RAND Enhanced HRS Fat Files

The Center has produced enhanced versions of "raw" HRS data files that take the raw variables from each questionnaire section, and collapses them into a single respondent-level dataset for each wave. These files are easily merged with one another and with the RAND HRS dataset, which can expedite the preparation of analytic files from HRS.

Among the enhancements:

  • The HRS data are distributed in modules that are organized by questionnaire section. Some modules contain household-level variables, such as information on assets. We merged all modules into individual-level records. This eliminates the need to search through modules for particular variables and facilitates merging files across waves.
  • The HRS collects certain individual-level information by asking one household member to answer about another. For example, the financial respondent provides earnings information for himself or herself and his or her spouse. We created new variables for "own" and "partner" information by re-assigning responses to the appropriate person.

There is a single Fat File for each year of HRS which contains most of the "raw" or original variables, merged to the respondent level.

To access the data:

  • You must first register with HRS, if you haven't already. Registration is free. You will receive a password from HRS within 24 hours, usually much sooner. When you receive your password, you can return here to continue.
  • If you've already registered, login to the HRS Public File Download System.
  • Once you have logged in, follow the "Data Downloads" link.

Available files include 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and early release 2014 data. These can easily be used with the current release of the RAND HRS. The RAND HRS Data file development begins with these enhanced "raw" files.

For more detailed information, please see the following documents:

Overview of RAND Enhanced HRS Fat Files (PDF Download) Documentation for Fat Files Help Using Data Products FAQ

These documents provide information on what has been added to raw HRS data in these files, but they are not codebooks or questionnaires. Codebooks and questionnaires may be found on the HRS website. We urge you to regularly visit the HRS website, which provides a wealth of information about the data, including questionnaires, codebooks, background on study design, and data alerts.

For more information, questions or comments please see our FAQ or email us at RANDHRSHelp@rand.org.

Before doing so, however, we kindly request that users first consult the documentation that accompanies our data products, as we have found that our responses often point users to specific sections of the documentation that provide further detail on the variables mentioned in the users’ queries.

In addition, we recommend that users become familiar with some of the information provided on the HRS website, such as the HRS questionnaires and codebooks for the key variables under study.

We have also found the concordance tool extremely useful to help find available variables across waves: