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National Longitudinal Mortality Study (NLMS)

Project Overview
  • Project Overview
  • Data Availability
  • Research Proposal
  • Reference Manual
  • Sponsors and Investigators
  • Bibliography
  • Limitations & Confidentiality
Project Overview

National Longitudinal Mortality Study (NLMS)

Description of Project

The National Longitudinal Mortality Study (NLMS) consists of a database developed for the purpose of studying the effects of demographic and socio-economic characteristics on differentials in U.S. mortality rates. The NLMS is a unique research database in that it is based on a random sample of the non-institutionalized population of the United States. It consists of Annual Social and Economic Supplements which cover the period from March 1973 to March 2011, Current Population Surveys for February 1978, April 1980, August 1980, December 1980, and September 1985, and one 1980 Census cohort, 39 cohorts in all. These are combined with death certificate information to identify mortality status and cause of death. The study currently consists of approximately 3.8 million records with over 550,000 identified mortality cases. 

Mortality information is obtained from death certificates available for deceased persons through the National Center for Health Statistics. Important variables available for analyses are standard demographic and socio-economic variables such as, education, income and employment as well as information collected from death certificates, including cause of death.

The content of the socio-economic variables available offers researchers the potential to answer questions on mortality differentials for a variety of important socio-economic and demographic subgroups not covered as extensively in other databases. This project has generated over 90 publications in various prominent scholarly, scientific and public health related journals.


Project Objectives

To provide an analytical research database for the purpose of studying the effect of demographic and socio-economic differentials on U.S. mortality rates. Specific objectives of this project are:

  1. To provide answers to specific public health questions which are not available from other sources.
  2. To publish research findings in scholarly, scientific and health related journals.
  3. To release a public-use file. This file will be released only after extensive review to ensure that the confidentiality of respondents has been protected. The release of the public-use file must be approved by the Census Bureau’s Disclosure Review Board and the organizations contributing data to the file.

Future Plans

The current plan for the NLMS is to integrate information on mortality through 2018 with research on the resulting database to continue, at least, through 2024. 

In addition to the socio-economic and mortality data available, extensive geographical and demographic summary information at the census tract level, may be incorporated into NLMS records. To further enhance the research potential of NLMS data, information from sources outside the Census Bureau defined at the tract level may also be incorporated. An example of these types of data would be environmental pollution data from the Environmental Protection Agency.

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