HRS 1940 Census Data

The HRS 1940 Census project is part of a larger effort to conduct parallel linkages to the 1940 Census for respondents to the HRS, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS), the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP), and the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS). In each cohort study, many sample members were alive at the time of the 1940 federal census and were thus enumerated (along with their families and household members). These five ongoing longitudinal studies are central components of America’s data infrastructure for interdisciplinary research on aging and the life course; physical and mental health, disability, and well-being; later-life work, economic well-being, and retirement; end-of-life issues, and many other topics.

The HRS 1940 Census file contains records from the 1940 Census for HRS respondents who were alive by the time of the decennial enumeration on April 1, 1940. Whether a 1940 Census record has been found for a HRS person is documented in Tracker (CENSUS1940). Of the 20,065 HRS sample members we attempted to link, we were able to confidently declare high-quality matches for 9,654 (or 48.1%).

Variables from the 1940 Census—as prepared and documented by the IPUMS project at the University of Minnesota—are contained in three separate files: a household-level file, a person-level file, and an other person file which contains information on non-HRS household members. For each type of file, there is a Standard version and a Geographic version; the version to which a researcher would have access will depend on their analytic needs. Geographic identifiers are for the most part not available with the Standard version of the files. Details on the contents of each file are available in the Appendix of the Documentation Report (see below).

New in Version 2

The ENUMDIST (enumeration district) codes available in the HRS-1940 Geographic file have been updated to reflect corrections published by IPUMS on April 19, 2021. The updated enumeration district values are now available in the ENUMV2 variable.

How to access the 1940 Census data

To protect respondents' identities and privacy, researchers need to access linked census data via the HRS restricted data access and licensing protocols. This means, in general, that linked files will be available remotely via a secure server at the University of Michigan’s Center on the Demography of Aging (MiCDA) and only after appropriate data use agreements and security protocols have been established. The Geographic versions of the files are only available in the MiCDA enclave environment. To gain access to the Geographic versions, users will need to explain why they require access to the geographic variables and what external data sources, if any, they intend to link to the HRS data. Users are encouraged to use the Standard version in the MiCDA environment but can be made available through a traditional restricted data license if there is demonstrated need. To apply to access linked 1940-HRS data, please read the instructions for accessing HRS Restricted Data.

This project received support from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) via grant R01AG050300. It also benefitted from administrative and technical support from the Minnesota Population Center, which receives core infrastructure support from NIH grant 2P2CHD041023, and the Michigan Center on the Demography of Aging, which receives core infrastructure support from NIH grant P30 AG012846.

Product Details

Product Type
Census Data
Latest Release October 2022 (v2)
Documentation and Links

Researchers may find further data descriptions and codebooks at the IPUMS website: