Some of the most important open questions in aging relate to the impact of longitudinal and intergenerational factors. But documenting the role of early-life and intergenerational determinants of health and aging is limited by the dearth of large-scale micro-data containing this information. This is especially true for understudied populations such as women and minority groups. Our research objective is to add critical information on cause of death to the new large-scale data resource, the Longitudinal, Intergenerational Family Electronic Micro-database (LIFE-M). Funded by the National Science Foundation, LIFE-M links millions of vital records (birth, marriage, and death certificates) to decennial censuses over four generations and 120 years for five states. LIFE-M is a representative sample of cohorts aging and dying in the last 25 years of the 20th century and includes crucial early-life and intergenerational information. Enhancing the LIFE-M with cause of death will facilitate path-breaking research on the relationship of longevity and cause of death with demographic, socio-economic, and early-life environmental factors for family networks across four generations. We will achieve this objective by pursuing the following specific aims: (1) We will use new ?Smart Indexing? technology to digitize and cross-validate hand-written cause-of-death information; (2) We will link digitized causes of death to the LIFE-M infrastructure and create extensive documentation for this new variable for public use; and (3) We will publicly release the cause-of-death variable and documentation with the LIFE-M dataset, meta- data, and supporting documentation on ICPSR in 2020. The proposed project will also have broader impacts. In addition to contributing a significant new data resource that can be added to Minnesota Population Center's historical linked censuses and the Census Longitudinal Infrastructure Project (CLIP), this project's methodological innovations in script digitization will enhance on-going and future data infrastructure initiatives. Both contributions promise to transform the research frontier in population health and aging in the United States.
This project contributes to public health knowledge by adding cause-of-death information to a new intergenerational and longitudinal dataset (LIFE-M). These data will allow much more research on the long- term determinants of health and aging, including a deeper understanding the intergenerational and early-life origins of later-life diseases and mortality in today's aging population.