The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has recently made its ‘derived datasets’ from the Living Costs and Food Survey (LCFS) and its predecessors, along with accompanying documentation, available for download (subject to safeguarding) via the UK Data Service.

The Living Costs and Food Survey (and its predecessors the Expenditure and Food Survey (EFS) and the Family Expenditure Survey (FES)) is one of the longest time series of data on spending and demographics. Since it began, the survey has undergone many changes and this makes creating long time series of consistent variables difficult and time consuming. The Family Expenditure Survey and Living Costs and Food Survey Derived Variables, 1968-2017 study contains a consistent time series of expenditure and demographic variables from the FES, the EFS and the LCFS which are the result of a long history of work carried out at the Institute for Fiscal Studies since the 1980s.

Since then, these files have been maintained and added to, resulting in a rich set of data which can be used in a wide range of research. The code to derive the variables was written by a number of people over the years and in parts is a complex set of interconnecting units which would be very difficult to make public in any useful way in its entirety. This documentation takes the main bits of code and simplifies it to try to show how the data have been derived.

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