Harvard and Beyond Project


Claudia Goldin, Lawrence F. Katz, Naomi Hausman, and Bryce Ward

The Harvard and Beyond Project is part of a broader study examining the historical evolution of the career and family outcomes among U.S. college men and women. A major focus of the research is on graduates from selective colleges and universities. The Harvard and Beyond Survey will provide detailed information on the education, career, and family transitions of 12+ classes of Harvard/Radcliffe College students. The resultant data will be used to study multiple cohorts of individuals who attended an elite institution. For further information see The Harvard Crimson article on the project.

The Cohorts

We have chosen three cohorts to study: those who entered in the late 1960s, the late 1970s, and the late 1980s. To be more concrete, we have selected the entering classes of 1965 to 1968 (most of whom graduated from 1969 to 1972), the entering classes of 1975 to 1978 (graduating mainly 1979 to 1982), and entering 1985 to 1988 (graduating mainly 1989 to 1992). We also selected the women from the class of 1973 to increase the number of women in the first cohort and, in addition, the class of 1988 served as an important test class for the survey. In sum, the following graduating classes were selected for inclusion in the Harvard and Beyond Project:

  • 1969 to 1972, plus the women in the 1973 graduating class
  • 1979 to 1982, and
  • 1989 to 1992, plus 1988 as a test survey class.

Individuals who entered with these classes, or transferred to Harvard, or who did not graduate on time are also included.
More information about the H&B sample, including its representativeness relative to national college populations, can be found sample.pdf.

The Survey

The Harvard and Beyond Survey was a web-based survey designed largely by Bryce Ward. A companion paper version of the Survey was distributed to members of the selected classes who preferred a paper survey, as well as to those without viable e-mail addresses.

We began in August 2006 sending e-mails regarding the web-based survey to all included classes. We also sent a reminder e-mail to those who did not fill out the web-based survey. Paper versions of the survey were mailed beginning in mid-October 2006 via bulk mail. The majority of the surveys arrived at their destinations in late October to early November. We began receiving replies in late October and entered the information electronically. We sent a reminder e-mail in December 2006 to all who had not yet replied. The e-mail to the class of 1973 women was also sent in December 2006 and was followed by hard-copy to those who did not reply. We received more than 6,500 replies to the survey and have coded them. Some information from the survey data is given below.

The survey respondents voted to divide the $10,000 donation as follows: American Cancer Society 33%, Nature Conservancy 44%, United Way of America 12%, and American Heart Association 11%. A check has been sent to each of these charities.

Project Findings (posted April 2008)

We have only just begun to analyze the H&B data and compare its findings to those in nationally representative data sets as well as todata on particular occupations.

Our paper, Transitions: Career and Family Life Cycles of the Educational Elite, American Economic Review (May 2008) provides a good summary of some of our initial findings.

We have created four sets of slides that provide various interesting facts about the cohorts we are studying. These have been divided into the general areas:

Issues of Confidentiality

All information that is part of the Harvard and Beyond Project will remain strictly confidential. The co-principals on this project will guard the security of the data and promise that no individual information will ever be released or divulged in any manner. The data will remain the property of Harvard, and will not be disclosed by the researchers to any third party without Harvard's prior written consent (see Confidentiality Agreement). The research that will be circulated on the project will be aggregated so that information concerning any one person cannot be distinguished. After the collection of the data, the information for research use will not contain any names or individual identifiers. These data are for academic research purposes only and the individual information will not be shared with the Harvard Alumni Association. The co-PIs have received approval by Harvard University's Committee on the Use of Human Subjects in Research to conduct the survey.

The Co-Principals

Claudia Goldin is Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard University; Lawrence F. Katz is Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics at Harvard University; Naomi Hausman is a graduate student in the Department of Economics, Harvard University; Bryce Ward recently received his Ph.D. from the Department of Economics at Harvard. This project is funded by the President's Office of Harvard University.

To learn more about Claudia Goldin see the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Summer 2004 Interview with Claudia Goldin.
Read Claudia Goldin's March 15, 2006 New York Times OpEd piece on "opting out," Working it Out.

Send comments or questions to Professor Goldin.

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