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Thematic Partnerships


The ADRN was originally established to negotiate research access to administrative data on a bespoke basis for individual ADRN approved research projects.

To provide greater value for money and enable Government departments to provide data more effectively and efficiently for research, the ADRN are now working with partner organisations across Government departments, research organisations and academia to create and curate a number of substantial, complex, persistent, and stable datasets, each of which will support the work of a theme of social and economic research.  Over time, these datasets will grow to satisfy as many research and statistical inquiries as possible.    

The way forward

The ADRN has put together four Partnerships to deliver data that supports research in four Themes.  Each Partnership is made up of the relevant government departments, What Works Centres, and research organisations.  An ADRN Director leads every partnership to ensure the research community is represented, and is chaired by a person with a significant public profile.  The role of the Partnership is to identify the key objectives of its data Theme (i.e., important social and economic issues that can benefit from evidence based research), then agree a Data Design Proposal to commission the construction of relevant a dataset.  By agreeing to the objectives and to the Design Proposal, government departments and other partners are committing to the supply, linking, documenting, and functional anonymisation of their data, to create a new research data source. 

Partnership decision making and direction

The Partners work together to consider research needs (based on research interest shown to the ADRN and the ESRC priority research areas) and data availability under the data theme for which they are responsible. All Partnership group decisions are made by consensus which is vital to providing surety of data provision.  It is the role of the Chair to bring the Partnership to consensus decisions.

Thematic Partnerships

The Partnerships are focusing on developing datasets around the following four data themes:

The Growing Old Partnership focuses on developing a linked dataset with emphasis on enabling research around income, consumption and wealth of 50-59 year olds and impact on different sectors of the future 60+ population.

Scope and purpose

The Growing Old Theme examines the social and economic issues for individuals, and for society and the economy, as people transition through the period leading up to and beyond the state pension age.  In particular, the Partnership identified the need to explore the individual, family and household circumstances, and the choices made within those circumstances, that result in difference in financial security and control around and beyond state pension age.  Research of this sort will be supported, upon approval, with data from relevant administrative sources linked to 2011 Census persons in households.  There is great interest in when individuals make financial decisions about their retirement, why different decisions are made in similar, or in different, social, economic, family and household circumstances, and what the effects of those different decisions are in the longer term.


To construct and maintain dataset of all those aged 50 - 59 with their household members of any age.  The dataset will be curated as an administrative cohort, enabling examination of income, consumption and wealth that may translate to income estimates and other forecasts of financial security for different sectors of the future 60+ population.

Such a dataset would become a building block for future enhancement, with other administrative records track the social and economic paths of the 50+ population, being added in accordance with the direction the Theme Partners’ understanding of research and policy evidence needs.

The process we follow from agreement of objective through to use

There are two main approaches to the use of administrative data to enhance research and to fill evidence gaps for themes.

  1. we will seek to enhance existing longitudinal and cohort studies by assisting them in the acquisition of administrative data relating to the members of those studies, and
  2. we will create new study datasets, and curate them to provide a data resource that can be the foundation of new scientific research and policy evidence inquiries.

Work currently underway

Initial scoping and partnership development

Partnership Meetings

The first meeting was held on Friday 6th October 2017. Invited Partner organisations sent a representative to the meeting.  The agenda asked Partners for their views on the key social and economic issues faced by those aged 50+, what insights are needed to better understand those issues, and therefore what administrative data should be prepared and used to support the necessary scientific research and new evidence to underpin those insights.


The meeting was chaired by Catherine Foot, Director, What Works Centre for Ageing Better

Theme leader

This theme is led by Dr Dermot O'Reilly, Director of the Administrative Data Research Centre in Northern Ireland (ADRC-NI). He is based at the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast, specialises in Public Health and Social Epidemiology and has carried out extensive research into health inequalities. His interests focus on the effective use of routine data collections to further our understanding of disease and social causes and how this affects society.

Partner organisations

Department for Work and Pensions, Office for National Statistics, HM Revenue and Custom, Institute for Fiscal Studies, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, The Nuffield Foundation, What Works Centre for Wellbeing, UK Data Archive, The Turing Institute, The Pensions Regulator, ESRC, CLOSER.

Correspondence sent out to Partners

Letter of invitation to join the Partnership

Follow-up letter for the first Objective

Next meeting(s)

Monday 22nd January 2018, London

Page last updated: 20/12/2017