Why are BCS70 study members so special?

Life for your generation is different to the lives of your parents and grandparents, and to the lives of younger generations. So we are following your lives to understand and learn from your special generation.

The 1970s, when you were born, was a decade of economic instability and growing inequality. While unemployment was low in the early 1970s, the decade saw growing industrial and social unrest. Strike action culminated in the ‘winter of discontent’ in 1978-79, and the Troubles began to unfold in Northern Ireland.

More than a third of you lived in council housing at the age of 5. In 1979, Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s first female Prime Minister. A global economic recession overshadowed much of the 1980s. Several public industries were privatised, and much of the state’s social housing stock was sold off under the ‘right to buy’. Today, home ownership remains lower among your generation than for those born in 1946 and 1958.

There were significant reforms to education when you were young. The vast majority of you attended comprehensive schools, following the slow decline in grammar schools and secondary moderns throughout the 1970s. By age 42, a quarter of you had a university degree. While this may seem low by contemporary standards, it is significantly higher than amongst those born in 1946 and 1958. Less than one in five of those born in 1958 and fewer than one in ten born in 1946 obtained a degree. The greatest advances were made by women – 25 per cent of women born in 1970 have university degrees, compared to just 6 per cent of women born in 1946.

But while educational opportunities improved for your generation, general health has worsened. Convenience foods became more common in the 1980s, as did car ownership. People became less and less physically active. By the age of 16, those born in 1970 were significantly more overweight than generations before them. You also drank more during your teenage years, but were less likely to smoke.

These are just of the few of the differences between your generation and the lives of older and younger generations. We want to know how your experiences have impacted on your life so far and how they will affect the rest of your life.

By taking part in BCS70, you are acting as the voice of your generation. You are one of around 17,000 people who have taken part over the years. Each and every one of you brings something unique to the study, and together, you represent the diversity of the BCS70 generation. That’s why it’s so important that people from all different sorts of backgrounds continue to take part in the study. Without you, we don’t hear the whole story and the picture is not complete.

To learn more about why the study was started, visit the ‘History of the study’ page.