Documentation » Experimental Modules

HRS 2012 HRS 2010 HRS 2008 HRS 2006 HRS 2004 HRS 2002 HRS 2000 HRS 1998 HRS 1996 AHEAD 1995 HRS 1994 AHEAD 1993 HRS 1992

HRS 2012 Core

Module 1: Prospect Theory

Module 2: Utilization of Home-and Community-Based Service, and Life Space

Module 3: Technology Use: Barriers and Benefits

Module 4: Nutrition Assessment

Module 5: Worksite Health Promotion

Module 6: AD Diagnosis and Financial Planning

Module 7: Long Term Care Insurance

Module 8: Stereotype Threat & Unfair treatment

Module 9: Human-Animal Interaction

Module 10: Happiness

Module 11: Hedonic Wellbeing

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HRS 2010 Core

Module 1: Possessions

Module 2: Health literacy

Module 3: Alzheimers

Module 4: Disaster preparation

Module 5: Personality

Module 6: Pain

Module 7: Credit cards

Module 8: Financial literacy

Module 9: Proxy reports

Module 10: Altruism

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HRS 2008 Core

Module 2: Annuities and lump sum payments

Module 3: Breast and prostate cancer screening

Module 4: Weight history

Module 5: Quality of care

Module 6: Coping strategies

Module 7: Transfers

Module 8: Financial sophistication and investment decision making

Module 9: Retirement behavior

Module 10: Dental health, access to care and utilization

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HRS 2006 Core

Module 1: Financial preparedness

Module 2: Risk aversion

Module 3: Parents' and siblings' health and long-term care use

Module 4: Valuation of health insurance benefits
Asks whether respondent would drop employer-paid health insurance coverage if given an increase in current pay.

Module 5: Medicare valuation
Opinions on Medicare coverage options.

Module 6: Characteristics of the home environment

Module 7: Subjective probabilities of health-related events

Module 8: Informed consent with Alzheimer's disease patients
Elicits opinions about research on people with Alzheimer's with respect to informed consent issues.

Module 9: Cognition - number series
The purpose of this module was to broaden the content domain currently assessed in the HRS to include “fluid intelligence.” The specific purpose was to see if we could achieve reasonably informative test scores by using a small subset of items from the Number Series task adapted from the new WJ III using adaptive testing methodology. The task administered in HRS 2006 was identical to the one included in HRS 2004. More detail about the rationale for, development of, and administration details of this task is available in the Ofstedal, Fisher, & Herzog (2005) HRS Cognition documentation report (http://hrsonline.isr.umich.edu/docs/userg/dr-006.pdf).

Module 10: Cognition - retrieval fluency
The purpose of this module was to broaden the content domain currently assessed in the HRS to include “fluid intelligence.” The specific purpose was to see if we could achieve reasonably informative test scores by using a retrieval fluency task adapted from the Woodcock Johnson III test battery. A random sub-sample of HRS respondents was selected and asked to complete the Retrieval Fluency module after the standard HRS survey. Half of the sample for this module came from the sample that was selected to receive the number series module in 2004; the other half was selected randomly from the remaining sample of self-respondents in 2006.

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HRS 2004 Core

Module 1: Risk Aversion
This module repeats previous module questions about large risk aversion to be paired with questions about small risk aversion asked in the core.

Module 2: Annuities and Retirement System Knowledge
The sample included respondents who were younger than 65 at the time of interview. Questions are designed to acquire respondents’ knowledge about eligibility requirements for their Social Security benefits based on their own work history, whether the benefits are adjusted for cost of living, and the expected amount of benefits. Respondents are also asked if they would forgo some of their monthly benefits for alternative amounts of lump-sum payment at age 65.

Module 3: Secondary Causes of Disability

Module 4: Asset Ownership

Module 5: Probability Alternative to Bracketing

Module 6: Loneliness, Stress, and Social Support/Burden
This module assesses negative well-being in three of its dimensions. It has twice the sample size of others, hence it also takes the place of module 7. The questions in this module ask about respondents' feelings of loneliness and about the support they receive from their spouse or partner, other household members, and friends.

