Age Validation in the Long Life Family Study Through a Linkage to Early-Life Census Records

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Abstract

Objectives.

Studies of health and longevity require accurate age reporting. Age misreporting among older adults in the United States is common.

Methods.

Participants in the Long Life Family Study (LLFS) were matched to early-life census records. Age recorded in the census was used to evaluate age reporting in the LLFS. The study population was 99% non-Hispanic white.

Results.

About 88% of the participants were matched to 1910, 1920, or 1930 U.S. censuses. Match success depended on the participant’s education, place of birth, and the number of censuses available to be searched. Age at the time of the interview based on the reported date of birth and early-life census age were consistent for about 89% of the participants, and age consistency within 1 year was found for about 99% of the participants.

Discussion.

It is possible to match a high fraction of older study participants to their early-life census records when detailed information is available on participants’ family of origin. Such record linkage can provide an important source of information for evaluating age reporting among the oldest old participants. Our results are consistent with recent studies suggesting that age reporting among older whites in the United States appears to be quite good.

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