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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter October 31, 2017

The Value of the Health and Retirement Study for Health Economics Research

Courtney C. Coile and Nicole Maestas


We assess the value of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) for research in health economics by conducting a survey of leading health economists. We analyze the survey responses to provide an assessment of the strengths of the HRS for this kind of research, as well as the obstacles that prevent it from being used more widely. We offer some suggestions as to how these obstacles might be overcome through changes to the survey and actions to increase survey awareness and access.


This paper was prepared at the request of the Health and Retirement Study’s Data Monitoring Committee. We are grateful to Katherine Baicker for her helpful suggestions on the paper and to the following individuals for generously sharing their views on the HRS: Jason Abaluck, John Cawley, David Cutler, Angus Deaton, Carlos Dobkin, Jonathan Gruber, Amanda Kowalski, Adriana Lleras-Muney, Lee Lockwood, Ellen Meara, Matthew Notowidigdo, Mark Shepard, Dan Silverman, Kosali Simon, Jonathan Skinner, Benjamin Sommers, Courtney Van Houtven, and Heidi Williams. Comments shared with us by these individuals and used in this paper have in some cases been minimally edited to protect the anonymity of the author or for clarity.

  1. Conflict of interest: None declared.

  2. Research funding: None declared.

Published Online: 2017-10-31

©2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston