The Health and Retirement Study: A Public Data Resource for Research on Aging

TitleThe Health and Retirement Study: A Public Data Resource for Research on Aging
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsSonnega, A, Weir, DR
JournalOpen Health Data
Date PublishedApr-10-2015
ISSN Number2054-7102
KeywordsData methods, Survey Methodology

The Health and Retirement Study (HRS) is a nationally representative longitudinal survey of more than 37,000 individuals in 23,000 households over age 50 in the United States. Fielded biennially since 1992, it was established to provide a national resource for data on the changing health and economic circumstances associated with aging. HRS covers four broad topic areas—income and wealth; health, cognition, and use of health care services; work and retirement; and family connections. HRS data are also linked at the individual level to administrative records from Social Security and Medicare, Veteran’s Administration, the National Death Index, and employer-provided pension plan information. In 2006, data collection expanded to include biomarkers and genetics and greater depth in psychosocial well-being and social context. This blend of economic, health, and psychosocial information provides unprecedented potential to study increasingly complex questions about aging and retirement. HRS prioritizes rapid release of data while simultaneously protecting the confidentiality of respondents. Three categories of data—public, sensitive, and restricted—can be accessed through procedures described on the HRS website (

Citation Key9037