The Panel Study of Income Dynamics: overview, recent innovations, and potential for life course research


  • Katherine A McGonagle Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan
  • Robert F Schoeni Institute for Social Research, Department of Economics, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan
  • Narayan Sastry Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan
  • Vicki A Freedman Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan



panel study, life course, data collection, human development, time use, young adulthood, aging


Spanning over four decades, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) is the world’s longest running household panel survey.  The resulting data archive presents research opportunities for breakthroughs in understanding the connections between economic status, health and well-being across generations and over the life course.  The long panel, genealogical design, and broad content of the data represent a unique opportunity for a multi-perspective study of life course evolution and change within families over multiple generations. Based on relational data structures and advanced web-based archiving and delivery tools, the PSID has a publicly available web-based facility for users worldwide to create customized data extracts and codebooks based on nearly 70,000 variables from over 70,000 individuals over 44 years.  This paper provides an overview of the PSID and its supplemental studies, the Disability and Use of Time Supplement, the Child Development Supplement, and the Transition into Adulthood study, and describes features and recent enhancements that have increased the potential of the archive for studying life course development.