Accessing ELSA data

Researchers can download ELSA data from all waves, including wave 0 (HSE), from the UK Data Service.

If you are in the UK and your organisation is part of the UK Access Management Federation (UKAMF), you can access UKDS via your institution’s account. Find out if your institution is a member.

If you are not in the UK, or your organisation is not on the list of federation members, you can request a username.


Main ELSA dataset

Data for waves 1-9 (up to 2018/2019) are available to download from the UK Data Service.

The majority of ELSA data are archived as safeguarded data on UKDS, and can be downloaded, ordered or analysed online by registering and accepting an End User Licence. Some safeguarded data may have additional conditions attached and are available under Special Licence.

Some ELSA data are controlled which means that they are accessible only through the UKDS SecureLab due to the sensitive nature of the data. The UKDS SecureLab is a remote access safe environment that enables researchers to access and undertake analyses without the need to download the data.

To access controlled data via SecureLab, you will need to complete a detailed project application (after you have registered), which will be scrutinised by the UKDS specialist Data Access Services team as well as the NatCen Data Release Panel on behalf of ELSA. Users must demonstrate public benefit resulting from the use of the data. Users also need to become an Accredited Researcher, which involves attending Safe Researcher training, and the user’s organisation will need to enter into a legal agreement with UKDS, through which they accept responsibility for the user’s data access.

Main ELSA data available on UKDS

For Waves 1–7, the UK Data Service contains a single ELSA data file containing the majority of variables relating to the ELSA interviewer visit.

For Waves 8 and 9, the data related to the main interview is archived under a number of separate files, reflecting the relative sensitivity or disclosure risk of the variables:

Safeguarded data (including Special Licence data)

  • A dataset available for holders of the UKDS End User Licence (EUL) contains the majority of the interview data, with sensitive or disclosive variables removed
  • A Primary Special Licence (SL) dataset, available for users under the UKDS Special Licence conditions, contains all the variables in the EUL dataset, as well as additional more sensitive/disclosive variable

Controlled (Secure) data:

  • Sexual self-completion variables
  • State pension age variables (year and age in years reached state pension age)
  • Geographic variables (LA, IMD quintiles, population density quintiles, urban/rural)
  • A Primary Secure Access dataset, available using the UKDS SecureLab, contains all the variables in the Primary SL dataset and additional highly disclosive variables.

Further separate Secure Access datasets containing:

  • State pension age variables (exact date and age reached state pension age)
  • Geographic variables (lower level Census geographic variables)​

Data for ELSA respondents collected during HSE (referred to as “Wave 0” data) and ELSA Waves 1-9 can be used for longitudinal analysis. All these data are available from the UK Data Service.

Other ELSA datasets available at the UKDS

In addition to the main ELSA datasets for Waves 0–9, there are a number of additional ELSA data files available (under EUL) via the UKDS:

  • Nurse visit datasets (Waves 2, 4, 6, 8 and 9) – see ELSA nurse visit user guide for more details. Please take note of the weighting used for waves 8 and 9.
  • Life History interview dataset (Wave 3)
  • ‘End of Life’ interview datasets for Waves 2, 3, 4 and 6
  • Pension grid: data and documentation of data originating in the main interview pensions loop is available in a separate ‘pensions grid’ file for all waves (by IFS)
  • IFS (non-financial) derived variables and documentation produced for all waves by IFS
  • Financial Derived Variables and documentation produced for all waves (by IFS)
  • Pension wealth derived variables for Waves 1–5 (by IFS)
  • Mortgage dataset (Wave 2) and Mortgage grid dataset (Wave 3)
  • Ryff self-completion dataset (Wave 2)
  • ELSA Index File (Waves 0–5) including key status variables for each wave such as fieldwork issue status and outcome codes, mortality status.
  • Harmonised ELSA dataset and documentation ( Gateway to Global Aging Data, produced by the Program on Global Aging, Health & Policy, University of Southern California, with funding from the National Institute on Aging R01 AG030153).

Geographic variables

If you are interested in accessing geography data, these datasets are available for all waves for request via UKDS under Special Licence and Secure Access agreements.

Genetics data

Full details on the various genetic data products available and how to access them can be found at:

Access to non-archived variables

Any other variables not included in the archived datasets may be requested via the NatCen Data Release Panel. Please contact the ELSA Data Manager at for more details.

Dementia sub study (HCAP)

HCAP data can be downloaded from UKDS here:

You can find the accompanying documentation on the study documentation page (under HCAP)

Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) Data

HES data is currently only available to the ELSA team, we do not currently have an onward sharing agreement with NHS Digital. We hope to have an onward sharing agreement in place in the future, please check this page for any updates.