Midlife in the United States (MIDUS): Psychological Experiences Follow-Up Study, 1998 (ICPSR 2911)

Published: Mar 20, 2018

Principal Investigator(s):
Elaine Wethington, Cornell University. Department of Human Development and Department of Sociology; Ronald C. Kessler, Harvard Medical School. Department of Health Care Policy; Orville G. Brim, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Research Network on Successful Midlife Development



Version V2

The Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) data collection was a collaborative, interdisciplinary investigation of patterns, predictors, and consequences of midlife development in the areas of physical health, psychological well-being, and social responsibility. This component of the first MIDUS data collection was designed to understand popular metaphors of personal turmoil and change, such as the "midlife crisis," the "change of life," the "empty nest syndrome," and more. The primary objective of the Psychological Experiences Study was to explore how adults perceive psychological change in their lives. The study used questions derived from John Clausen's definition of "turning points" and other sources to collect data on self-perceived psychological changes involving work, important relationships, views about the self and dreams, beliefs about the midlife crisis, and recent major life events and transitions. This study was a random telephone follow-up of 724 respondents of the original MIDUS random-digit-dial sample. Part 1 of this collection consists of the quantitative data obtained from the telephone interviews. Part 2 includes the open-ended responses to selected questions from the telephone interviews.

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Research Network on Successful Midlife Development

This data collection may not be used for any purpose other than statistical reporting and analysis. Use of these data to learn the identity of any person or establishment is prohibited. To protect respondent privacy, these data for Part 2 are restricted from general dissemination.

To obtain the restricted data, researchers must agree to the terms and conditions of a Restricted Data Use Agreement; completed forms with original signature(s) should be emailed to icpsr-nacda@umich.edu.

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

1998-03 -- 1998-09

1998-03 -- 1998-09

The sample for this data collection was drawn from the original NATIONAL SURVEY OF MIDLIFE DEVELOPMENT IN THE UNITED STATES (MIDUS), 1995-1996 (ICPSR 2760). This collection cannot be linked to the other datasets in the MIDUS series at this time due to inconsistencies with the ID variable.

The principal investigators strongly recommend that users code, alter, mask, or paraphrase the narrative data from Part 2 for publication (these data are restricted from general dissemination). Many participants described unique events that might inadvertently identify them, if published.

MIDUS is the main research activity of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Network on Successful Midlife Development (MIDMAC). Additional information on MIDMAC research projects is provided on the MIDMAC Web site.

Produced by Cornell University Computer Assisted Survey Team, 2000.

The title of this study was changed from Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS): Psychological Experiences Follow-Up Study, 1998, to Midlife in the United States (MIDUS): Psychological Experiences Follow-Up Study, 1998, on May 9, 2017.

The respondents to this study were first interviewed as part of the NATIONAL SURVEY OF MIDLIFE DEVELOPMENT IN THE UNITED STATES (MIDUS), 1995-1996 (ICPSR 2760). MIDUS was based on a nationally representative random-digit-dial (RDD) sample of noninstitutionalized, English-speaking adults, aged 25 to 74, selected from working telephone banks in the coterminous United States. Predesignated households were selected in random replicates, one-fourth of which included a special nonrespondent incentive component. Contact persons were informed that the survey was being carried out through the Harvard Medical School and that it was designed to study health and well-being during the middle years of life. After explaining the study to the informant, a household listing was generated of people in the age range of 25 to 74, and a random respondent was selected. Oversampling of older people and men was achieved by varying the probability of carrying out the interview at this stage as a joint function of the age and sex of the randomly selected respondent. No other person in the household was selected if the respondent did not complete the interview. This study consists of a telephone follow-up of 724 respondents to the MIDUS RDD sample.

The noninstitutionalized, English-speaking population of the coterminous United States aged 25 to 74.


telephone interviews

survey data

The response rate was 82 percent of respondents contacted for the follow-up study.



2005-03-25 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:

  • Performed consistency checks.
  • Standardized missing values.
  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

2006-03-30 File CQ2911.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.

2012-07-12 Created Restricted Data Use Agreement

2018-03-20 This collection is being updated, per request from the PI, to reflect a title change. The corresponding downloadable files are being updated only to reflect the title change, where applicable.

(1) The data should be weighted for analysis. The appropriate weight variable is NFNWT from the original MIDUS survey (ICPSR 2760). The principal investigators recommend that users normalize the weight to produce an N of 724 before applying it to analyses. Part 1 of this data collection includes both the NFNWT weight variable and a normalized weight variable called WEIGHT. Please see the codebook notes for more information about the weight variables. (2) The original Part 1 data file from the principal investigators contained seven duplicate records. These records were dropped by ICPSR in order to create a unique record identifier to facilitate merging the weight variable from the main MIDUS data to the Part 1 data file.


  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions. Restricted data files are not available for direct download from the website; click on the Restricted Data button to learn more.

NACDA logo

This study is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging (NACDA), the aging program within ICPSR. NACDA is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Heath (NIH).