J. Trent Alexander

American Opportunity Study

Research Project Description

The AOS builds upon the Census Bureau's longitudinal data infrastructure, which currently includes major national surveys, administrative records, and the decennial censuses from 1940, 2000, and 2010. These restricted data are available to approved researchers through the Federal Statistical Research Data Centers (FSRDCs). Established in the 1990s and administered by the Census Bureau, the FSRDC network is a government-academic partnership that makes restricted data available via clear protocols at thirty locations around the country.

The AOS will fill a critical gap in this infrastructure between 1940 and 2000. FSRDC researchers can already access nearly-complete microdata files for the 1960 through 1990 censuses, but these files are currently not linkable over time. The Census Bureau never digitized respondent names from these years due to the cost of transcription, and names are essential for record linkage. AOS will manage the difficult and resource-intensive task of recovering the names from the 1960-1990 census images stored on microfilm. After adding names to these files, the AOS team will link these files over time and incorporate the new longitudinal data into the Census Bureau holdings available to FSRDC researchers.

The power of these linked data will be not only in their scope (they will cover the period from 1940-2020) and scale (they will include the entire U.S. population), but also in the ease with which additional files can be linked to these data for analysis. For instance, nearly all survey data and administrative data held at the Census Bureau are routinely integrated into the agency's data linkage infrastructure shortly after they are created or acquired. In addition, approved researchers will be able to bring their own data into the FSRDCs to have them linked and available for use with the longitudinal census data.

Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund (GSPF)
(ID Number: 20171057)

Funding Period: 3/1/2020 to 2/28/2025

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