Support #1078

Marital change

Added by Lydia Palumbo over 1 year ago. Updated 9 months ago.

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Dear User Support Forum,

sorry for the second raised issue in one day, but I am revising my work so far.
I am currently checking how marital status change in BHPS and UKHLS is captured.
I am interested in the transition from the status of single (either never married
or previously married) to marriage or cohabitation (living with a partner w/o being married).

From what I understand, the pre-computed indicator in both the surveys, only gets
the change in the legal marital status and, thus, the only transition that can be
identified is the following:


If I want to control for the presence of cohabitation spells between the waves in t
and t+1, I can rely only on UKHLS because BHPS does not have a variable controlling
for that. Is it right?

Therefore, if I want to compute marital change from single to marriage or cohabitation
with an harmonized variable across the two waves, I can only compute the change in the
de-facto marital status from one wave to the other. Is it correct?

Thank you and best regards,


#1 Updated by Stephanie Auty over 1 year ago

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Many thanks for your enquiry. The Understanding Society team is looking into it and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Best wishes,
Stephanie Auty - Understanding Society User Support Officer

#2 Updated by Stephanie Auty over 1 year ago

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Dear Lydia,

Although a harmonised marital status variable has not yet been created, you can use the variables bw_mastat and w_mastat_dv, which both contain the categories you are interested in, to create your own. You will then be able to calculate changes in this new variable between waves.

Best wishes,

#3 Updated by Lydia Palumbo over 1 year ago

Thank you for your answer.

So, this means that, in both the surveys, I am allowed to know only the changes between t and t+1 and I cannot know the presence of different marital statuses throughout the year (for example, single in t --> cohabiter in t+0.5 --> married in t+1). I can only access this information through UKHLS for what concerns cohabitation spells (b_lmcbm1,...).


#4 Updated by Stephanie Auty over 1 year ago

Dear Lydia,

I see what you are asking for now. We do have that information available as follows:

For BHPS, there is a consolidated marital, cohabitation and fertility history dataset available here:

For Understanding Society, there will be a consolidated partnership history dataset released through UKDS at the end of this month. In the meantime, the historical data is collected in the partnership history module ( when the respondent joins the survey, and the changes between each interview are collected in the annual event history module ( and the data from both is available for each wave in w_indresp.

Best wishes,

#5 Updated by Stephanie Auty over 1 year ago

  • % Done changed from 70 to 80

Dear Lydia,

Just to add that the data for the historical marriage and cohabitation data in Wave 1 (for GPS & EMBS) and in Wave 6 (for IEMBS) are available in w_marriage and w_cohab files.

Best wishes,

#6 Updated by Lydia Palumbo over 1 year ago

Dear Stephanie,

thank you very much for your answer.

I am aware of the consolidated histories. I am just wondering whether
they do not suffer from interval censoring for what concerns outcomes of non-partnership.

Let me just make an example:

Let me suppose that an interviewee belongs to BHPS and that we are considering a period of analysis that goes beyond wave 2 (when the cohabitation history is asked) and that the marital status of the individual in the panel looks like this:

t=3 never married, not in a partnership
t=4 legally married

I guess that I cannot identify if, between t=3 and t=4, there was a pre-marital cohabitation.

I know that it is possible from the third wave of USoc, but I am not sure in BHPS.

Thank you very much for your patience.

#7 Updated by Stephanie Auty over 1 year ago

  • Assignee changed from Lydia Palumbo to Stephanie Auty

#8 Updated by Stephanie Auty over 1 year ago

Dear Lydia,

We have checked the BHPS questionnaires and it looks like you are correct. The marital status was only recorded at the time of the interview, and changes between interviews were not recorded. Additionally, the date of legal marital status change was asked, but the start date of a cohabitation was not, so must have been imputed by the researcher who created these consolidated histories.

Best wishes,

#9 Updated by Lydia Palumbo over 1 year ago

Dear Stephanie,

I would like to understand if the consolidated partnership history for Understanding Society has been released or not. According to the previous posts, it should have already been released.
If yes, could you please tell me the number of the dataset? I cannot find it through the website of the UK Data Archive.

Thank you and best,

#10 Updated by Stephanie Auty over 1 year ago

Dear Lydia,

We have had some issues and the release of this data has been delayed. It should now be released in January.

Best wishes,

#11 Updated by Ashley Burdett about 1 year ago

Dear Stephanie,

Apologies for stepping in, but I thought this was the most appropriate place to ask this question. I was wondering if the USoc consolidated partnership history dataset been released yet?

Many thanks,


#12 Updated by Lewis Anderson about 1 year ago

Dear Stephanie,

Sorry to jump in with the same question as above - but are you able to give any indication of when the UKHLS consolidated partnership histories might be released?

Kind regards,

#13 Updated by Stephanie Auty about 1 year ago

Dear Lydia, Ashley and Lewis,

We apologise for the delay in releasing this data. In April we should be able to give you an updated release date.

Best wishes,

#14 Updated by Ashley Burdett 10 months ago

Dear Stephanie,

I was wondering if you are able to provide us with an updated release date for the UKHLS consolidated partnership histories?
Apologies if I have missed the information elsewhere on the Understanding Society website.

Many thanks,


#15 Updated by Alita Nandi 10 months ago

  • Assignee deleted (Stephanie Auty)

Hi Ashley,

We are in the process of depositing the data. There are some technical difficulties at the UKDS which is causing delays. We are hoping to deposit the data by early next week. We don’t have a date for when the UKDS will be able to process the data and release it, however, we hope it will be within the next few weeks. We will let you know as soon as this happens.

Best wishes,

#16 Updated by Alita Nandi 9 months ago

  • Assignee set to Alita Nandi

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