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Which Questions in the Health and Retirement Study are Used by Researchers? Evidence from Academic Journals, 2006-2009


  • Jackson Tina

    () (Health Dialog, Inc.)

  • Balduf Mabel

    () (United States Marine Corps)

  • Yasaitis Laura

    () (Dartmouth Medical School and The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice)

  • Skinner Jonathan

    () (Dartmouth College)


Since 2002, the average number of questions asked per respondent in the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) has risen by 39 percent, from 413 to 581. Yet there is little or no understanding of which questions, or how many in total, should be included—and more importantly, maintained—in longitudinal surveys. In this paper, we propose a simple approach to assessing the value of survey questions: journal citation counts. A sample of journal articles and book chapters published in 2006-09 (N = 206) is used to document which questions, and categories of questions, were used most and least frequently. A disproportionate number of published articles used a relatively small number of questions regarding health, wealth, income, and employment. By contrast, several categories of questions were rarely used, and many specific questions were never used. This evidence-based approach to measuring the value of survey questions can have applications for other surveys beyond the HRS.

Suggested Citation

  • Jackson Tina & Balduf Mabel & Yasaitis Laura & Skinner Jonathan, 2011. "Which Questions in the Health and Retirement Study are Used by Researchers? Evidence from Academic Journals, 2006-2009," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 14(3), pages 1-11, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:fhecpo:v:14:y:2011:i:3:n:12

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Tan, Michelle, 2011. "Noncognitive skills, occupational attainment, and relative wages," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 1-13, January.
    2. Lex Borghans & Angela Lee Duckworth & James J. Heckman & Bas ter Weel, 2008. "The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
    3. Nyhus, Ellen K. & Pons, Empar, 2005. "The effects of personality on earnings," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 363-384, June.
    4. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
    5. Jutta Viinikainen & Katja Kokko & Lea Pulkkinen & Jaakko Pehkonen, 2010. "Personality and Labour Market Income: Evidence from Longitudinal Data," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 24(2), pages 201-220, June.
    6. Gerrit Mueller & Erik Plug, 2006. "Estimating the Effect of Personality on Male and Female Earnings," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(1), pages 3-22, October.
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