This event will bring together leading academics from the UK and US to discuss the current state of play regarding data linkage and the likely future direction of developments in this area

The Administrative Data Research Centre Wales (ADRC-W), Census & Administrative data Longitudinal Studies Hub (CALLS-Hub) and the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD) wish to invite you to attend a one day international symposium on data linkage, ‘Big Data or Big Rubbish? The Contribution of Data Linkage to Social Science’.

The symposium will be held at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff on Tuesday 12th July from 11:00-16:45 and will then be followed by a drinks and networking reception. This event will bring together leading academics from the UK and US to discuss the current state of play regarding data linkage and the likely future direction of developments in this area. Please see below for full details of the event and speaker biographies.

We would be delighted if you could join us for the symposium. To confirm your attendance and secure your place at this limited availability event please visit or contact with details of your name and any special dietary requirements that you have.

Parking spaces at the venue are restricted to disabled badge-holders only. However, there are pay-and-display car parks adjacent to the college on either side with further pay-and-display parking available throughout the Civic Centre, opposite the main entrance.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at should you require further information about the event.

 Big Data or Big Rubbish? The Contribution of Data Linkage to Social Science


11.00 Registration
11.20 Welcome
Professor Ian Rees Jones, Cardiff University

Part 1: The UK Census Based Longitudinal Studies

11.30 Missing and re-appearing people in the ONS Longitudinal Study
Dr Oliver Duke-Williams, University College London
12.00 Examining Social Mobility with the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study
Dr Ian Shuttleworth, Queens University, Belfast
12.30 – 13.15 Lunch

Part 2: The Changing Face of Administrative Data Linkage in the UK

13.15 Data Linkage: Challenges and Opportunities
Professor Peter Elias, Warwick University
13.45 Developing Record Linkage within Cohort and Longitudinal Studies
Andy Boyd, Bristol University
14.15 SAIL Databank, ADRC-Wales and Beyond
Professor David Ford, Swansea University
14.45 – 15.00 Break

Part 3: Developing Administrative Data Linkage: a US Perspective

15.00 An Introduction to the American Opportunity Study
Professor Matthew Snipp, Stanford University
15.30 How the American Opportunity Study will Advance the Study of Mobility, Poverty, and Policy
Professor Michael Hout, New York University
16.00 Using Tax Data to Study Mobility in the U.S.
Professor David Grusky, Stanford University
16.30 Closing Remarks
Professor Ian Rees Jones
16.45 – 17.45 Drinks Reception

Speaker Biographies

Professor Ian Rees Jones, Cardiff University
Ian Rees Jones was appointed Professor of Sociological Research at Cardiff University in 2012 and is currently the Director of the Wales Institute for Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD). He is interested in theoretical and empirical work on social change and processes of social change. He is currently engaged in a series of research projects that addresses processes of social change and their impact on individuals, institutions, communities and civil society. He is also undertaking research specifically addressing ageing, later life and the experience of dementia. This includes work looking at class and health inequalities in later life, generational relations, social engagement and participation and changes in consumption patterns as people age. He is a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales and Fellow of the UK Academy of Social Sciences.

Dr Nicola Shelton, University College London
Nicola Shelton is a Reader in Population Heath and is the Head of the Health and Social Surveys Research Group at University College London. Her research is on health geography, health surveillance and the outcomes that can be measured through large and complex health data sets. She has particular interests in alcohol consumption and physical activity and older people’s health and wellbeing. She is the director of CeLSIUS, the Centre for Longitudinal Study Information and User Support of the ONS Longitudinal Study. The ONS LS is the longest running of the UK Longitudinal Studies, being established in the 1970s to provide better data on occupational mortality and fertility. It provides a complete set of census records for individuals born on 1 of 4 specific dates in the year, linked between successive censuses and combined with data on vital events.

Dr Ian Shuttleworth, Queens University, Belfast
A graduate of the University of Leicester and Trinity College Dublin, Ian Shuttleworth has worked in Northern Ireland since 1990. He was appointed to a lectureship in Human Geography in QUB in 1993 and since 2004 has been a senior lecturer. His current research interests include spatial mobility in the labour market, migration, residential segregation, and census analysis. He is currently Director of the NILS-RSU, the research support unit for the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study.

Professor Peter Elias, Warwick University
Peter Elias is a Professor at the Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick where he has worked across a wide variety of research areas over the last 30 years. These have ranged from the evaluation of large-scale government programmes, statistical monitoring of the status of particular groups in the labour market, the study of occupational change and the relationship between further and higher education, vocational training and labour market outcomes. From October 2004 he has acted as the Strategic Advisor for Data Resources to the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). He is Deputy Chair of the Administrative Data Research Board of the UK Statistics Authority. He was awarded a CBE for services to social science in the Queen’s birthday honours list in June 2011.

