Recent developments in longitudinal studies of aging in the United States

Abstract

We review recent developments in longitudinal studies of aging, focusing on the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) and the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). Both studies are part of a trend toward biosocial surveys in which biological measurement is joined with traditional survey techniques, and a related trend toward greater harmonization across studies. Both studies have collected DNA samples and are working toward genotyping that would allow broadly based association studies. Increased attention to psychological measurement of personality and of cognitive ability using adaptive testing structures has also been shared across the studies. The HRS has expanded its economic measurement to longitudinal studies of consumption and to broader-based measurement of pension and Social Security wealth. It has added biomarkers of cardiovascular risk. The WLS has developed an integrated approach to the study of death and bereavement and an innovative use of high school yearbook photographs to capture information about health in early life of its participants.

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Correspondence to Robert M. Hauser.

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Support for Hauser’s research was provided by the National Institute on Aging (AG-9775 and AG-21079), the Vilas Estate Trust, and the Center for Demography of Health and Aging at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This article partly reflects Hauser’s collaborations with Taissa S. Hauser, Carol Roan, Tetanya Pudrovska, Deborah Carr, and other staff and investigators of the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study.

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Hauser, R.M., Weir, D. Recent developments in longitudinal studies of aging in the United States. Demography 47, S111–S130 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1353/dem.2010.0012

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Keywords

  • Serotonin Transporter
  • Facial Attractiveness
  • Retirement Study
  • Graduate Record Examination
  • Social Security Wealth