An assessment of the national representativeness of new mothers and women of childbearing age in Understanding Society

Publication type

Understanding Society Working Paper Series

Series Number



Understanding Society Working Paper Series


Publication date

March 11, 2020


The aims of this report are threefold. The first is to document the representativeness of Understanding Society subgroups relevant for pregnancy and child development; and show how the representativenesshas evolved over time. It does this by comparing estimates from Understanding Society to those from a high-quality cross-sectional survey –the Family Resources Survey (FRS). Our comparisons are cross-sectional in nature. This is relevant as many uses of Understanding Society are cross-sectional. Moreover, longitudinal measures such as transitions, are calculated as the difference between two cross-sections, and so it is important to get the latter right. Second, we document the available Understanding Society sample sizes of relevant subgroups. These are women of childbearing age and women with newborns, which we further subset according to measures of disadvantage. Third, we demonstrate the unique value of Understanding Society for research in this area. We report on the persistent poverty rates of our subgroups of women, something which has not been previously done for the UK, and is not possible without longitudinal data.


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