Academic journal article Social Security Bulletin

The Health and Retirement Study Data Set

Academic journal article Social Security Bulletin

The Health and Retirement Study Data Set

Article excerpt

Introduction

The Health and Retirement Study (HRS) is a longitudinal study intended to provide data for researchers, policy analysts, and program planners who are making major policy decisions that affect retirement, health insurance, saving, and economic wellbeing. Since its inception in 1992, it has become the nation's leading data resource on the combined health and economic circumstances of Americans as they age.

The HRS was developed in 1992 by the National Institute on Aging as two distinct though closely related studies. The first, known as the Health and Retirement Survey, or the "original HRS," was administered initially in 1992. It was based on a nationally representative sample of about 12,600 persons aged 51-61 in about 7,600 households, with oversamples of African Americans and Latinos. Sample members were reinterviewed in 1994, 1996, 1998, and 2000.

The second survey, known as the Study of Asset and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old, or "AHEAD," was first administered in 1993 to a sample of about 8,200 Americans aged 70 or older and their spouses. Those individuals were reinterviewed in 1995, 1998, and 2000.

In 1998, the original HRS and AHEAD samples were integrated and consolidated into the project now known as the Health and Retirement Study. Two new groups of participants-War Babies (born 1942 to 1947) and Children of the Depression (born 1924 to 1930)--were added in 1998. The HRS is now a longitudinal, biennial survey of a representative sample of more than 22,000 Americans over age 50.

Features

The HRS has a number of features that make it a valuable source of data for researchers from many disciplines, including economics, sociology, demography, psychology, medicine, and public health. It was designed to provide the necessary data to:

*Explain the antecedents and consequences of retirement;

* Examine the relationship between health, income, and wealth over time;

* Examine life-cycle patterns of wealth accumulation and consumption;

* Monitor work disability; and

* Examine how the mix and distribution of economic, family, and program resources affect key outcomes, including retirement, dissaving, health declines, and institutionalization. …

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