Module 8: Retirement Planning
Financial Planning for Retirement: The purpose of this module is to find out how respondents are preparing for retirement. Some of the questions in this module are a repeat of the questions in section K of Wave 1.

Module 9: Norms on Transfer Behavior

Module 10: Occupational Health

Module 11: Arthritis and Health Behaviors

Module 12: Cognition
The purpose of this module was to broaden the content domain currently assessed in the HRS to include “fluid intelligence.” The specific purpose was to see if we could achieve reasonably informative test scores by using a small subset of items from the Number Series task adapted from the new WJ III using adaptive testing methodology. More detail about the rationale for, development of, and administration details of this task is available in the HRS/AHEAD Report "Documentation of Cognitive Functioning Measures in the Health and Retirement Study" (DR-006), Ofstedal, Fisher, and Herzog (2005).

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HRS 2002 Core

Module 1: Self-assessed health utilities
Module 1 asks for a self-rating of health between 0 (death) and 100 (perfect health for your age/a 20yr old). It then uses bracket-like techniques to assess willingness to trade years of life for perfect health, based on comparing two fictional persons with health similar to respondent .

Module 2: Willingness to pay for disease prevention
This module assesses willingness to pay (dollars) for prevention of cancer or Alzheimer's disease.

Module 3: Restless leg syndrome, night leg cramps, and neck and shoulder pain
Module 3 measures symptoms of restless leg syndrome (associated with sleep problems and health consequences of sleep problems) and of neck and shoulder pain.

Module 4: Risk aversion
This module repeats previous module questions about large risk aversion to be paired with questions about small risk aversion asked in the core.

Module 5: Internet use
This module asks about use of computers and of the Internet on the respondent's current or previous job, and/or at home. For those who use the Internet, there are additional questions about what non-job-related things they do on the Internet.

Module 6: Loneliness, stress and social support/social burden
This module assesses negative well-being in three of its dimensions. It has twice the sample size of others, hence it also takes the place of module 7. It is part of an analytic project under an NIA-funded program project at the University of Chicago, and was developed in consultation with HRS. The questions in this module ask about respondents' feelings of loneliness and about the support they receive from their spouse or partner, other household members, and friends.

Module 8: ELSA health questions
Questions from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing similar to those in Section C; designed to provide a cross-reference between health items asked in the ELSA and the HRS.

Module 9: Numeracy
This module tests additional numeracy items, and uses a 6-way design to test for context effects across four types of mathematical skills. Each math item is couched in three contexts: health, economic/market, and context-free, and respondents are assigned to pre-designated combinations so that they receive each math problem only once. It also overlaps with an ELSA proposal to develop numeracy measures for large surveys.

Module 10: Positive well-being
This module builds on the work of Powell Lawton and others to assess the extent of positive feelings about life and health.

Module 11: Later life education
This module asks about educational activities in later life.

Module 12: Subjective uncertainty about stock market returns.
This module assesses the respondent's full distribution of expectations of one-year stock market returns by asking for probabilities that the return would be above or below specified levels.

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HRS 2000 Core

Module 1: Medicare knowledge
Module 1 asks questions and presents hypothetical situations to ascertain respondents' knowledge about HMO and non-HMO Medicare and about sources of their information about Medicare.

Module 2: Alternative medicine
This module covers respondents' recent and past use of herbal or other dietary supplements and medications, treatments by chiropractors, massage therapists, or acupuncturists, and spiritual practices that may be related to health.

Module 3: Planning and expectations for retirement
Module 3 asks about activities R may have undertaken to plan for retirement; the questions are slightly different for those who are already fully retired than for those still anticipating full retirement. A short set of questions at the end are designed to get at R's propensity towards planning ahead.

Module 4: Economic altruism
This module is designed to ascertain a measure of the R's willingness to give regular financial assistance to help out relatives and friends at varying levels of need, as well as to charities.

Module 5: Benevolence and obligation
This module asks about R's self-perception as a giver to others, and his or her reasons for giving, especially as it relates to giving to family members.

Module 6: Request for health plan booklet
Module 6 is the request for R's health plan booklet to help assess the possibility of using this method to obtain details of R's health insurance coverage. This module appears in Section R of the core instrument.

