The collection of retrospective information about the early life of HRS participants began in the core biennial HRS interviews in 1992 and has evolved over time. For example, the initial 1931-1941 HRS cohort provided information about the education of their parents in 1992, childhood geographical location in 1996, and additional background about family context in 1998. From 2008 onward, questions about childhood family context, together with multiple items about childhood health conditions and diagnoses were added. Marital, fertility, and employment histories have also been collected in the core interviews at study entry and repeated over time.
Thus the HRS core interviews provide rich life history data, but additional data collection was necessary to fill in some gaps and enhance information about childhood and early-to-mid adulthood. The Life History Mail Survey (LHMS) adds residential, educational, employment, partnership, and caregiving information prior to age 50.
These sources are listed below. A user guide provides detail on all of these resources.