vey of Families and Households, Americans’ Changing Lives, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, and the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study.

The Health and Retirement Survey is a prospective study, now including more than 20,000 adults. It started in 1992-1993, and it has basically become a continuous longitudinal survey of all cohorts in the United States over the age of 50. “This is just a terrific vehicle; it is the Cadillac of such surveys,” Dr. Hauser said. “It doesn’t attempt to do everything for everybody. There is a specific emphasis on policies affecting retirement, health insurance, savings, and economic well-being.” Some of its topics include health, disability and cognition, retirement plans, a variety of attitudes and preferences, family structure and transfers, employment status, job history and requirements, housing, income and net worth, health insurance, and pension plans.

The Longitudinal Studies of Aging were two six-year panel studies—the first in 1984, the second in 1994, with each followed biennially through four waves. The samples were drawn from the National Health Interview Survey, Dr. Hauser said, and the two studies ascertain a long list of self-reported social and health conditions such as housing characteristics, family structure and living arrangements, relationships and social contracts, and use of community services.

The National Long-Term Care Survey has gone through five panels from the early 1980s through 1999. Though it addresses the entire aged population—data are drawn from Medicare records—there is a focus on the functionally impaired. It provides very good data on trends in disability and mortality, he said.

The National Survey of Families and Households, which began in 1987-1988 and is now entering its third wave, “has really reinvented the sociology of the family in the United States,” Dr. Hauser said. The design study focuses on relationships between parents and children, spouses and exspouses, ex-spouses and children, cohabitors—“all of these possible role relationships that now exist in abundance among American families.”

Americans’ Changing Lives, another broad-based population survey that started with 3,600 cases in 1986, has gone through three waves and is about to enter its fourth. It focuses on “productive” social relationships and cross-cultural variations within them, as well as on stressful events, chronic strains, and their effects on health functioning and productive activity. This survey has a substantial oversample of black Americans, Dr. Hauser said, and a lot of the activity focuses on comparisons between blacks and whites.

The Panel Study of Income Dynamics is an annual household survey

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