Retirement History Longitudinal Survey, 1969 (ICPSR 7683)

Principal Investigator(s): Social Security Administration


This longitudinal study is the first in a series of six surveys conducted to investigate the nature of retirement in the United States and the transition to a retirement lifestyle. The first longitudinal study to concentrate on the process of retirement and to include change over a period of time as an object of study, the six surveys in the Retirement History Longitudinal Survey (RHLS) aimed at learning in detail the connections between worklife characteristics, retirement timing, and the determinants of style, quality, and conduct of retirement. This study was meant to gather first-year data as the baseline for future trend analysis on the sample. To provide information on pre-retirement lives and attitudes of respondents, questions were asked regarding labor force history, retirement and retirement plans, health, household, family and social activities, income, assets, and debts for respondents and their spouses. Surviving members of this original 1969 sample were interviewed subsequently at two-year intervals. Labor force questions in this baseline survey covered the respondent's occupation and attitudes toward that occupation, number of hours worked, salary, and unemployment and job-seeking behavior. Information on retirement plans was also elicited, including whether and when the respondents planned to retire, reasons for retirement, whether they had made retirement plans, such as moving residences or working after retirement, expected expenses and resources, workplace pension plans, amount of benefits, Social Security benefits, and subjective attitudes toward retirement. Respondents who were already partially or fully retired were asked to report retrospectively on retirement age, reasons for retirement, and whether they had planned for retirement prior to actually retiring. Questions on health experience pertained to the calendar year prior to the interview, and included receipts and costs of physical examinations and dentist visits, hospitalization, prescription and non-prescription medicines, other medical supplies and services, health insurance coverage and other resources for payment of medical expenses, and a measure of the respondents' own physical health. Questions were asked concerning activity and income, including proximity and frequency of contact with close relatives, and receipt of financial support from relatives. Information on food and housing, transportation, gifts, and travel expenses was also gathered to provide a measure of changes in retirement lifestyle. Demographic items specify race, sex, age, marital status, education, income, benefits amount, assets, debts, number of children and children attending school, and household composition and relationship. Proxy respondents were not allowed to answer any questions in this survey, with the exception of spouses who could answer questions concerning spousal labor force history.

Series: Retirement History Longitudinal Survey Series

Access Notes

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Study Description


Social Security Administration. RETIREMENT HISTORY LONGITUDINAL SURVEY, 1969. Conducted by U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census/Social Security Administration, Office of Research and Statistics. 2nd ICPSR ed. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [producer and distributor], 2002.

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Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    health insurance, health status, job history, life plans, older workers, pension plans, personal finances, retirees, retirement, retirement adjustment, retirement income, retirement planning, Social Security, social life

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 1969

Date of Collection:   

  • 1969

Universe:    Men of all marital status categories in the United States born between 1905-1911, or aged 58-63 as of March 1, 1969. Women born between 1905-1911 without husbands were also included in the universe.

Data Type(s):    survey data

Data Collection Notes:

(1) The data file contains weights, which must be used in any analysis. (2) The data collection instrument is provided by ICPSR as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided on the ICPSR Web site.


Sample:    National multistage probability sample of 11,153 persons in the United States in 1969. The first (1969) wave used the same sampling frame as that applied by the United States Bureau of the Census for the Current Population Survey (CPS). Sample members were persons who lived in households that had participated in CPS before February 1969. In subsequent waves, attempts were made to locate and reinterview original respondents. If the original respondent had died in the intervening period, a full interview was conducted with the surviving spouse, where applicable. To qualify as a surviving spouse, an individual must have been married to and living with the original respondent at the time of the previous interview and not have remarried. Interviews were conducted biennially through 1979 when sample members reached ages 68-73.

Data Source:

telephone interviews

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:

  • Performed consistency checks.


Original ICPSR Release:   1984-03-18

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