About the American Life Panel

  • The RAND American Life Panel

    This document provides a detailed description of the RAND American Life Panel methodology related to sample recruitment, sample retention, and weighting and should be of use for users of the panel and as general reference material.

The RAND American Life Panel (ALP) is a nationally representative panel of 6,000 members ages 18 and older who speak English or Spanish. The ALP has expanded from about 800 members in 2003 to its current size. ALP surveys are conducted online to provide quick, affordable, and high-quality results. To enhance the representativeness of the panel, RAND provides internet services and computers to members that would otherwise not be able to participate. ALP members are primarily recruited through probability-based methods.

Once in the ALP, participants tend to remain indefinitely, resulting in relatively low attrition rates. ALP panel members are responsive, with survey completion rates generally in the 70%–80% range. All respondent data collected with the American Life Panel are accompanied by demographic information about each respondent. This set of demographics is collected three times a year through a household information survey. The content collected from the household information survey is patterned after the Current Population Survey (CPS) to aid in weighting the data.

Surveys

The ALP has conducted more than 450 surveys covering diverse topics, such as financial decisionmaking, the effect of political events on self-reported well-being, inflation expectations, joint retirement decisions, retirement preferences, health decisionmaking, Social Security knowledge and expectations, measurement of health utility, and numeracy.

About 35 different research groups have conducted surveys using the panel. The ALP has over 700 registered users from numerous institutions, both in the United States and in Europe. Clients include the Federal Reserve Banks of Boston and New York, the Social Security Administration, Harvard University, Dartmouth College, University of Southern California, University of Southern California Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania, and Tilburg University (Netherlands).

History

In 2003, RAND received a five-year grant from the National Institute on Aging to study methodological issues of internet interviewing among an older population. RAND researchers collaborated on this project with researchers at the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study.

Since then, the ALP has expanded from 800 panel members in 2003, ages 40 and older, to over 6000 panel members, ages 18 and older today. The panel as it currently operates began in early 2006.

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