The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation


guest register






Locate in Document:

  Project 1  - Conducting a National Survey of Midlife Development
Project 2 - Ethnic and Racial Minorities in Urban Areas
Project 3 - Collaborative Longitudinal Studies
Survey Content and Availability

Research Project 1

This is the main research activity of the Network. This survey was administered as part of the collaborative interdisciplinary investigation of patterns, predictors, and consequences of midlife development in the areas of physical health, psychological well being, and social responsibility. This survey is the

National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS)
(Technical Report on the Methodology of the MIDUS Survey)

The questions in the survey were selected from prior instruments or developed by members of MIDMAC over a period of several years. This work included the design and administration of several small national pilot surveys in selected MIDMAC topical areas. The resulting survey instrument is named

The Midlife Development Inventory (MIDI)
(Survey Content and Availability)

A.) Sampling

The MIDUS survey was administered to a nationally representative sample of 7,189 non-institutionalized, English-speaking adults. There was an oversampling of older respondents and men to guarantee a good distribution on the cross-classification of age and gender. All respondents are in the age range 25-74. Respondents were recruited by telephone to participate in the survey. The respondents were administered a 30-minute telephone interview, and then a two-part self-administered questionnaire was mailed to them.

The Final Samples:
1. General Population Sample:

Respondents completed both telephone survey and self-administered questionnaire
Respondents completed the telephone survey only


2. Oversamples in five metropolitan areas:




 San Francisco 


3. Siblings of the General Population Respondents

    529 people were randomly selected from those of the general population respondents who reported that they had one or more siblings.  Using only siblings within a family that had the same biological mother and father, a group of 951 siblings was identified. (Often more than one sibling in a family was included.) The combined groups of 951 and 529 yielded 1,614 sibling pairs. The distribution is as follows:
   272   2    272    544
   146   3    438    438
     75   4    450    300
     22   5    220    110
     10   6    150      60
       4   7      84      28

   529  - 1,614 1,480

   The 1,614 pairs of siblings consist of the following gender pairs:

Gender Pairs
Male-Male    280
Female-Female    447
Male-Female    685
  Sub-Total 1,412
Male-Unknown      52
Female-Unknown      95
Unknown-Unknown       55
  Sub-Total    202
  Total  1,614

     The age distribution of the 1,480 individual siblings is as follows:

25-34    203 
35-44    341
45-54    350
55-64    288
65-74    208 
   Sub-Total   1,390 

      Outliers from calculated age (phone date - birth date):

24          1 
75         3
Missing       86
  Sub-Total       90
  Total   1,480 
4. Twins Pairs
    998 twin pairs (1,996 twin individuals) were recruited as described below. On occasion there was more than one twin pair per family. The distribution is as follows:


  933   1   1,866
    28   2      112
      3   3       18

  964   -  1,996

     The age distribution is known for 1,914 of the 1996 twin individuals.

25-34    422
35-44    579
45-54    492
55-64    260
65-74    161
  Sub-Total  1,914 

    The general population sample and the metropolitan oversample were recruited by random digit dialing. Siblings of the general population respondents were recruited with the cooperation of the respondents, who were asked to provide interviewers with contact information and to communicate with their sibs about participation prior to the time a recruiter makes a contact attempt. Twin-pairs were recruited in a more complex two-part sampling design. The first part of the twin sample design involved screening a representative national sample of approximately 50,000 households for the presence of a twin. This was done as part of ongoing national omnibus surveys. The second part of the twin sample design involved student recruiters from the University of Michigan contacting the twin households and attempting to recruit twins to participate in the survey. Cooperating twins were asked to provide contact information for their co-twins, who were also recruited by the students.

B.) Data Collection

MIDUS data collection includes four phases:

1. The 7,189 respondents were administered a 30-minute telephone interview.

2. A two-part self-administered questionnaire was mailed to respondents. The questionnaire takes about an hour and a half to complete. A reminder postcard and a remailing of a second copy of the questionnaire was sent to all respondents who failed to return the initial mailing. Those who failed to return the second copy of the questionnaire were recontacted by telephone and encouraged to do so. A third copy of the questionnaire was mailed to respondents who, in the course of the persuasion call, reported that they misplaced both copies of the questionnaire that were mailed to them or reported that the copies never arrived.

3. The twin pairs and non-twin sib pairs were asked to supply DNA samples from inside cheek scrapings for purposes of genotyping. Two cytology brush packages were included in each self-administered questionnaire mailing. Respondents used the brushes to gently scrape the inside of their cheeks for 30 seconds.

4. Random subsamples of respondents were recruited into five in-depth investigations of selected topics:

    The first is a longitudinal, laboratory-based study of management strategies used to cope with midlife stressful experiences. This study is underway in Boston, and makes use of 302 of the 556 Boston oversample respondents in the general population sample.
    The second study is an intensive, three hour investigation of social responsibility. This study employed face-to-face in-depth interviews with 94 MIDUS subjects selected from the oversamples in the five metropolitan areas. The interviews are completed and are being analyzed. This study is in collaboration with Anne Colby of the Henry A. Murray Research Center, Radcliffe College, and William Damon, Center for the Study of Human Development, Brown University.

