The LIFE-M project uses millions of U.S. vital records to reconstruct how individuals and families have changed across the 20th century. These data will link together health, family structure, demographic and economic characteristics from birth until death for at least 4 generations and provide new insight into how the economy and society have evolved over the past 100 years.  LIFE-M will offer unprecedented sample sizes and include populations that have traditionally been understudied, such as minorities, immigrants, and women.

“This is an exciting moment for big data and social science,” says Bailey. “We are grateful for funding from the NSF that allows us to develop LIFE-M into a large-scale data resource.”

David Lam, professor of economics and Director of the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, hailed LIFE-M’s “combination of the latest advances in information technology and 100 years of vital statistics data as one of the most valuable new social science resources to come along in decades.”

This project is funded as part of the NSF’s Cyberinfrastructure Framework for 21st Century Science and Engineering (CIF21) activity through the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE). The project was chosen for funding from September 2015 to August of 2019 through a merit-based review process, with consideration to its intellectual value and broad societal impact.

The LIFE-M pilot project was funded by the Michigan Institute for Teaching and Research in Economics (MITRE), Michigan Center on the Demography of Aging, the Population Studies Center, and the University of Michigan’s LSA Associate Professor Fund.

LIFE-M Investigators Hoyt Bleakley, Martha Bailey, George Alter and Matias Cattaneo (not pictured are Eytan Adar, Margaret Levenstein and Nada Wasi)

Along with the University of Michigan staff and student team pictured above, U-M faculty investigators working with Bailey on this project include Associate Professor of Information, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Eytan Adar, Director of the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) George Alter, Associate Professor of Economics Hoyt Bleakley, Associate Professor of Economics and Statistics Matias Cattaneo, Executive Director of the Michigan Census Research Data Center (MCRDC) Margaret Levenstein and Assistant Research Scientist of the Survey Research Center (SRC) Nada Wasi