Guest Editorial: Generation X enters middle age

Alice Sullivan, Matt Brown, David Bann


The 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) is an ongoing longitudinal study of people born in the United Kingdom in a particular week in 1970. It is the third study in Britain’s world-renowned series of birth cohort studies, following the 1946 and 1958 birth cohorts. Compared to the generations born in 1946 and 1958, the 1970 cohort were subject to an era of economic and labour market transformation and turbulence and experienced growing socio-economic inequalities. They can be seen as entering middle age with a degree of reluctance, as child-bearing has been delayed to later ages compared to previous generations.  The notion that this generation is more troubled than the previous generation gains some support from the higher levels of mental distress reported by the 1970 cohort members at age 42. This special issue asks how this generation is faring in mid-life, and addresses a diverse range of themes including social mobility, obesity and religion. This paper provides an introduction to the 1970 cohort and the social context in which they have lived, and an overview of the remaining papers in the special issue.


BCS70; Generation X; middle age

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