The Next Steps (1990 cohort) is a unique research resource of key scientific and strategic importance.

Next Steps follows the lives of around 16,000 people born in 1989/90. The study began in 2004 when the young people were aged 13-14 and were interviewed annually until age 19-20. Interviews with cohort members' parents also took place in the first four waves of the survey. The study has collected information about young people’s education and employment, economic circumstances, family life, physical and emotional health and wellbeing, social participation and attitudes. Next Steps data has also been linked to linked data on the young people’s education and attainment from the National Pupil Database. It is the only national longitudinal study focusing on young people’s transitions to adulthood and their pathways through the teenage years.

The study was originally funded and managed by the Department for Education (DfE) until it transferred to the CLS in 2013. The most recent survey took place in 2015/16 when the cohort members were 25 years old. This was a 45-minute sequential mixed mode survey (involving web, telephone and face-to-face). A wide range of data linkage consents were collected in order to carry out linkage to administrative data on higher and further education. The age 25 survey data will provide crucial research evidence on their experiences of transitions into adult life as well as a range of key interlinked policy questions relating to higher education, employment, income and finances, housing and family formation, identity and participation, and health (including physical and mental health and risky behaviours).

Overall, the continuation of this cohort will provide multidisciplinary longitudinal survey data, and linked administrative data, for a large-scale and nationally representative probability sample of young adults.