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The original aims of this project in 1997 were: to investigate the processes which generate variations in health in early old age, specifically cumulative differential exposure to health damaging physical environments and their interaction with health and to identify the respective contributions of childhood circumstances, including health, of adult events and behaviours and of current circumstances to variations in health in early old age. The 2000 project followed participants who were originally interviewed in 1997. The study sought to develop a new, theoretically informed measure of quality of life in early old age, examining whether and to what extent people experience a ‘Third Age’ of independence and satisfaction during the post-retirement phase of life, and what factors may influence this experience. The 2004 project followed participants who were interviewed in both 1997 and 2000.

Main Topics/Subject Category
Basic demographic data (includes parental social class, year of birth, site of original survey, number of siblings, year of marriage, social class of spouse, number of children. period of residence, house type, number of rooms, tenure, number of occupants, heating, damp, proximity to factories (pre-1960), proximity to A-roads (post-1960), area type). occupation (period of employment, social class, presence and type of fumes and dusts, was the work arduous, demand-control score). Current living conditions and health data (car ownership, number of state and occupational pensions, social class, smoking status, long-standing and limiting illness, medication, blood pressure, spirometry, height, weight, leg length. Total hazard exposure scores are also included)
England, Scotland, access to public services, adults, age, air pollution, anthropometric data, attitudes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, care of the elderly, cars, central heating, children, chronic illness, clinical tests and measurements, clubs, computers, death, debilitative illness, diabetes, digestive system disorders, diseases, domestic appliances, early retirement, educational background, elderly, electric heating, employers, employment, employment history, endocrine disorders, everyday life, families, family life, father's employment history, father's occupation, father's occupational status, fathers, friends, full-time employment, fumes, further education, gas-fired heating, gender, grandchildren, heads of household, health, heart diseases, height (physiology), hernias, holidays, home ownership, household head's occupation, households, houses, housing, housing conditions, housing tenure, ill health, industrial areas, industrial injuries, industrial plants, industrial pollution, internet use, job description, job seeker's allowance, landlords, living conditions, location, marital history
Identifier Variables
Economic/Subject Categories
Area of Health System
Social care, Public health
Data Available
Risk behaviours, Socio-economic, Demographic
Data collecting organization (s)
Imperial College London
Data Type
Survey (cross-sectional)
Coverage (date of field work)
1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
Unit of Analysis

Men and women who, as children, had participated in Sir John Boyd Orr's survey of diet and health between 1937 and 1939. The sample was drawn from subjects of the original survey who had been aged five years or over at the time of the original survey, and had been physically examined then. Sample size 1997: 294 cases 2000:260 cases 2004:207 cases.

ESDS Access and Preservation, UK Data Archive
Conditions of Access
Free registration access
Blane D. et al. Inequalities in quality of life in early old age. Growing Older Programme, 2002
.Blane, D. (2005) ‘Cohort profile: the Boyd Orr lifegrid sub-sample - medical sociology study of life course influences on early old age’. International Journal of Epidemiology 34(4), pp.750-754.
.Hildon, Z. (2008) ‘Understanding adversity and resilience at older ages’, Sociology of Health and Illness, 40(5)