Module 7: Health utilities index
This module implements the Mark III version of the Health Utilities Index. Problems with vision, hearing, mobility, hand and arm use, mental functioning, general discomfort, and outlook on life are assessed. Domain scores and overall utility preference scores will be computed.

Module 8: Tolerance for large and small risks
Module 8 gets at R's willingness to take financial risks by posing a set of hypothetical situations and asking R to report what he or she would do in those situations. Part of the module is asked in section H – the "expectations" section -- at H18 and H19.

Module 9: Alcohol consumption and HRS Wave 1 IADL measures
A very short module with a few questions about difficulties of everyday activities and alcohol consumption, and 1 question in section B.

Module 10: Proxy validation
Module 10 repeats selected questions asked in sections B, C, and E about R's health and daily activities, but asks the R to answer these questions about his or her spouse/partner; the intention here is to be able to look at the agreement between R and Spouse reports of health problems of one of them.

Module 11: Social altruism
This module asks about R's connectedness to other people and the emotional support available to R from their spouse/partner, adult children, parents and parents-in-law, and friends.

Module 12: Valuing health.
Module 12 asks respondents to compare their present state of health to perfect health using a standard time- tradeoff question valuing health in terms of years of life, and a similar willingness-to-pay question valuing health in terms of money.

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HRS 1998 Core

Module 1: AHEAD 1993 ADL Questions
Based on AHEAD 1995, wave 2, module 1. Most respondents who were asked to do this module in 1998 were asked to do the same module in AHEAD 1995. This module contains questions about difficulty and the use of equipment and help in activities of daily living. These questions were part of the core questions in AHEAD 1993.

Module 3: ADL Measures Used for the Longitudinal Studies of Aging (LSOA)
Based on AHEAD 1993, wave 1, module 3. Most respondents who were asked to do this module in 1998 were asked to do the same module in both AHEAD 1993 and AHEAD 1995. This module contains the ADL questions used in AHEAD 1993 and AHEAD 1995, which were in turn based on those proposed for (and subsequently used in) the second LSOA.

Module 4: ADL Measures Used for the National Long-Term Care Study (NLTCS)
Based on AHEAD 1993, wave 1, module 4. Most respondents who were asked to do this module in 1998 were asked to do the same module in AHEAD 1993; this was not a module in AHEAD 1995.

Module 5: The 1990 Census ADL questions
Based on AHEAD 1993, wave 1, module 5. Slightly less than half of the respondents who were asked to do this module in 1998 were asked to do the same module in AHEAD 1993 (most of the rest were asked to do module 6 in AHEAD 1993); this was not a module in AHEAD 1995.

Module 10: Cognitive Section for Proxy Interviewed Sample Members
Also included in the module section, although not actually a module, is a section labeled module 10. It is a section of the interview that is administered to sample persons for whom proxy interviews were done, but are willing and able to do this section themselves.

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HRS 1996 Core

Module All: Consumption and anchoring
This module contains questions on food consumption, as well as questions designed to assess the degree to which the responses to unfolding brackets are affected by the level of the entry point (i.e. the "anchoring effect". To yield adequate sample sizes these questions were asked of all respondents.

Module 1: Health during childhood
This module contains question on the individual's health when they were growing up (from birth to age 16), on parental family composition and on their parental family's economic status. These data have been analyzed by Irma Elo, 1997, who found significant associations between socioeconomic status and health in childhood and adult health status. Parental family composition, on the other hand, was not found to be associated with adult health status.

Module 2: Health pedigree
This module contains questions on the individual's health pedigree--whether the individual's parents are still living, the cause of death if deceased, health status if living, and cause and age of death of any deceased siblings.

Module 3: Personality inventory
This is a brief personality inventory based on the respondent's rating of how closely each of 12 descriptive words fits the respondent.

Module 4: Medicare attitudes and preferences
This module attempts to measure respondents' attitudes and preferences toward Medicare. It includes questions on whether the respondent would prefer various cash equivalent dollar payments to Medicare insurance. It is thus a form of contingent valuation.

Module 5: Volunteerism and time use
This module includes questions on volunteerism and on time use. The respondent is asked how many hours he spent last year on ten types of volunteer activities ranging from help religious organizations to helping neighbors. Similarly the hours spent in eleven time-use activities ranging from television watching to reading are obtained.

Module 6: Preference parameters for consumption saving and labor supply
This module attempts to understand the respondents' preferences toward consumption, saving and labor supply by asking about their behavior if they won a hypothetical sweepstakes which would pay them an amount equal to their current family income for life.

Module 7: Advance directives
This module contains questions on advanced directives and respondents preferences toward a hypothetical cancer treatment under a variety of costs and treatment success rate assumptions.

Module 8: Attitudes toward inter-familial transfers
This module contains questions on the respondents' willingness to give financial help to parents and/or siblings under a variety of hypothetical situations. These data, in conjunction with those from HRS 2 Module 7, are designed to help understand altruism .

Module 9: Retirement planning
This module asks about retirement planning and saving for retirement and contains a question intended to measure the extent to which the respondent understands compound interest. It asks about the extent to which the respondent relies or plans to rely on Social Security, employer provided pension plans, IRAs 401k or Keogh plans and private savings. For retirees it contains questions on the adequacy of savings.

Module 10: Saving for retirement
Contains questions on the current level of savings for retirement and on the reliance or expect reliance on public, private and personal sources of income in retirement.

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AHEAD 1995 Core

All AHEAD 1995 Modules: Unfolding brackets with different entry points
Each of the modules includes questions designed to assess the importance of anchoring effects in unfolding questions about dollar amounts. In each case, respondents were asked about the amount of money they had in savings accounts, and about total household consumption in the past month. The "entry point" varied across the modules.

Module 1-2: Wave 1 ADL questions
The questions about difficulty and the use of equipment and help in activities of daily living that were asked in AHEAD Wave 1 were modified in Wave 2. To facilitate analysts who wish to take account of these wording changes when examining changes in responses across waves, a random subsample (double the size of the other modules) were asked the Wave 1 version of the ADL question (as well as the revised ADL questions that were asked in the main interview).

Module 3: LSOA2 ADL questions
This is the same as Module 3 on Wave 1, and was asked of the same respondents in both waves.

Module 4: Security and safety
This module contains questions about the subjective probability of being the victim of a crime and steps taken out of concern about crime.

Module 5: Sleep
This module includes questions about trouble falling asleep and staying asleep through the night, problems of falling asleep during the day, and the use of medications to aid sleep. It also includes two questions about the sense of personal control.

Module 6: Living wills
Questions are asked about end-of-life directives, whether or not the person has named anyone to make health care decisions for them if they are unable to do so themselves. The respondents were also presented with two scenarios for someone with a life-threatening illness who is presented with the choice of taking an experimental treatment with randomly varied cost and probability of success.

Module 7: In-depth ADLs
This is the same module (6) as in Wave 1, and was asked of the same respondents in both waves.

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HRS 1994 Core

Module 1: CES-D depression scale
The version of the CES-D Depression Scale included on the Wave II instrument is a substantially truncated version of the scale used in Wave I. This module is a methodological experiment designed to assess the degree to which the Wave II scale loses information compared to the Wave I scale. The module has been analyzed by Dianne Steffick who finds that apparent increase in depression between Waves 1 and 2 is almost certainly do to the change in the scale for "all of the time/most of the time/some of the time/none of the time" to "yes/no".

Module 2: Crystallized intelligence
We decided to eliminate the similarities test (a test of crystallized intelligence) in the basic survey, on the grounds that crystallized IQ is not expected to change with any rapidity in the age-range we are considering, and is expected to change more slowly than memory. The similarities test in this experimental module is exactly the same test as contained on the Wave I survey.

Module 3: Functional health
This module is a methodological test of the Wave II functional health scale compared to the Wave I scale. As noted earlier, Wave I comprised a 4-point scale associated with level of difficultly in performing various activities, while telephone interview considerations led us to develop Wave II as a 2-point scale to be followed by a second 2-point scale in the event of a "some difficulty" response. The experimental module uses the original 4-point scale designed for a personal interview environment.

Module 4: Long-run income elasticity of labor supply (Spending And Saving)
The long-run response of labor hours to changes in household income is a parameter of considerable interest to labor economists. A labor supply parameter relating to income change is difficult to observe in the real world, and the experimental module is designed to set up a hypothetical set of circumstances that will yield pure estimates of income elasticity. The hypothetical illustration concerns the effect of a windfall gain on labor hours, along with measures that will generate an assessment of the strength of an altruism parameter.

Module 5: Risk aversion
Wave I contained a measure of risk aversion based on responses to a hypothetical situation involving alternate jobs and respondents' willingness to take jobs with various risky characteristics. The experimental module on Wave II is an attempt to refine our risk aversion measure by observing the distribution of risk aversion at the extremes of the distribution, where the Wave I data suggest most of the sample actually resides.

Module 6: Social support
This is a set of questions about sources of social support for the respondent, including spouses, friends and co-workers.

Module 7: Parent-child transfers
This module examines motivations for transfers from parents to children. It is intended to aid in the analysis of preference parameters, specifically altruism.

Module 8: ADLs
This module is designed to get some early baseline data on the incidence of activities of daily living (ADL) deficiencies in the sample, and to find out who the ADL helpers are. Part of the module asks about future needs for ADL help, as well as whether respondents perceive themselves to be at risk of helping someone else in ADLs.

Module 9: Activities and time allocation
Part of the attraction of retirement is the ability to divert time from market work to other activities, and this module is an attempt to assess the strength of some of the pull toward retirement that can be attributed to the desire to reallocate time to non-market time issues.

Module 0: Nutrition
This module asks respondents to report on the frequency they eat foods from the various major food groups. The lists of food types is fairly detailed distinguishing, for instance, red meats from other meat and from fish.

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AHEAD 1993 Core

Module 1: Resilience
A subset of respondents assigned Module 1 were asked an innovative sequence designed to measure the concept of resilience, defined as the individual's ability to recover quickly and completely from any misfortune or challenge.

Module 2: Time use
This module contains a set of questions on unpaid but economically productive activities -- home maintenance, volunteer work, and informal help to others. Together with core questions on paid employment, these questions (adapted from Herzog et al., 1989) permit a balanced assessment of the productive contributions of older adults.

Module 3-4: Alternative ADLs
The issue of comparability or equivalence of alternative functional health measures is an important one because of the wide-spread use of ADL measures in policy research. Module 3 contains the ADL questions which were been proposed for (and subsequently used in) the second LSOA; Module 4 replicates the ADL function items on the NLTCS screen. (Reference: Rodgers, Willard L. and Baila Miller. 1997. "A Comparative Analysis of ADL Questions in Surveys of Older People." Journals of Gerontology, Social Sciences 52B(Special Issue):21-36. )

Module 5: WAIS Similarities
The core AHEAD measures of cognitive functioning reflect basic orientation and processing skills and the ability to learn new information. These measures do not assess the dimension of abstract reasoning which is thought to decline less precipitously with age. Abstract reasoning also may serve as an important compensatory cognitive skill. The WAIS Similarities is a widely used measure of abstract reasoning and replicates the scale in the core HRS 1 interview (Wallace and Herzog, 1995). This module also included two ADL questions that are asked in the U.S. Census long form. (Reference: Wallace, Robert B. and A. R. Herzog. 1995. "Overview of the Health Measures in the Health and Retirement Survey." The Journal of Human Resources Volume 30 (Supplement 1995):S84-S107. )

Module 6: Quality of life
In combination with other health measures, quality of life variables can be used to describe the psycho-social consequences of declining health. The conflict between quality of life concerns and medical care may be particularly common among the oldest old for whom comorbidities often necessitate invasive, painful, time-consuming, or expensive medical regimes. A focus on the essential quality of life issue -- whether life is still worth living --underlies the questions in this module which were adapted from unpublished work by Lawton (personal communication, 1993) and from the purpose-in-life subscale of Ryff's Subjective Well-Being Scale, 1989. In addition to the quality of life items, a few questions on mastery and personal control from Pearlin and Schooler (1978) are included in the module.

