RAND Family Data Files Distribution Description


Data Description

The Health and Retirement Study (HRS) surveys more than 22,000 Americans over the age of 50 every two years to study their labor force participation and health transitions over time. The survey also produces data on the children, parents and siblings of the respondents. The data produced are extremely rich and complex. In an effort to make the family data more accessible to researchers, the ISR at the University of Michigan with funding and support from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the Social Security Administration provided support to RAND Center for the Study of Aging to create the RAND HRS Family data files. This document describes these files.

The RAND HRS Family data is a user-friendly version of HRS family data. The data contain a cleaned, processed, and streamlined collection of variables related to the respondent’s family. The files described here include a subset of available characteristics of all children of HRS respondents and spouses, data on children-in law, and data on grandchildren of the respondent. All is elaborately documented, with special attention to comparability of variables across survey waves.

As of 2011, eleven HRS waves are available for study. The RAND HRS Family data Early Released Version A contains data for the years 1998, 2000, and 2002. The file only incorporates the core interviews. It does not include exit interview or any restricted data.

The RAND HRS Family Data is described in the RAND HRS Family Data Documentation. It describes the file in more detail and contains complete descriptions of the derived variables, including descriptions of how constructed, notes on cross-wave differences, and all raw HRS variables used.

Confidentiality and Access Restrictions

The data described in this document are based on HRS public release files. Before using the data, you must have obtained permission from HRS by registering with them for downloading the public release files. The HRS website contains information on the processes to register for access to HRS public release data (https://ssl.isr.umich.edu/hrs).

By registering with HRS you agree to the "Conditions of Use" governing access to the data. This agreement applies to the use of the RAND HRS Family data as well. There is NO RESTRICTED DATA on the RAND Family data set.



The RAND HRS Family Data are distributed as two alternative longitudinal files: one with respondent-child observations with variables specific to parent-child pairs and one with respondent observations with summary variables about the respondent’s children. The files include waves 1998, 2000 and 2002 of HRS data.

For the respondent level file, there is one record per person who responded in 1998, 2000 and 2002. The file is uniquely identified by a household ID (HHID) and a person number (PN). We combined these variables into a single ID numeric variable: HHIDPN, where HHIDPN = 1000*HHID+PN. The file may be merged with other HRS data by HHIDPN, or HHID and PN, separately.

The respondent-child level file contains one record per person-child pair presenting in 1998, 2000 and 2002 plus any HRS respondent in 1998, 2000 and 2002 who has no kids. For the respondents with children, two variables, HHIDPN and KIDID, can be used to uniquely identify children across waves. For those respondents without any child, the KIDID is blank.

The waves correspond to the following source data:

  • Wave 4 is from 1998 V2.3
  • Wave 5 is from 2000 V1.0
  • Wave 6 is from 2002 V2.0

The RAND HRS Family Data files are distributed in SAS, Stata/SE and SPSS formats

The files are distributed with the following:

  • Documentation: an electronic version of RAND HRS Family Data Documentation.
  • SAS files: the data in SAS V9 format.
  • Stata/SE files: the data in Stata SE (Version 8+).
  • SPSS files: the data in SPSS for Windows format.

This is early release version A of the RAND HRS Family Data.

Distribution files for Web Download

The files can be downloaded from the HRS website, once you have registered to use HRS data. They are zipped for downloading; you must unzip them to make them usable. They are available for download as an entire package or documentation only.. There are three different format packages: SAS, Stata/SE, and SPSS.

SAS and Stata formats differ in value labels and missing value codes. The SAS format is the most comprehensive. Stata allows value labels for integer values only, so no value labels are available for noninteger values. Beginning with version 8, Stata supports multiple codes for missing values (.X, .S, .M, etc). SPSS does not support multiple missing codes.

Distribution file name Included files Description
The complete package
rndfamA_sas.zip randfamA.pdf Codebook
rndfamk_a.sas7bdat SAS data: respondent-child level file
rndfamr_a.sas7bdat SAS data: respondent level file
formats.sas7bcat SAS format library for SAS users
sasfmts.sas7bdat SAS formats for SPSS users
rndfamA_dd.pdf Data description (this file)
rndfamA_stata.zip randfamA.pdf Codebook
rndfamk_a.dta Stata data: respondent-child level file
rndfamr_a.dta Stata data: respondent level file
rndfamA_dd.pdf Data description (this file)
rndfamA_spss.zip randfamA.pdf Codebook
rndfamk_a.sav SPSS data: respondent-child level file
rndfamr_a.sav SPSS data: respondent level file
rndfamA_dd.pdf Data description (this file)

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