At A Glance

Noteworthy Characteristics

  • Provides measured height and weight data.
  • Provides physical activity measures that distinguish activity outside of school.
  • Provides geospatial data at the zip code, census tract, and block level.
  • Three-wave longitudinal survey embedded in more than four decades of linkable data collected in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID).
  • Features a genealogical panel with links to parental and grandparental data obtained in the PSID. It also has data on substantial numbers of sibling pairs in each wave of the Child Development Supplement.



To collect longitudinal data on food expenditures, food security, nutritional knowledge, and other content for families in the United States (U.S.) with children ages 0 to 18 years. To collect data on weight status and dietary and exercise practices for children in these families.

Target Population

U.S. children ages 0 to 18 years and their caregivers.


Began in 1997. Conducted in three waves in 1997, 2002-2003, and 2007-2008. Most recent year conducted was 2014.

The Transition into Adulthood (TA) Study was conducted in 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011. The TA Study will continue to gather information on these individuals through at least 2015, or when they are eligible to join the PSID sample.

CDS-2014 questionnaires were revised and updated to include content that reflects the current circumstances of children’s family, neighborhood, and school contexts. Three key changes include:
• New content on children’s access to and use of computers and other electronic devices for learning, socializing, and entertainment. This new content appears in the questionnaires administered to primary caregivers (PCGs) and children as well as in time diaries.
• Updated questions in the adolescent interview to reflect changes in patterns of substance use since 2007.
• New questionnaire content measuring children’s prosocial behavior.


The study is funded by the National Science Foundation; the National Institute on Aging, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services); the Economic Research Service (U.S. Department of Agriculture); the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; the U.S. Department of Labor; and the Center on Philanthropy at the Indiana University-Purdue University.

Special Note(s)

The Child Development Supplement (CDS) is one research component of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), which was begun in 1968. The PSID is a longitudinal study of a representative sample of U.S. individuals and their families. The PSID has collected data on family composition changes, housing and food expenditures, marriage and fertility histories, employment, income, time spent in housework, health, consumption, wealth, and more.

The CDS collected information on children (ages 0 to 12 years in 1997) whose parents participated in the PSID. This cohort of children was interviewed in 1997 (CDS-I); 2002-2003 (CDS-II) and 2007-2008 (CDS-III). When these children were younger than age 18 years, they were included in the CDS. When they were age 18 years and older, they participated in the Transition Into Adulthood Study.


Sample Design

Panel/longitudinal survey that selected up to two children ages 0 to 12 years in Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) families. Of the approximately 3,600 children in the first wave (CDS-I), approximately 76% had a sibling who also participated in the study.

Nationally representative sample of children and their primary caregivers. In the initial PSID sample, minority and low-income families were oversampled, resulting in a substantial number of Black families. Learn more about the sampling design.

Sample Size

CDS-I: Approximately 3,600 children and 2,400 families in 1997-1999.
CDS-II: Approximately 2,900 children and adolescents and 2,000 families in 2002-2003.
CDS-III: Approximately 1,500 children and adolescents and 1,600 families in 2007-2008.
CDS-2014: 4,333 children and adolescents and 2,517 caregivers

Special Note(s)

CDS-I children also were part of the PSID sample at time of PSID 1997 interview; CDS-II children also were part of the PSID sample at the time of the 2001 interview; CDS-III children also were part of the PSID sample at the time of the 2007 interview.

Cognitive assessments were obtained using the Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement and WISC Digit Span Test for Short Term Memory.

In addition to the survey measures, time diary information was collected on a random weekday and a random weekend day from approximately 2,900 children in CDS-I, 2,600 children in CDS-II, and 1,400 children in CDS-III.

Self-reported information was collected from children ages 10 years and older at the time of the interview.

The sample includes approximately equal in the number of boys and girls. The CDS includes approximately 1,100 White families; 1,000 Black families; 200 non-White, non-Black Hispanic families; and 46 Asian families; 12 Native American families; and 29 families of other nationalities.

