Using the HRS

Insights and advice for new and seasoned users of the Health and Retirement Study

Getting Started with the HRS in 4 Steps

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Learning how to use a complex data set like the HRS can seem daunting. Fortunately, HRS provides all the information and tools necessary to get started. Below I outline 4 steps to getting started with the HRS.

Step 1 – First, learn about the survey design and content.

  • This 12 minute video provides a quick overview of the study.
  • For more detailed information on the survey check out the Data Book.
  • There is also an Introduction page with a comprehensive set of links to documents and webpages with information about the study.
  • And for a brief overview on using the HRS website.

Step 2 – Then, explore the work that’s been done previously using HRS data, either in your specific area of interest or more broadly.

Step 3 – Search for variables of interest, and determine in which waves the variables are available.

  • If you know what variables you’re looking for and have a good idea of which section of the survey they can be found, you can learn about variables of interest from the online codebooks.
  • But if you don’t know what specific variables you’re looking for, or which waves, you can do key word searches using the Concordance Tool.

Step 4 – Download the data.


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