  • Anthropometric: Height, Weight, Waist circumference, Blood pressure
  • Physical: Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Musculoskeletal, Hearing and vision, Reproductive
  • Psychological: Mental health, Cognitive function
  • Lifestyle: Smoking, Physical activity, Dietary habits, Alcohol
  • Socio-economic: Occupation, Finances, Family circumstances, Housing, Education, Ethnic group, Marital status, Social support
  • Biological samples: Blood, Saliva, Other