Andy Boyd, Bristol University
Andy Boyd is the Data Linkage and Information Security Manager within the School and Social and Community Medicine at Bristol University. Andy specializes in using linked routine records to augment cohort study databanks – particularly in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) birth cohort study and the CLOSER (Cohort & Longitudinal Studies Enhancement Resources) consortium. CLOSER brings together partners from 8 UK Longitudinal Studies and aims to maximise their use, value and impact through enhanced resources, training and the sharing of expertise in longitudinal methodology. Andy conducts methodological research designed to maximize the effectiveness of cohort studies and to facilitate the secure use of data through the development of effective governance frameworks, technological infrastructure and the use of statistical techniques to minimize disclosure risk.

Professor David Ford, Swansea University
David Ford is Professor of Health Informatics and leads the Health Informatics Group at College of Medicine in Swansea University. David is Director of the Administrative Data Research Centre (ADRC) Wales and is Deputy Director of the Centre for Improvement in Population Health through E-records Research (CIPHER), part of the Farr Institute of Health Informatics Research. He is also University Director of NHS Wales Informatics Research Laboratories, created through a collaboration between the College of Medicine, Swansea University and NHS Wales Informatics Service, the national programme for NHS IT for Wales. David is joint lead of the Health Information Research Unit for Wales (HIRU), which develops new ways of harnessing the potential of routinely collected information collected in health and other settings. HIRU’s main product is the SAIL Databank, an internationally recognised data linkage resource formed from a wide variety of routinely collected data from across Wales.

Professor David Grusky, Stanford University
David B. Grusky is Barbara Kimball Browning Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, Director of the Stanford Centre on Poverty and Inequality, and co-editor of Pathways Magazine. His research addresses the changing structure of late-industrial inequality and addresses such topics as (a) the role of rent-seeking and market failure in explaining the take-off in income inequality, (b) the amount of economic and social mobility in the U.S. and other high-inequality countries (with a particular focus on the Great Gatsby hypothesis that opportunities for social mobility are declining), (c) the role of essentialism in explaining the persistence of extreme gender inequality, (d) the forces behind recent changes in the amount of face-to-face and online cross-class contact, and (e) the putative decline of big social classes. He is also involved in projects to improve the country’s infrastructure for monitoring poverty, inequality, and mobility by exploiting administrative and other forms of big data more aggressively.

Professor Mike Hout, New York University
Michael Hout is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Advanced Social Science Research (CASSR). Mike Hout uses demographic methods to study social change in inequality, religion, and politics. His current work uses the General Social Survey panel to study Americans’ changing perceptions of class, religion, and their place in society. In 2006, Mike and Claude Fischer published Century of Difference, a book on twentieth-century social and cultural trends in the United States. The Truth about Conservative Christians with Andrew Greeley (University of Chicago Press, 2006) explored the social and political context of the religious right. A couple of illustrative papers include “How Class Works: Subjective Aspects of Class Since the 1970s” in a book edited by Annette Lareau and Dalton Conley (Russell Sage Foundation 2008), “The Demographic Imperative in Religious Change” (Am. J. of Soc., Sept. 2001) and “How 4 Million Irish Immigrants Came to be 40 Million Irish Americans” (with Josh Goldstein, Am. Soc. Rev., April 1994). Previous books are: Following in Father’s Footsteps: Social Mobility in Ireland (Harvard Univ. Press 1989) and, with five Berkeley colleagues, Inequality by Design (Princeton Univ. Press, 1996). Mike Hout’s honors include election to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 1997, the National Academy of Sciences in 2003, and the American Philosophical Society in 2006. Mike’s education includes a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh in history and sociology and masters and doctorate from Indiana University in sociology. Before coming to NYU in 2013, he taught at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1985 to 2013, and before that he taught at the University of Arizona from 1976 to 1984.

Professor C. Matthew Snipp, Stanford University
Matthew Snipp is the Burnet C. and Mildred Finley Wohlford Professor of Humanities and Sciences in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University. He is also the Director for the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences Secure Data Center and formerly directed Stanford’s Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE). His current research and writing deals with the methodology of racial measurement, changes in the social and economic well-being of American ethnic minorities, and American Indian education. For nearly ten years, he served as an appointed member of the Census Bureau’s Racial and Ethnic Advisory Committee. He also has been involved with several advisory working groups evaluating the 2000 census, three National Academy of Science panels focused on the 2010 and 2020 censuses. He also has served as a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the Centers for Disease Control and the National Center for Health Statistics. He is currently serving on the National Institute of Child Health and Developments Population Science Subcommittee.