Demographic Data for COVID-19 & Aging Research


MiCDA affiliates lead major studies of aging that serve as critical infrastructure for the field. Because these ongoing panel studies follow the same people over time and are designed to be nationally representative, they are well positioned to capture many of the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak – on health and functioning, work, economic resources, and wellbeing.  In addition, these studies are launching supplemental data collection efforts to study COVID-19, as described below.

Health and Retirement Study

  • The Health and Retirement Study has added a COVID-19 module to the core 2020 telephone instrument. Topics in this module include effects of the pandemic on health, access to testing and medical care, work, finances, and caregiving. Read more about HRS Partner Study COVID-19 resources. In addition, saliva collection kits were sent to 2020 sample respondents to test for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies (an indicator of past infection).
  • The Health and Retirement Study has also revised its Self-Administered Questionnaire (SAQ) to measure changes in respondents’ social engagement and psychological well-being as a result of the pandemic. The SAQ was mailed to respondents. An additional mail questionnaire about the pandemic’s effects was administered in 2021.

Panel Study of Income Dynamics

  • To more fully capture the impacts of COVID-19, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) added questions to its next wave, which will begin in 2021, including measures of the exposure to COVID-19, receipt of stimulus payments, and approaches families used to address financial difficulties during the pandemic.
  • PSID’s Child Development Supplement also added COVID-19 content to capture effects on health and schooling for children, caregivers, and other adults for its 2020 collection.

National Health and Aging Trends Study

  • The National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) conducted a mail follow-back study in 2020 for participants and two family members or friends who helped participants most during the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics include COVID-19 symptoms, social distancing behaviors, and changes compared to before the outbreak in living arrangements, contact with family and friends, activities, health care, finances, wellbeing and care.
  • NHATS has also added an open-ended question to its 2020 telephone interview on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected participants’ lives. The open text will be de-identified, transcribed and made available to researchers.