The UAS Health and Retirement project in the Understanding America Study follows a panel study conducted by the University of Michigan. That undertaking, the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), administers a series of surveys to approximately 20,000 Americans over the age of 50 every two years. The UAS conducts the same series of surveys, but with some key differences:

The UAS Health and Retirement surveys cover a wide range of ground including (but not limited to) physical health, cognitive functioning, disability, family structure, work, income, assets, pension plans, health insurance, and health care expenditures. For the baseline surveys (surveys filled out by UAS respondents the first time round) the content is drawn from the HRS 2014 surveys. Surveys conducted consecutively every two years are based on the corresponding year within the University of Michigan's study (e.g. 2016 for the second wave of the surveys).


Below are the waves that have been administered in the UnderStanding America Study. To learn more about a wave, please use the links below:

UAS HRS Comprehensive File

In addition to the raw HRS data available through the UAS Data Dissemination web site, a cleaned up, comprehensive file is also offered. The UAS HRS data on the file are standardized variables from the first (Wave 1) fielding of UAS HRS surveys. These standardized variables are similar in structure to what is found on the RAND HRS file produced by the RAND Corporation.  This was done to promote familiarity with the UAS HRS Comprehensive File if users have worked with the RAND HRS data previously.

The UAS Comprehensive file contains a number of domains in addition to the HRS, including several cognitive tests, personality, subjective well-being, several surveys dealing with financial management, preparation for retirement and knowledge of Social Security rules.

The current version of the UAS Comprehensive File can be downloaded here (registration required) and it focuses on measures related to financial decision‑making such as income, housing, and financial wealth. For a detailed explanation please have a look at the UAS HRS Public Use File Data Description.