fonds ATK - Records of the Rowntree-Lavers Follow Up Surveys

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Records of the Rowntree-Lavers Follow Up Surveys


  • 1904-c 1984 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.86 cubic metres

44 boxes

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Anthony Barnes Atkinson was born on 4 September 1944 in Caerleon, South Wales. Educated at Cranbrook School, he first studied mathematics at Churchill College, Cambridge, before switching to economics. He was a Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge from 1967 to 1971, when he was appointed Professor of Economics at the University of Essex. His work focused on the on the empirical measurement and analysis of inequality. In 1969 he published his first book ‘Poverty in Britain and the Reform of Social Security’, followed in 1970 by his paper ‘On the Measurement of Inequality’ which introduced his influential index of income inequality.

In 1976 Atkinson took up the post of Professor of Political Economy at University College, London, and in 1980 he was appointed Tooke Professor of Economic Science and Statistics at the London School of Economics. He remained there until 1992, chairing the Suntory Toyota International Centre for Economics and Related Disciplines there between 1981 and 1988.

In the 1970s, and in collaboration with Christopher Trinder and Alan Maynard, he carried out a study of intergenerational income mobility in Britain based on a follow up survey of families interviewed by Benjamin Seebohm Rowntree in his 1950 investigation of poverty in York (published as ‘Poverty and the Welfare State’ in 1951).

In 1974-1975 Atkinson, Trinder and Maynard carried out a pilot study which aimed to assess the feasibility of tracing ‘Rowntree children’, that is the children of the parents interviewed in 1950, using a sample of 201 households randomly drawn from the 1,363 original surveys surviving. A draft questionnaire was created and interviews with the traced ‘Rowntree children’ were carried out by Trinder in 1975, then the only full time member of staff working on the project.

On the basis of the pilot study, the team launched a full scale follow up study in late 1975, using the surviving documentation from 1950 to trace all the children of the respondents of the original survey, conduct new interviews with them, and compare their data with that of their parents; using computer analysis to create a dataset showing individual earnings and household income across two generations. The main investigation, including questionnaires and interviews, was completed by the end of 1978.

Initial funding for the pilot study and full project was provided by the DHSS/SSRC Contract for Research on Transmitted Deprivation between January 1974 and December 1978. Further funding to develop the findings of the full study was provided by the Nuffield Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust (now the Joseph Rowntree Foundation). Additional staff appointed to the project during this time included Judy Corlyon, Stephen Jenkins (at the University of York) and Holly Sutherland (at University College, London).

Evidence from the follow up study was submitted to the Royal Commission on the Distribution of Income and Wealth in 1978-1979, of which Professor Atkinson was a member. The full results of the study were summarised in an unpublished report, ‘From Parents to Children: Living Standards in Two Generations’ in August 1981. This was edited and published as part of the SSRC/DHSS Studies in Deprivation and Disadvantage series in 1983 as ‘Parents and Children: Incomes in Two Generations’. The study was also the subject of an article in the Bulletin of Economic Research in 1981, ‘Poverty in York: a re-analysis of Rowntree’s 1950 survey’.

Professor Atkinson went on to publish more than forty books over the course of his career, with his last book, ‘Inequality: What Can Be Done?’ appearing in 2015. He served as Professor of Political Economy at the University of Cambridge between 1992 and 1994 and as Warden of Nuffield College, Oxford, between 1994 and 2005. He was knighted in 2000 and is remembered as the founder of modern scholarship on the distribution of income and wealth and the historical study of inequality.

Professor Atkinson died on 1 January 2017.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The initial and largest deposit was made by Sir Tony Atkinson in July 2015. In February 2017 a further four boxes of related material was transferred to the Borthwick Institute by the London School of Economics. In April 2017 Professor Alan Maynard deposited a box of residual documentation and in December 2018 Professor Holly Sutherland of the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex gifted two sets of photocopied 1950s Rowntree survey schedules with 1970s annotations.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Records of the Rowntree-Lavers Follow Up Survey carried out by A. B. Atkinson, A. Maynard, C. G. Trinder and others in the 1970s, comprising project management and funding records, 1973-1981; secondary research materials, 1904-1983; records of the initial pilot study, 1972-1976; records of the main survey, including fieldwork, 1950-1979, computation and analysis, 1971-1984, and research output, [1970s]-1984; and records of the 1984 follow up study, c 1984.