    In the third, a total of 1,483 subjects from the MIDUS survey participated in the National Study of Daily Experiences (NSDE). The NSDE sample is comprised of 1,031 randomly selected respondents from the main general population survey and 452 MIDUS twins. Twins were selected if twin pairs had high self-reported certainty of zygosity. The twin subsample includes approximately 216 same sex-twin pairs (116 MZ and 110 DZ). Respondents in the NSDE completed short telephone interviews about their daily experiences on each of eight consecutive evenings. On the final evening of interviewing, respondents also answered several questions about their previous week. Data collection spanned an entire year (March 1996 -March 1997) and consisted of 40 separate "flights" of interviews with each flight representing the eight-day sequence of interviews from approximately 38 respondents. Of the 1,843 MIDUS respondents with whom contact was attempted, 1,484 agreed to participate, yielding a response rate of 81%. Respondents completed an average of 7 of the 8 interviews resulting in a total of 10,389 daily interviews.

    The fourth investigation held focused interviews of a subsample of 750 respondents from the larger sample, exploring the prevalence of various kinds of events among those reporting intense midlife psychological experiences, including experiences that have been referred to as "midlife crises," and looking for clues to possible predictors and consequences of such events. This subsample will be selected by reinterviewing respondents who reported in the core interview that they experienced a midlife crisis or some other intense midlife psychological experience, and by interviewing a matched subsample of controls who reported no such experiences.

    The fifth in-depth study was launched during 1996. Some 83 respondents selected from the subsample of 1,300 respondents in the daily diary study described above will be invited to participate. This study is of the ways in which personal and social well-being are experienced and lived. The method is an in-depth psychological interview, covering four of five hours, on the meaning of midlife to the interviewee and the subjective changes in selfhood that have been experienced.

C. Technical Report
     The technical report on the Methodology of the MIDUS Survey consists of three parts (see below) and is available for downloading.

Field Procedures
The Response Rate
Weighting the MIDUS Data

Project 2
Project 3
Survey Content

Research Project 2

A set of studies was designed to assure representation of minorities who might be reached only in small numbers by the national probability sample surveys. These studies use home interviews with quota samples of ethnic/racial minorities in Chicago and New York City, and with subjects of an ongoing longitudinal research program in Baltimore. All subjects in these studies have taken a modified version of the MIDI, which includes about 65% of the instrument used in the national surveys. It is possible to do many identical analyses for the national sample and for the minority subjects.

In Chicago the subjects are 261 Mexican Americans and 196 Puerto Ricans (457 total). In New York City the subjects are 284 Dominicans, 284 Puerto Ricans, and 338 African-Americans (906 total). In Baltimore the subjects are 250+/- midlife women, primarily African-American, who have been followed in a longitudinal study since adolescence.

Among the data being collected in these studies are detailed descriptions of the subject's home community, family and kinship membership, and stress in the workplace. In addition, in New York City there is an ethnographic follow up involving in depth interviews with 100 cases drawn from the New York City subjects, and intensive studies of their neighborhoods.

Project 1
Project 3
Survey Content

Research Project 3

Productive collaboration continues with three major longitudinal studies: Whitehall II; the National Survey of Families and Households; and the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. During 1995 research papers were written based on analyses of data in one or more of these longitudinal studies combined with similar data in the Network's six large pilot studies. Similar multi-study analyses using the MIDUS survey data when available have been planned for some time, and now that the data are in hand these analyses are underway. These include a study of mastery and control in both the MIDUS and Whitehall II data, and a study of psychological well-being in both the MIDUS data and NSFH data, and a study of social class and health combining data from all four studies.

A collaboration with CHEWE (Coronary Heart Disease in Eastern and Western Europe) is a modest venture by the Network, in which the next wave of data-gathering in three very large longitudinal studies of heart disease will include questions taken from the MIDI on psychological well being, and on psychological characteristics and health practices.

A new collaboration was established with the well-known Nurses Health Study at Harvard Medical School. This collaboration includes a special survey of a subgroup of subjects who have experienced some specific illnesses during the prior year, and also the inclusion of a number of questions from the MIDI in the next main data gathering wave in the Nurses Study.

Project 1
Project 2
Survey Content

Survey Content and Availability

A. Survey Content

The Midlife Development Inventory (MIDI) used in the main survey is available

for downloading:
MIDI Questionnaires

B. Data Availability

The MIDUS Main, Twin, and Sibling survey data have been deposited at the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) and are now available.  ICPSR will also make data from the six satellite studies available as soon as they are deposited by Network members and the archiving work is completed.  This activity will continue into the spring of 2001.
Data files can be found at ICPSR's "Data Access & Analysis" page located at: 

Searching for "MIDUS" or "Midlife" will bring up data collections deposited by the Network (as shown below).


Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS): Boston Study of Management Processes, 1995-1997
Lachman, Margie E.
description | downloads |



Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS): Survey of Minority Groups [Chicago and New York City], 1995-1996
Hughes, Diane L., Shweder, Richard A.
description | downloads



National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS), 1995-1996
Brim, Orville G., Paul B. Baltes, Larry L. Bumpass, Paul D. Cleary, David L. Featherman, William R. Hazzard, Ronald C. Kessler, Margie E. Lachman, Hazel Rose Markus, ...
description | downloads |


Website copyright 2006 MIDMAC.   All Rights Reserved.
Webmaster: Brenda Smit