Add Health Parent Study

The Add Health Parent Study Phase 1 (2015 - 2017) gathered social, behavioral and health survey data in 2015-2017 on a probability sample of the parents of the Add Health respondents who were originally interviewed in 1995. Data for 2,013 Wave I parents, ranging in age from 50-80 years and representing 2,247 Add Health sample members, are available. Additionally, 988 current spouse/partner interviews are available.

Add Health Parent Study Phase 2, which has received a five-year, $25.3 million National Institute on Aging (NIA) award, will increase the sample of Non-Hispanic (NH) Black and Hispanic parents (and their current spouse/partners) represented in AHPS to result in the first nationally representative sample of adult children (ages 40-49), with longitudinal data from the parent generation (ages 58-90). Phase 2 data collection of AD/ADRD assessments and DNA will make possible, for the first time, research on racial/ethnic disparities across two generations with social, behavioral, health, cognitive, and genomic data from both adult children and their parents.

Survey Objectives
The Add Health Parent survey was designed to improve the understanding of the role that families play through socioeconomic channels in the health and well-being of the older, parent generation, and that of their offspring. This unique dataset supports the analyses of intergenerational transmissions of (dis)advantage that has not been possible to-date. The Add Health Parent Study data permits the examination of both short-term and long-term linkages and interactions between parents and their adult children.

The Add Health Parent Study survey interview is a comprehensive survey of Add Health parents’ family relations, education, religious beliefs, physical and mental health, social support, and community involvement experiences. In addition, survey data contains cognitive assessments, a medications log linked to a medications database lookup table, and household financial information collection. The survey also includes permission for GPS data linkage, Medicare/Medicaid data linkages and housing data linkages and includes data from a Family Health History Leave-Behind questionnaire. Interviews were conducted with parents’ spouse/partner when available.

Research Domains
Research domains targeted in the survey and research questions that may be addressed using Add Health Parent Study data include:

  • Health Behaviors and Risks - Many health conditions and behaviors run in families; for example, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and substance abuse. How are health risks and behaviors transmitted across generations or clustered within families? How can we use information on the parents’ health and health behavior to better understand the determinants of their (adult) children’s health trajectories?
  • Cognitive Functioning and Non-Cognitive Personality Traits - What role does the intergenerational transmission of personality and locus of control play in generating intergenerational persistence in education, family status, income and health? How do the personality traits of parents and children—and how they interact—influence the extent and quality of intergenerational relationships and the prevalence of assistance across generations?
  • Decision-Making, Expectations, and Risk Preferences - Do intergenerational correlations in risk preferences represent the intergenerational transmission of preferences? If so, are the transmission mechanisms a factor in biological and environmental vulnerabilities? Does the extent of genetic liability vary in response to both family-specific and generation-specific environmental pressures?
  • Family Support, Relationship Quality, and Ties of Obligation - How does family complexity affect intergenerational obligations and the strength of relationship ties? As parents near retirement: What roles do they play in their children’s lives and their children in their lives? What assistance are they providing to their adult children and grandchildren? What do they receive in return? And how do these ties vary with divorce, remarriage and familial estrangement?
  • Economic Status and Capacities - What are the economic capacities of the parents’ generation as they reach their retirement years? How have fared through the wealth and employment shocks of the Great Recession? Are parents able to provide for their own financial need? And, do they have the time and financial resources to help support their children and grandchildren and are they prepared to do so?

Principal Investigators
Naomi Duke, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Sociology at Duke University
Kathleen Mullan Harris, James E. Haar Distinguished Professor of Sociology at UNC-Chapel Hill
Joseph Hotz, Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Economics at Duke University
Krista Perreira, Professor of Social Medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill

The Add Health Parent Study (Phase 1: 2015 - 2017) restricted-use data is now available through the Add Health Restricted-Use Data ContractAdd Health Parent Study Public Use Data is available for download though ICPSR.

Add Health Parent Study Overview and Initial Findings (2019)

The Parent Study gratefully acknowledges the support of the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under the following Awards: The Add Health Parent Study: Phase 1 (Award RO1AG042794), Phase 2 (Award R01AG084071) and Locating the Parents of Add Health (Award 21 AG042663-01).

Data Collection Category
Longitudinal Surveys
Last Year of Data
Birth Year
Age Range at Last Data Collection
Biomarkers/ Administrative or Other Data Elements
Primary Funding Agency
Duke Principal Investigator(s)