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A Census-Enhanced Health and Retirement Study: Enhancing an HRS Dataset with Characteristics of Employers

The Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan, in cooperation with the U.S. Census Bureau and Cornell University, proposes to link the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to economic, business, and employment data from the Census Bureau. The HRS surveys more than 22,000 Americans over the age of 50 every two years. It is a large-scale longitudinal project that studies the labor force participation and health transitions that individuals undergo toward the end of their work lives and in the years that follow. Since its launch in 1992, the study has collected extensive survey information on income and wealth, physical and mental health, and employment and other activities, and linked these survey data to individual-level administrative data from Social Security and Medicare. This new linkage to Census business data will allow us to create a Census-enhanced version of the HRS that will include contextual variables relating to a very broad range of characteristics of each firm at which HRS respondents worked.

This project will create two distinct data resources:

  • A Census-enhanced public-use (non-Census enclave) version of HRS that includes a wide of array of variables characterizing HRS employers that can be calculated from Census data.
  • A crosswalk between HRS and Census data that allows researchers with projects approved by the Census Bureau to conduct research and construct new variables using the full scope of Census economic and business data. This crosswalk will permit projects that require access to microdata on establishments to be carried out in the Census RDCs on an ongoing basis.

The project will support ten research modules that examine the demand and supply of labor of older workers, the determinants of the retirement decision, and the impact of employment and the characteristics of employers on the health and well-being of older Americans. In its fourth and fifth year it will support a series of pilot studies to conduct further research on this new data resource.