Panel Study of Income Dynamics

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Panel Study of Income Dynamics


The Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) is a longitudinal study of a representative sample of U.S. individuals and the families in which they reside. The PSID emphasizes the dynamic aspects of family economics, demography, and health. Data have been collected since 1968, making the PSID the longest running panel on family and individual dynamics. It has consistently achieved response rates of 95 to 98 percent, and as of 2005, 8,041 families were currently participating in the survey. Over the years, the PSID has collected information on nearly 70,000 individuals spanning as much as thirty-seven years of their lives.

Through multiple waves collected over long time periods, these data are the only data ever collected on life course and multigenerational health, well-being, and economic conditions in a long-term panel representative of the full U.S. population. The PSID has collected data on employment, income, housing, food expenditures, transfer income, and marital and fertility behavior annually between 1968 and 1997, and biennially between 1999 and 2005. Additionally PSID collects data on health status, health behaviors, health care utilization, health insurance, and philanthropy. Beginning in 1985 comprehensive retrospective fertility and marriage histories of individuals in the households have been assembled.

The PSID sample, originating in 1968, consists of two independent samples of the U.S. population: a cross-sectional national sample and a national sample of low-income families. The Survey Research Center (SRC) drew the cross-sectional sample (known as the SRC sample), which was an equal probability sample of households from the forty-eight contiguous states designated to yield about 3,000 completed interviews. The second sample came from the Survey of Economic Opportunity (SEO) conducted by the Bureau of the Census for the Office of Economic Opportunity. In the mid-1960s, the PSID selected about 2,000 low-income families with heads under the age of sixty from SEO respondents. The PSID core sample combines the SRC and SEO samples.

From 1968 to 1997 the PSID interviewed individuals from families in the core sample every year, whether or not they were living in the same dwelling or with the same people. Adults have been followed as they have grown older, and children have been interviewed as they advance through childhood and into adulthood, forming families of their own. In 1997 the PSID changed from every-year interviewing to every-other-year interviewing. Moreover, a sample of 441 immigrant families was added to enhance the representativeness of the sample.

In 1997 and again in 2002, the PSID supplemented its main data collection with information on PSID parents and their children in order to study the dynamic process of early life experiences. The supplement, called the Child Development Supplement (CDS), included a broad array of development measures, including: (a) age graded assessments of cognitive, behavioral, and health status of children obtained from the caregivers and the child/youth; (b) a comprehensive accounting of parental/caregiver time inputs to children as well as other aspects of the ways in which children and adolescents spend their time; (c) teacher-reported time use in elementary school; and (d) other-than-time use measures of additional resources, for example, the learning environment in the home, teacher reports of school resources, and decennial-census-based measurement of neighborhood resources. In 1997 CDS-I collected data on 3,563 children aged zero to twelve in 2,394 families. Five years later, CDS-II re-interviewed 2,021 of the CDS-I families, providing data on 2,907 CDS children and youth.

In calendar year 2005 alone over 5,500 unique users (i.e., unique IP addresses) downloaded more than 32,000 data sets from the PSID Data Center. The PSID Web site received over 1.6 million hits in 2005. Since its inception, over 2,000 journal articles, books, book chapters, and dissertations have been based on the PSID, and today a paper is published in a peer-reviewed outlet roughly every four days. The study was named one of the National Science Foundations (NSF) Nifty Fifty, the most notable NSF-funded inventions and discoveries in NSF history, 19502000.

It is difficult to briefly summarize the scientific impact of the PSID. Additional detail is provided on the PSID Web site. Areas of significant contribution include intergenerational transmission of economic status, childrens time use, the dynamics of poverty and economic status, resource sharing among extended family members, the interconnection between well-being and marriage and fertility, and neighborhood effects on individual social and economic outcomes.

SEE ALSO National Assessment of Educational Progress; National Family Health Surveys; National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health; National Longitudinal Survey of Youth; Survey; Surveys, Sample


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McLanahan, Sara, and Gary Sandefur. 1994. Growing Up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Solon, Gary. 1992. Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States. The American Economic Review 82 (3): 393408.

Robert F. Schoeni