Researchers from multiple disciplines advocate the importance of understanding the role of early-life factors in outcomes in midlife and old age. Education, early family life, childhood health, personality, and lifestyle have been identified as factors that shape the life course trajectories of individuals and subgroups within populations. The scarcity of longitudinal panels that span childhood, young adulthood, mid-life, and old age is a major research limitation. The 26 years of life history collected by the Longitudinal Study of American Youth (LSAY) offers a unique opportunity to examine questions about the influences of early-life factors in members of the Generation X cohort. Since 1987, the LSAY has tracked a national probability sample of 7th and 10th grade students into adulthood. This proposal seeks funding to (1) maintain this panel as they move into early midlife and extend the interview protocol to harmonize with the Health and Retirement Study (HRS);and (2) examine three characteristics that distinguish this cohort from previous cohorts: their education-work trajectories, financial challenges, and exposure to technology. Recognizing the value of extending the decades of previous work and federal investment, the first objective of this proposal to continue data collection with the Generation X cohort of the LSAY and to extend it into the Longitudinal Study of American Life (LASL) to monitor the transition from young adulthood into mid-life and to set the stage for subsequent tracking into pre-retirement and later life. This work will build conceptual and empirical bridges from the existing LSAY data base of measures of earlier life choices using items from the NIA-supported HRS and it will improve our understanding of the dynamic processes that occur during mid-life. The second objective of the proposed work is to examine three characteristics that distinguish the Generation X LSAY cohorts from previous cohorts: (1) the impact of education on career choices and on cognitive choices during mid-life and about pre-retirement and retirement decisions, (2) the influence of mid-life financial pressures on Generation X adults associated with financing the college educations of their children and the possible financial needs of aging parents, and (3) the impact of growing up in the Electronic Era on information acquisition and life course decision making in later adulthood.

Public Health Relevance

The 26 years of life history collected by the Longitudinal Study of American Youth (LSAY) offers a unique opportunity to examine questions about the influences of early-life factors in members of the Generation X cohort. This proposal seeks funding to (1) maintain this panel as they move into early midlife and extend the interview protocol to harmonize with the Health and Retirement Study (HRS);and (2) examine three characteristics that distinguish this cohort from previous cohorts: their education- work trajectories, financial challenges, and exposure to technology.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
1R01AG049624-01
Application #
8755169
Study Section
(SSPB)
Program Officer
Phillips, John
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
1
Fiscal Year
2014
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Name
University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Department
Miscellaneous
Type
Organized Research Units
DUNS #
City
Ann Arbor
State
MI
Country
United States
Zip Code
48109