UM23-Q1: RAND HRS Poverty Measures for HRS 1994
The Health and Retirement Study (HRS) is the primary data set in the U.S. for the study of the well-being of the older population. A common indicator of material hardship used in research and in the administration of various government programs is poverty status. A household is considered “in poverty” according to federal guidelines if household income is less than a certain threshold, where the threshold depends on household composition and the age of the householder. To facilitate research, the RAND HRS Longitudinal File provides poverty measures for HRS waves 2002 and onward. In MRDRC project UM21-Q5, we proposed to construct the poverty measures and related variables for the earlier HRS and AHEAD waves. Not entirely unexpected, the work was complicated by the fact that the earlier waves were all quite different in structure, especially prior to 1998, when the HRS and AHEAD were still separate studies with different survey instruments conducted on separate interview schedules. For HRS 1994 we encountered a more substantial roadblock and had to suspend work on that wave, in the interest of completing the poverty measures for the other waves. Construction of poverty status and related variables for all earlier waves, except HRS 1994, is in its final stages. We now propose an amendment to produce the poverty measures for HRS 1994 in order to complete the full series of HRS poverty measures.