Frequently Asked Questions
I can't find the aging study I am interested in on the Gateway. What studies do you include?
We work hard to include all longitudinal Health and Retirement studies as part of the Gateway. We focus on studies which were harmonized ex-ante with the family of international Health and Retirement studies. For studies currently included in the Gateway, see our Surveys at a Glance page. If there is a particular study you would like us to include, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am interested in using a study which I see on the Gateway but I don't see a Harmonized version of this study. What studies do you Harmonize?
We are constantly updating our existing Harmonized datasets and adding new Harmonized datasets. If you don't see a Harmonized version of a study which is important to your research, please write to us at email@example.com and we will provide you our best estimate of when that Harmonized dataset will be available.
How can I register for the original study so that I can gain access to the study data and Harmonized datasets?
The easiest way to register for most of the HRS family studies is actually on this website. First, you should register for the Gateway to Global Aging Data by selecting Register on the top right of any page. If you have already registered, then make sure you're logged in to the Gateway website. Once logged in, go to the Download Data and Links page, and at the top of the page is a link that says "To register and access data for any of the HRS-family studies, click here". Once you have clicked the link, you can select the studies you're interested in, fill out the information, and submit the form. Once submitted, you may be sent an email with documents that you need to print, sign, and email back to the email(s) provided in the email text. If you do not want to use this time-saving tool, you can also follow the links on the top row of the Download Data and Links page to the website of the study you're interested in and register there.
Where do I download the data?
The Gateway does not generally provide data to download. Most studies included in the Gateway distribute their own data and the Harmonized datasets we create. Instead, The Gateways seeks to provide as much information as possible about each survey's questionnaires, methodology, design, and about their similarities and differences. We also provide the codebooks and Stata creation code for each Harmonized dataset on our website. For links to download data or the Harmonized datasets please see our Download Data and Links page. The Gateway does distribute study data for the Longitudinal Aging Study in India (LASI) and the Costa Rican Longevity and Healthy Aging Study (CRELES). To download LASI data, see our LASI Downloads page. To download the Harmonized CRELES, visit our CRELES Downloads page.
How can I access a Harmonized dataset?
We currently produce internationally harmonized datasets for many studies. Many of these Harmonized datasets are distributed by the original study along with their study data. For studies that do not distribute Harmonized datasets, we distribute a Stata program for users to download which transforms the original survey data into the Harmonized dataset. For more information on downloading a Harmonized dataset or the Stata code to create a Harmonized dataset, please see our Download Data and Links page.
Do you provide Harmonized data in formats other than Stata?
Currently the Harmonized HRS, Harmonized MHAS, Harmonized ELSA, Harmonized CRELES, Harmonized TILDA, and Harmonized LASI are distributed in Stata, SAS, and SPSS datasets. Any Harmonized dataset which is generated using Stata Creation code or is downloaded in Stata format can be converted for use in other statistical packages using a program such as Stat/Transfer. If you do not have access to Stat/Transfer, you may be able to read the .dta dataset into your stat package using an “import” or “get” function. When reading a .dta dataset into another package, it is best to first save the dataset in a Stata version 12 format using the command saveold.
The Stata code I downloaded from the Gateway uses different file names than the data I have. Why is this?
The Gateway's Stata Creation code pulls original survey variables directly into Stata's working memory to create Harmonized variables. To pull in the correct original survey variable from the survey data requires the specification of the exact file name of each original survey dataset. Many studies update the dataset names variable locations between release versions. If you are given a 'file not found' error message when running Stata, you may not be using the most recent release of the survey data. Please make sure you have the latest version of the survey data. If you still encounter an error, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help you as quickly as possible.
My version of Stata won't let me open the Harmonized dataset because there are too many variables. What can I do?
Some versions of Stata only allow users to read fewer variables into working memory than are in some of our Harmonized datasets (e.g. Stata/IE). All versions of Stata will allow users to pull select variables into Stata from a dataset with more variables than it could read at once. You can identify the variables you would like to use by searching or browsing for your items of interest on the Surveys at a Glance page, or you can download and search through the codebook that accompanies the Harmonized dataset on the Download Data and Links page. You can create a smaller dataset for your personal use by updating the variable names, filepath, and dataset name in the following Stata code: use variable1 variable2 variable3 using "filepath\H_dataset.dta".
I see a question in the questionnaire that does not have a harmonized variable. How can I merge the harmonized dataset with the original study data?
It is very simple to merge the Harmonized datasets with the original study data using the unique identifiers employed by the study. You can identify the variables from the original study data you would like to use by searching or browsing for your items of interest on the Surveys at a Glance page, or you can look through the original survey questionnaire or datasets. In Stata you can merge in these orginal survey variables with the Harmonized data using the following Stata code: merge 1:1 studyID using "filepath\dataset_name.dta", keepusing(variable1 variable2 variable3). It is important to remember that all Harmonized datasets are individual-level, where each record is one person, but original survey data files can also be couple, household, community, or child-level datasets. All possible identifiers from each study are kept as part of the Harmonized dataset to allow for the merger to original survey datafiles which are not necessarily also individual-level. If the original survey dataset is not individual-level, then you will need to change the merge from 1:1 to m:1, 1:m, or m:m and use the appropriate identifier rather than the unique individual identifier. This method would also work when merging variables between the Harmonized HRS, RAND HRS, and RAND HRS Family datasets
What is the difference between the RAND HRS and the Harmonized HRS?
