This is the website for the Health and Retirement Study, a major national panel study of the lives of older Americans. The Health and Retirement Study includes the "original" HRS study (data collection in 1992, 1994, and 1996) and the "AHEAD" study (data collections in 1993 and 1995). These studies were merged in 1998 and now represent the U.S. population over age 50 in 1998. Two new cohorts were added in 1998: the Children of the Depression (born 1924-1930) and the War Babies (1942-1947). A fourth cohort, the Early Baby Boomers (1948-1953), was added in 2004; a fifth cohort, the Mid Baby Boomers (1954-1959), was added in 2010; and in 2016, the Late Baby Boomers cohort (1960-1965) became the sixth.
More HRS overview/background information:
- The Health and Retirement Study: An Introduction — A video introduction to the HRS
- Aging in the 21st Century — The HRS databook
- Design History (.pdf) — Background on the history of the HRS, including details on the early HRS and AHEAD surveys and the transition to the steady state sample (.pdf)
- Data Collection Path Diagram — A visual display of HRS data collection efforts
- Survey Design — An overview of HRS design and methodology
Information for all publicly released HRS data products is available in the Documentation section. This includes questionnaires, data descriptions, codebooks, and other items of interest.
Of special note is the Question Concordance, used to determine the specific data items needed for an analytical task.
HRS co-investigators and staff members have created a series of "User Guide" documents designed to provide additional information to hands-on users of HRS data products. The following are recommended to first-time users of HRS public data:
- Servais, Marita A. Overview of HRS Public Data Files for Cross-sectional and Longitudinal Analysis (2010)
- Servais, Marita A. An Elementary Cookbook of Data Management Using HRS Data with SPSS, SAS and Stata Examples (2004)
Researchers who wish to use HRS family data should also review the Resources for Analysis of Family Data page.
The Data Products section contains listings of available data products, along with information on access policies and procedures.
Public Data is available to anyone who creates an account on the HRS data download site.
The Publications section contains the HRS Bibilography — a searchable database of publications that utilize HRS data. If you have written, published, or presented any work involving our data, please register it.