National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging

Americans' Changing Lives: Waves I, II, III, and IV, 1986, 1989, 1994, and 2002 (ICPSR 4690) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):


Focusing especially on differences between Black and White Americans in middle and late life, these data constitute the first, second, third, and fourth waves in a national longitudinal panel survey covering a wide range of sociological, psychological, mental, and physical health items. The fourth wave of Americans' Changing Lives (ACL IV) was collected in 2002 and is part of a larger research program designed to investigate the following: (1) the ways in which a wide range of activities and social relationships that people engage in are broadly "productive," (2) how individuals adapt to acute life events and chronic stresses that threaten the maintenance of health, effective functioning, and productive activity, and (3) sociocultural variations in the nature, meaning, determinants, and consequences of productive activity and relationships. Among the topics covered are interpersonal relationships (spouse/partner, children, parents, friends), sources and levels of satisfaction, social interactions and leisure activities, traumatic life events (physical assault, serious illness, divorce, death of a loved one, financial or legal problems), perceptions of retirement, health behaviors (smoking, alcohol consumption, overweight, rest), and utilization of health care services (doctor visits, hospitalization, nursing home institutionalization, bed days). Also included are measures of physical health, psychological well-being, and indices referring to cognitive functioning. Background information provided for individuals includes household composition, number of children and grandchildren, employment status, occupation and work history, income, family financial situation, religious beliefs and practices, ethnicity, race, education, sex, and region of residence.

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.


WARNING: This study is over 150MB in size and may take several minutes to download on a typical internet connection.

Study Description


House, James S. Americans' Changing Lives: Waves I, II, III, and IV, 1986, 1989, 1994, and 2002. ICPSR04690-v5. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research[distributor], 2010-05-27.

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)


This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Aging (AG05561)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   coping, experience, family relationships, health behavior, life events, life satisfaction, mental health, older adults, psychological wellbeing, quality of life, race, social networks, stress

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1986
  • 1989
  • 1994
  • 2002

Date of Collection:  

  • 1986
  • 1989
  • 1994
  • 2002

Universe:   The continental United States' household population aged 25 and older.

Data Types:   survey data

Data Collection Notes:

This data collection incorporates data from the first three waves of this survey: AMERICANS' CHANGING LIVES: WAVE I AND II, 1986 AND 1989 (ACLII) [ICPSR 6438], AMERICANS' CHANGING LIVES: WAVE I, II, AND III 1986, 1989, AND 1994 (ACLIII) [ICPSR 3394], with data from the fourth wave carried out in 2002.

Wave IV supercedes all previous collections. The earlier data collections, Waves I and II (ICPSR 6438), and Waves I, II, and III (ICPSR 3394), are no longer available from ICPSR.

ACL3 documentation has been added to this collection as a supplemental document.


Sample:   For Wave I, a multistage stratified area probability sample with oversampling of Blacks and those aged 60 and older was used. For Wave II, an attempt was made to contact all the respondents from Wave I (N = 3,617). The cases responding to Wave II numbered 2,867. For Wave III, an attempt was made to contact all the respondents from Waves I and II. The cases responding to Wave III numbered 2,562. In addition, some Wave III interviews (N = 164) were done by proxy respondents and not by the original Wave I respondent. The cases corresponding to Wave IV number 3,617.

Mode of Data Collection:   face-to-face interview

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.


Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2010-05-27 Additional documentation has been made available.
  • 2008-12-11 The data have been updated.
  • 2008-11-18 The data and codebook have been updated.
  • 2007-10-11 The codebook has been updated.
  • 2007-04-12 The data and codebook have been updated.

Related Publications (see Notes)



Metadata Exports

If you're looking for collection-level metadata rather than an individual metadata record, please visit our Metadata Records page.

Download Statistics