Key Variables


NameMethods of Assessment
Family compositionInterview/questionnaire
Socioeconomic statusInterview/questionnaire


NameMethods of Assessment
Family dynamics related to food consumptionInterview/questionnaire
Fast food and snack food consumptionInterview/questionnaire
Frequency of consumption of fruits, vegetables, grains, sweets, meat, proteinInterview/questionnaire
Household food expendituresInterview/questionnaire
Participation in food stamps program (now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP]), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Interview/questionnaire
Participation in national school meal programsInterview/questionnaire

Physical Activity-Related

NameMethods of Assessment
Neighborhood safety and characteristicsInterview/questionnaire
Physical activityInterview/questionnaire
Physical activity outside of schoolInterview/questionnaire
Physical educationInterview/questionnaire
Sedentary activity (i.e., television, computer, video use)Interview/questionnaire
Sleep (i.e., amount, perception of adequacy)Interview/questionnaire


NameMethods of Assessment
Height and weightMeasured
Weight maintenance strategiesInterview/questionnaire


NameMethods of Assessment
Links to school identifiers from the National Center for Educational Statistics Common Core of Data and the Private School Universe Survey/Private School Survey SeriesN/A
Zip code, census tract, census block, county, and state N/A

Data Access and Cost

Data Availability

Obtain data by going to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID)-CDS Data Center website. Follow the instructions for requesting customized data files and documentation.


All public data are free of charge.

Special Note(s)

Restricted data (geocodes and school administrative data) are provided only to individuals who meet requirements and enter into a contract with the University of Michigan. Contracts must be renewed every 180 days for a total contractual period of 3 years. To initiate the contract process, the following materials must be submitted for review: a research statement; a data protection plan; Institutional Review Board approval from one’s home institution; and an administrative processing fee of $750. Upon approval of these materials, a contract will be sent to the requestor’s institution. Contact for more information.

The most recent year for which data are available is not necessarily the most recent year this survey was conducted.


Geocode Variable(s)

Geocode variables available by special agreement (see Special Notes under Data Access and Cost): zip code, census tract, census block, county, and state; National Center for Education Statistics school identifier and school district identifier.

Existing Linkages

Using school identifiers, Child Development Supplement (CDS) data on children and adolescents have been linked to National Center for Educational Statistics Common Core of Data (NCES/CCD) information on public school characteristics and Private School Universe Survey/Private School Survey Series (PSS) information on private school characteristics.

CDS data can be linked to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics survey. Parent, grandparent, and sibling data can be examined.

Special Note(s)

School identifiers needed to link to CCD and PSS data are considered restricted and are available only by special agreement (see Special Notes under Data Access and Cost).

Selected Publications


Mirtcheva D, Powell, LM. Participation in the National School Lunch Program: Importance of school-level and neighborhood contextual factors. Journal of School Health 2009;79(10):485-494.

Powell LM, Han E. The costs of food at home and away from home and consumption patterns among U.S. adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health 2011;48(1)20-26.

Physical Activity-Related

Desha L, Ziviani J, Nicholson J, Martin G. Physical activity and depressive symptoms in American adolescents. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology 2007;29(4):534-543.

Sener IN, Copperman R, Pendyala R, Chandra B. An analysis of children's leisure activity engagement: Examining the day of week, location, physical activity level, and fixity dimensions. Transportation 2008;35(5):673-696.


Fertig A, Glomm G, Tchernis R. The connection between maternal employment and childhood obesity: Inspecting the mechanisms. Review of Economics of the Household 2009;7(3):227-255.

Garasky S, Stewart SD, Gundersen C, Lohnman BJ, Eisenmann JC. Family stressors and child obesity. Social Science Research 2009;38(4):755-766.

Grafova I. Overweight children: Assessing the contribution of the neighborhood environment. Preventive Medicine 2008;47(3):304-308.

Hofferth SL Curtin SC. Poverty, food programs, and childhood obesity. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 2005;24(4):703-706.

Jones SJ, Jahns L, Laraia BA, Haughton B. Lower risk of overweight in school-aged food insecure girls who participate in food assistance: Results from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics Child Development Supplement. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 2003;157(8):780-784.

Lumeng JC, Ganon K, Appugliese D, Cabral HJ, Zuckerman B. Preschool child care and risk of overweight in 6- to 12-year old children. International Journal of Obesity 2005;29(1):60-66.

Simonton SZ. Prevalence and extent of severe childhood overweight in a nationally representative sample of U.S. children aged 6-18 years. Annals of Epidemiology 2008;18(9):723.

Snell EK, Adam EK, Duncan GJ. Sleep and the body mass index and overweight status of children and adolescents. Child Development 2007;78(1):309-323.

Vandewater EA, Huang X. Parental weight status as a moderator of the relationship between television viewing and childhood overweight. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 2006;160(4):425-431.

Vandewater EA, Shim MJ, Caplovitz AG. Linking obesity and activity level with children's television and video game use. Journal of Adolescence 2004;27(1):71-85.

Zimmerman FJ, Bell JF. Associations of television content type and obesity in children. American Journal of Public Health 2010;100(2):334-340.



Wave I
Wave II
Wave III


Software for constructing intergenerational and sibling linked data:


all tutorials

Tutorials for the CDS-2014