• Contesting the Streets
  • Volume 18, Number 1
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga

Data Shop: Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics To Analyze Housing Decisions, Dynamics, and Effects

Katherine McGonagle
Narayan Sastry
University of Michigan

Data Shop
Data Shop, a department of
Cityscape, presents short articles or notes on the uses of data in housing and urban research. Through this department, the Office of Policy Development and Research introduces readers to new and overlooked data sources and to improved techniques in using well-known data. The emphasis is on sources and methods that analysts can use in their own work. Researchers often run into knotty data problems involving data interpretation or manipulation that must be solved before a project can proceed, but they seldom get to focus in detail on the solutions to such problems. If you have an idea for an applied, data-centric note of no more than 3,000 words, please send a one-paragraph abstract to david.a.vandenbroucke@hud.gov for consideration.

The Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) is the world’s longest running household panel survey. It started in 1968 and has followed the same families—and their descendants— for nearly 50 years. PSID was conducted annually from 1968 through 1997 and has been conducted biennially since 1997. As of 2015, 39 waves of data have been collected. In 2015, interviews were completed with more than 9,000 households and information was collected on about 25,000 household members. PSID has achieved high wave-towave response rates throughout most of its history. Since the beginning of the study, detailed information has been collected on family composition, income, assets and debt, public program participation, and housing. At the beginning of the recent housing crisis, PSID began collecting information about mortgage distress and foreclosure activity. PSID currently includes several major supplemental studies. The Child Development Supplement and the Transition into Adulthood Supplement collect detailed information about behavior and outcomes among children and young adults in PSID families, such as educational achievement, health, time use, family formation, and housingrelated decisions among young adults. PSID data are publicly available free of charge to researchers; some data available only under contract to qualified researchers allow linkage with various administrative databases and include information such as census tract and block of residence that can be used to describe neighborhood characteristics. PSID data have been widely used to study topics of major interest to Cityscape readers, including housing decisionmaking, housing expenditures and financing, residential mobility and migration, and the effects of neighborhood characteristics on a variety of measures of child and family well-being. This article provides an overview of PSID and its housing- and neighborhood-related measures. We briefly describe studies using PSID on housing-related topics. Finally, we point readers to resources needed to begin working with PSID data.


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