We propose to continue the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) with home interviews, 52 years after the high school graduation of the original 10,317 participants. We want to exploit the unique scientific value of the WLS to pursue a broad agenda of research on social, psychological, biological, and economic factors in health and aging. In the context of the deinstitutionalization and individualization of retirement, new survey and biomedical data, along with the life-long data of the WLS, will resolve old questions and open new areas of interdisciplinary inquiry in life course research and in health and aging policy. We propose in-home interviews of 8,500 surviving men and women who were first surveyed as seniors in high school in 1957 and were followed up in 1964, 1975, 1993, and 2003-06;they will be about 70 years old when re-contacted. The in-home interviews will include a computer-assisted personal interview (CAPI) that will update histories of employment and retirement, work and post-retirement activities and conditions, pension coverage, earnings, income, wealth, and economic transfers;measures of family structure, family relations, and stressful life events;health, illness, disability, psychological well-being, and mental health and illness;health-related behaviors;health insurance, access to health care, and contacts with the health care system;social and civic participation, exchange relationships, intellectual and social engagement, and social isolation;and medical, legal, religious, and psychological preparations for the end of life. In addition, we will conduct physical performance assessments and collect biomarkers;assess cognitive functioning computing skills, and decision-making;obtain a Medicare record waiver;and leave-behind a self-administered health questionnaire. The WLS is unique as a large scale longitudinal study of adults and their families that covers more than half a century. As in the past, WLS data will be released to the research community as soon as they have been collected, cleaned, and documented.

Public Health Relevance

The Wisconsin Longitudinal Study is unique as a large scale longitudinal study of the life course of adults and their families that covers more than half a century. It is a valuable public resource for studies of aging and the life course;intergenerational relationships;family relations;disabilities and mental illness among adult children;long-term effects of education and cognitive ability;occupational careers;physical and mental well-being;health literacy;cognitive change;and morbidity and mortality. Research using these data will focus on the capacity of individuals to make good choices about their investments, medical care, insurance, and other domains of increased uncertainty and personal responsibility.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Research Project (R01)
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Social Sciences and Population Studies Study Section (SSPS)
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Patmios, Georgeanne E
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University of Wisconsin Madison
Social Sciences
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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