Module 7: In-depth ADLs
Research on cognitive, psychomotor, and psychological functioning indicates that there is considerable potential for adapting to and compensating for declining functioning among the elderly. Specific compensating mechanisms include a change in the ways an activity is performed, increasing the time allotted for completing the activity, lowering standards for the completion of an activity, and modifying the immediate environment to facilitate performance (Keller, et al., 1993). In order to explore whether such adaptive mechanisms account for a lack of reported difficulty with bathing despite obvious physical or cognitive impairments, Module 6 probes various detailed adaptive strategies for bathing. Because financial issues are a central concern in AHEAD, comparable questions on adaptation and performance of financial management activities appear at the end of Module 6.

Module 9: Financial pressure
There is considerable interest in the ways in which financial pressures structure the lives of the elderly. Module 9 asks respondents to indicate if they find it difficult to pay their bills or if they cut back on non-medical expenses, such as eating out or traveling . This module also asks about the perceived fairness of policy alternatives for making long-term care in nursing homes more accessible to older people.

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HRS 1992 Core

Module A: Physiological Measurements of Health and Functioning Status
Vital capacity as measured by Peak Expiratory Flow Rate (PEFR) and grip strength were measured to provide a means of validating self reports. The PEFR data have been analyzed by Swallen, 1997, and were found the be strongly associated with self-reported lung disease, overall self-rated health, smoking status, education and income. Using longitudinal data from Wave 1 and 2 Swallen also found the PEFR data to precedes the onset of disabilities. (Reference: Swallen, Karen C. 1997. "Peak Expiratory Flow Rate in the Young Elderly: Health and Wealth." Presented at the annual meetings of the Gerontological Society of America, November 1997. )

Module B-C: ADL Measures Used on the National Long- Term Care Study and on the National Health Interview Survey
These data were collected to provide researchers with a cross-walk' which would allow the HRS ADL measures to be recalibrated to better correspond to the ADL measures in these alternative studies.

Module D: Meta-memory
A battery of questions used to assess Meta-Memory, along with the Census Bureau screen question used for the presence of ADL limitations.

Module E: Process benefits
This module consists of a set of 10-point scales on intrinsic satisfaction from work, housework, and various types of leisure. These data have been analyzed by Hill, 1998, and were found to be significant predictors of retirement between HRS Waves 1 and 2. The satisfaction ratings for the seven activities investigated load on to two distinct factors--sociability and domesticity. They are also significantly and systematically related to background factors (gender, education, etc.) in reasonable directions. The Job Enjoyment measure was a strong predictor of retirement between 1992 and 1996--an effect due almost entirely to the earlier retirement of those who very much dislike their jobs. (Reference: Hill, Dan. "Process Benefits Experimental Module (HRS 1 Mod E)." Internal Memo to HRS/AHEAD Researchers, Oct. 5 1998. )

Module F: Employment Alternatives
A series of questions on 10-point probability scales asking respondents about the likelihood that they can find jobs like their present job but with specified differences in characteristics different amounts of pay; greater amounts of flexibility in hours per week, weeks per year, hours per day; etc.. These data are the subject of an ongoing research project (an R03) directed by Michael Hurd at the RAND Corporation.

Module G: Parental Wealth
A set of questions asking respondents about the asset holdings of their parents, and then asking for permission to talk to the parents. Although some analysis has been done on this module by Rodgers and Herzog, the poor response to these questions has led us to abandon the idea of asking children about their parents wealth.

Module H: Occupational Injuries
A set of questions about various characteristics of work that relate to the likelihood of on-the-job injuries. These data have formed the basis of a series of analyses and journal articles (see Zwerling, et al., 1995a, 1995b, 1996a, 1996b, 1997 and 1998).

Module J: Health risks
A set of questions about the likelihood that respondents or spouses will need long-term care in a nursing home, longevity estimates relating to the spouse of the respondent, expectations about having medical care insurance at age 65 provided by an employer, and questions about the coverage of Medicare and the coverage that could be available from other types of insurance. There are also questions about Medicaid coverage and respondents' perceptions about their eligibility for Medicaid.

Module K: Substitution elasticity of consumption
This is a module that we are using for a small sample of cases at the very end of the study. It is a highly experimental measure of the intertemporal elasticity of substitution in consumption, a concept that plays a key role in economic models of life-cycle saving behavior.

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