HS&B Midlife Follow-Up

High School & Beyond (HS&B) is a long-running scientific study of Americans who were high school sophomores or seniors in 1980. The purpose of the study is to understand how educational experiences and schooling opportunities shape the way that people’s lives unfold—in terms of their jobs, income, health, cognitive functioning, and families.

Image of high school graduatesThe project was originally created and paid for by the National Center for Education Statistics  and operated by NORC at the University of Chicago. Since 2012, the project has been directed by a team of researchers at the University of Minnesota (John Robert Warren), the University of Texas—Austin (Chandra Muller), the University of Wisconsin—Madison (Eric Grodsky), and Columbia University (Jennifer Manly) with funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Alfred P. Sloan  Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the Institute of Education Sciences. The project is still operated by NORC at the University of Chicago, and the survey data are still distributed by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Since 1980, HS&B has included a nationally representative sample of about 26,800 people who were high school sophomores or seniors in 1980. Participants were first interviewed in school in 1980. They were then re-contacted in 1982, 1984, 1986, 1992 (sophomores only), and 2013-2015. A new 2021 follow-up of the cohort is currently under way. The early surveys collected extensive information about educational experiences and schooling opportunities; various kinds of skills, interests, and goals; family and demographic backgrounds; early life health; and education, career, and family outcomes in early adulthood. The 2014-2015 surveys collected information about midlife work, family, and health. The 2021 HS&B follow-up focuses on thinking and memory, health, careers, and family; it also includes information collected as part of a home health visit.

All data and information from HS&B are stored in such a way that no participants’ names or other private information can be connected to their survey answers. Only scientists who agree to follow strict security protocols can access the data, and they are forbidden from knowing the names or identities of HS&B sample members.

This website describes the 2014-2015 and 2021 midlife follow-ups of the HS&B cohort.  It also includes public versions of documentation from these follow-ups; information about the project’s leadership and funders; links to material from earlier HS&B surveys; and a detailed HS&B bibliography.

If you are an HS&B sample member and have questions about your 2021 survey, please contact Steve Smith at NORC at smith-stephen@norc.org or (312) 759-4023. If you are a researcher interested in analyzing HS&B data from the 1980 through 2013-2015 surveys, please see the security procedures and protocols here.

HS&B Midlife Follow-Up: 2014-2015

The 2014-2015 HS&B midlife follow-up study re-interviewed the members of the HS&B sophomore and senior panels by telephone, web, and mail.

The main purpose of the 2014-2015 midlife study was to understand the long-term effects of education on midlife work and health outcomes. Information gathered from the sample members in high school and the early adult years can be coupled with  information collected in 2013-2015 about cognitive and non-cognitive skills, work and occupations, health, family roles, and retirement planning to provide researchers with a robust data resource for studying the foundational pillars of older Americans’ labor force participation decisions and health in midlife.

Data from the 2014-2015 follow-up of HS&B sophomores is now available through the NCES Restricted-Use Data Licenses; data collected from seniors in 2013-2014 will be available soon.

The 2014-2015 midlife follow-up study was funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the U.S Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences (IES), and the Spencer Foundation.  For more details on our funding, please go to the Funders page.

HS&B Midlife Follow-Up: 2021

Image of middle aged workers

The newest HS&B follow-up survey—conducted by telephone and internet—collects current information on sample members’ thinking and memory, health, labor force experiences, and family roles. Combined with 1980-2015 HS&B data, these new data will facilitate innovative research on the connections between education, health, labor force experiences, family, and cognitive aging as they unfold over the life course. In 2021, study respondents will also have the opportunity to participate in a home health visit at which they may choose to undergo measurements of blood pressure, height and weight and to donate samples of blood and saliva for analyses. A major contribution of the 2021 follow-up will be data for understanding the long-term impact of early life social and educational experiences on later-life cognitive functioning; the biological pathways through which such effects operate; and group differences in those processes.

The 2021 midlife follow-up study is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Alzheimer’s Association.  For more details on our funding, please go to the Funders page.


This material is based upon work supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation under grant number 2012-10-27; the National Science Foundation under grants numbers HRD 1348527, HRD1348557, DRL 1420691, DRL 1420572, and DRL 1420330; the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) under grant numbers R305U140001 and R305U180002; the National Institute on Aging under grant number R01AG058719-01A1, the Alzheimer’s Association under grant number SG-20-717567, and the Spencer Foundation under grant numbers 201500075 and 20160116.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or any of our other funders. For more details on our funding, please go to our Funders page.


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