Further accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

This archive was created by four separate but related deposits. The first and largest comprising fifteen bankers’ boxes of material relating to the Rowntree-Lavers follow up study deposited by Sir Tony Atkinson in July 2015. This was followed by a further four boxes of complementary material which had originated with Atkinson but which had been in the custody of the London School of Economics, where he worked, until its transfer here in February 2017. In April 2017 Professor Alan Maynard deposited a further box of ‘residual documentation’ relating to the same study, and in December 2018 Professor Holly Sutherland gifted two sets of copied and annotated 1950 survey schedules also used in the follow up study. Although these papers had been held separately since the 1980s, the decision was taken to reunite them in order to more accurately reflect their original provenance and use as the records of the Rowntree Lavers Follow Up Survey worked on jointly by Atkinson, Maynard, Sutherland and others.

The differing provenance of sections of the archive have been identified in the catalogue. Where no accession note is made, it may be assumed that the records originated with the main July 2015 deposit. The Atkinson LSE material and the material from Professors Maynard and Sutherland have been clearly labelled as such.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including data protection laws. 24 hours' notice is required to access photographic material.

Conditions governing reproduction

A reprographics service is available to researchers subject to the access restrictions outlined above. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute for Archives' terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Language of material

  • English

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Publication note

A. B. Atkinson and C. G. Trinder, ‘Evidence on Inter-generational Income Mobility: Preliminary Results from a Pilot Study’, 1975.

A. B. Atkinson and C. G. Trinder, ‘Inter-generational Income Mobility’, in Selected Evidence Submitted to the Royal Commission for Report No. 1, HMSO 1976.

A. B. Atkinson, A. K. Maynard and C. G. Trinder, ‘Poverty in York: A Follow-Up Study Based on the 1950 Rowntree-Lavers Sample’, 1976.

A. B. Atkinson, A. K. Maynard and C. G. Trinder, ‘Inter-generational Income Mobility: Preliminary Evidence from the Rowntree Data’, November 1977.

A. B. Atkinson, A. K. Maynard and C. G. Trinder, ‘Evidence on Inter-generational Income Mobility in Britain’, Economics Letters, Vol. 1, 1978.

A. B. Atkinson, ‘Inter-generational Income Mobility’, IHS Journal, Vol. 3, 1979.

A. B. Atkinson, ‘Income Distribution and Inequality of Opportunity’, in IHS Journal, Vol. 4, 1980.

A. B. Atkinson and H. Sutherland, ‘Indices of Deprivation and Inter-generational Continuities’, July 1980.

A. B. Atkinson, A. K. Maynard and C. G. Trinder, ‘Evidence on Inter-generational Income Mobility in Britain: Some Further Results’, paper presented to International Economic Association Conference, Mexico City, August 1980.

A. B. Atkinson, J. Corlyon, A. K. Maynard, H. Sutherland and C. G. Trinder, ‘Poverty in York: A Re-Analysis of Rowntree’s 1950 Survey’, in the Bulletin of Economic Research, Vol. 33, 1981.

A. B. Atkinson, A. K. Maynard and C. G. Trinder, ‘National Assistance and Low Incomes in 1950’, in Social Policy and Administration, Spring 1981.

S. Jenkins and A. Maynard, ‘The Rowntree Surveys: Poverty in York Since 1899’, in C. H. Feinstein, ed. ‘York 1831-1981’, 1981.

A. B. Atkinson, ‘On Inter-generational Income Mobility in Britain’ in the Journal of Post-Keynesian Economics, Winter 1980-1.

A. B. Atkinson, ‘The Measurement of Economic Mobility’ in P. J. Eijgelshoven and L. J. van Gemerden, Eds. ‘Festschrift in honour of Professor J. Pen’, 1981.

S. P. Jenkins, ‘Matrix Analysis of Simultaneous Equation Distributional Models’, University of York Discussion Paper 69, March 1981.

A. B. Atkinson, ‘Intergenerational Earnings Mobility in Britain’, paper presented at Free University of Berlin, May 1981.

A. B. Atkinson and S. P. Jenkins, ‘The Estimation of Distributional Models and the Steady State Assumption’, June 1981.

A. B. Atkinson, A. K. Maynard, and C. G. Trinder, in conjunction with J. Corlyon, S. P. Jenkins and H. Sutherland, ‘From Parents to Children: Living Standards in Two Generations’, August 1981 [final unpublished report of study]

A. B. Atkinson, A. K. Maynard, and C. G. Trinder, in conjunction with J. Corlyon, S. P. Jenkins and H. Sutherland, ‘Parents and Children: Incomes in Two Generations’, London 1983 [final report of study revised for publication]

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Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

GB 193

Rules and/or conventions used

ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).

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