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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Microdata Use: Longitudinal Demographic Microdata

Major sources of microdata by country and subject and tips research use


What is longitudinal demographic microdata? On the National Longitudinal Surveys website the US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides the definition:

"Longitudinal data, sometimes referred to as panel data, track the same sample at different points in time. The sample can consist of individuals, households, establishments, and so on. In contrast, repeated cross-sectional data, which also provides long-term data, gives the same survey to different samples over time."

Examples of Longitudinal Microdata Sets

Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (Center for Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
The Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) is a 35-year study of the social and economic life course among 10,317 men and women who graduated from Wisconsin high schools in 1957, and who have been followed up at ages 25, 36, and 53-54. Data from the original respondents or their parents from 1957 to 1975 cover social background, youthful and adult aspirations, schooling, military service, family formation, labor market experience, and social participation. The 1992-93 surveys cover occupational histories; income, assets, and economic transfers; social and economic characteristics of parents, siblings, and children; and mental and physical health and well-being. Parallel interviews have been carried out with siblings in 1977 and 1993-94. WLS data and codebooks are available on its homepage.


Panel Study of Income Dynamics (Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan)
Having continued for over 30 years, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) is a longitudinal survey of a representative sample of U.S. men, women, and children and the families in which they reside. High quality data on employment, income, wealth, health, housing, and food expenditures, transfer income, and marital and fertility behavior have been collected annually since 1968.  The data were collected annually through 1997, and biennially starting in 1999. The data files contain the full span of information collected over the course of the study. PSID data can be used for cross-sectional, longitudinal, and intergenerational analysis and for studying both individuals and families. The most recent versions of all PSID data and supplements can be downloaded from this site.


National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (ADD Health) (Population Center, University of North Carolina)
This is a longitudinal study which provides research data on various key questions about adolescent health and health behaviors. A national sample of 7th to 12th grade students completed 90,000 in-school questionnaires during the 1994-1995 school year. Twenty thousand students and a parent were interviewed in their homes during the summer of 1995; fourteen thousand of the adolescents were re-interviewed during the summer of 1996. Add Health data are available in two forms--a public-use dataset and a restricted-access contractual dataset. It is a central concern of the Add Health study that the confidentiality of respondents be strictly protected. Thus, public-use data includes only a subset of respondents; restricted-use data will be distributed only to certified researchers who commit    themselves to maintaining limited access; and in no case will identification numbers of persons nominated by the respondents be available to outside researchers.


Children and Young Adults of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)
The Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79) is a longitudinal data set that focuses on the cognitive, socio-emotional, and physiological development of the children of the mothers in the NLSY79. The Children of the NLSY79 data set profiles the development and achievement of the children of the mothers in the NLSY79. Started in 1986 and repeated biennially, the NLSY79 Child/YA uses mother report and direct assessment to gage the children's growth, abilities, problems, school progress, and home environment. Starting in 1994, children 15 and older have been interviewed, much like their mothers, on schooling, employment, training, family experiences, health, and attitudes. The Child/YA sample ranges in age from birth to middle twenties and contains significant numbers of black, Hispanic and (through 1990) economically disadvantaged white respondents. The Center for Human Resource Research (CHRR) issues the maternal and child data and documentation at a nominal cost on CD-ROM.


National Longitudinal Survey of Children  and Youth, Canada "The National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY), developed jointly by Human Resources Development Canada and Statistics Canada, is a long term research project that will track a large sample (22,831) of children (ages 0-11 yrs.) over many years, enabling researchers to monitor children's well-being and development. Longitudinal data are central to discovering developmental changes in children over time, and studying the impacts of social environment of the child and various family related factors." The microdata samples for NLSCY are available for use within the constraints of the DLI license to Canadian univeristy libraries users. The files are zipped for quick downloading and must be unzipped on the local hard drive. SPSS command files are also supplied for customized use.