For our purposes, the RAND HRS can be thought of as the original harmonized dataset for the HRS, which was created and is maintained at the RAND Corporation. We, at the Gateway to Global Aging Data, have built our other Harmonized datasets (Harmonized MHAS, ELSA, SHARE, CRELES, KLoSA, JSTAR, TILDA, CHARLS, LASI) using the RAND HRS as a model and basis for comparison (as you can see in the Harmonized codebooks, we have a section for each group of variables titled "Differences with the RAND HRS"). As such, the variables in our Harmonized datasets have been created to be comparable with the similarly named variables in the RAND HRS wherever possible. If there are differences in how the Harmonized variable was created or if the variables are similar but not strictly comparable, we explain that in each Harmonized codebook.
The Harmonized HRS is different from the RAND HRS because it contains variables that the RAND HRS doesn’t include. As we have worked on the different Harmonized datasets and heard from researchers and users, we became aware that there were many potential HRS variables that would be helpful, but that weren't created for the RAND HRS. To address this opportunity, we created these new variables for the HRS and released them in the Harmonized HRS. We plan to add as many variables into each of our Harmonized datasets to be comparable with the Harmonized HRS over time.
Instructions for Commons Tasks
Search for relevant survey items or Harmonized variables
1. Go to the Surveys at a Glance page and select "search all surveys by keyword". Filter your search results by selecting specific studies, harmonized datasets, or survey years.
2. Once your results have appeared, you can use the arrows on the left or right of the module name to navigate between modules, and the tabs on top to navigate between different studies, years, or harmonized datasets. When using this tool, you can use the navigation bar above the results to go between screens rather than using your browser's back button.
- Find Harmonized variables for common topics
1. Go to the Surveys at a Glance page and select "search harmonized data by sub-topic". Filter your search results by selecting specific harmonized datasets or survey years, and select a sub-topic from any one of our many modules.
2. Once your results have appeared, you can use the arrows on the left or right of the module name to navigate between modules, and the tabs on top to navigate between different harmonized datasets. When using this tool, you can use the navigation bar above the results to go between screens rather than using your browser's back button.
Browsing for relevant survey items
1. Select your survey of interest on the Surveys at a Glance page.
2. Select the module which contains your relevant survey items.
3. You can view the survey items within the module in a list, flowchart, or codebook format. When using this tool, please use the navigation bar above the results to go between screens rather than using your browser's back button.
Create a new graph or table
1. Go to the Graphs and Tables page and select "Make Selections". Select your topic of interest, any or all countries or years, and up to two separate subpopulations. Please note that if you choose an individual-level topic, then you can select from individual-level subpopulations, and if you select a household-level topic, then you can select from household-level subpopulations. Once you have made your selections, select "GO".
2. Once the graph has appeared, you can click a subpopulation in the legend to hid or show the estimates for that subpopulation, drag over an area to zoom in, or hover over a line, bar, or confidence interval to see an estimate for the subpopulation. You can print or download the graph by clicking on the three horizontal lines in the top right. All applicable notes about the data, including the Harmonized dataset and weights used, appear in a gray box below the graph.
3. You can view the data in a table format by clicking on the "Table" tab on the top left. You can download the table by selecting the Excel or PDF options on the top left beneath the tabs.
4. You can also view the data in a map format by clicking on the "Map" tab on the top left. You can click to select different subpopulations, you can zoom in or out, and hover over the country to view an estimate. You can print or download the map by clicking on the three horizontal lines in the top right. Please note that the map will show estimates for all countries with available data for that particular year.
Search for relevant publications
1. Go to the Publications Based on Surveys page and select by survey or topic, or search by title, author, source, and year.
2. Clicking on the green plus sign to the left of the publication will provide additional information, including links directly to the article or to Google Scholar if possible.
3. If you would like to export the publications you find, expand the publications you would like to export by clicking on the green plus sign to the left of the publication of interest. Once you have selected all the publications you want, scroll to the bottom of the page, select a format for your exported file on the bottom left, then click "Export".
Download of the LASI Pilot micro data requires agreement to following conditions:
Make no attempts to identify study participants.
Not to transfer LASI Public Release data to any third party other than staff or students for whom you are directly responsible.
Not to allow others to use your username and password to access this site.
To certify the destruction of any downloaded Public Release data file as well as any data files derived from the downloaded file when requested to do so by USC.
Report immediately to USC at email@example.com any disclosure of study participant identity as well as any discovery of flaws or errors in the data or documentation files.
Notify USC through use of the update function provided at this site or by electronic mail directed to firstname.lastname@example.org of changes in your electronic mail address, postal address, telephone number or organizational affiliation.
Inform our team of any written analysis using data from the LASI Pilot micro data or information from the LASI Pilot micro data documentation by sending an email to email@example.com. We also ask users to include the following acknowledgement in their written work: "This analysis uses data or information from the LASI Pilot micro data and documentation. The development and release of the LASI Pilot Study was funded by the National Institute on Ageing / National Institute of Health (R21AG032572, R03AG043052, and R01 AG030153).”