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The LS is a unique source of data for studying living arrangements in later life because it includes people living in communal establishments as well as in private households. It also offers Census data on every member of the LS member's household, which many longitudinal datasets do not. The LS holds information on living arrangements spanning four censuses over 30 years. You can find publications on living arrangements using the LS on our publications database.

Research has shown declines over the past few decades in the proportion of older people living in intergenerational households and increases in the proportions living alone or only with a spouse (Glaser et al, 2003). During the 1980s increasing numbers of older people entered communal establishments such as residential and nursing homes, however policy changes may have reversed this trend (Grundy & Jitlal, 2007).

Our tables show changes in living arrangements between 1991 and 2001 for those aged 65+ living in private households in 1991. This includes moves into communal establishments. Private households are defined as a person living alone, or a group of people (not necessarily related) who live at the same address with common housekeeping, including sharing either a living room or at least one meal a day.

Further analysis could examine these changes by age group (comparing ‘younger’ to ‘oldest’ old) or by socio-economic status using for example, housing tenure in 1991. Obviously, this dataset includes only those still alive in 2001. Only 46.6% of the population aged 65+ and living in a private household in 1991 survived until 2001. The LS includes data on the death of the LS member, and so further research could be carried out to examine differences in mortality by living arrangement in 1991.