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The case for sustained investment in state longitudinal integrated data systems: The value of extended time span coverage

Ting Zhang (Department of Finance and Economics, University of Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Article publication date: 3 July 2017




The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the value of extended time span coverage of state longitudinal education and workforce data system to inform and improve the effectiveness of future high impact expenditure decisions.


It used an analytical 29-year data file created by the author that links seven already-in-place education and workforce administrative record sources. Relying on the path dependency theory, multi-level mixed-effect logistic and multi-level mixed-effect linear regression models are used to test three hypotheses.


The findings are consistent with the hypotheses: inclusion of the multiple steps along a post-secondary education pathway and prior job histories are both critical to understanding workforce outcomes mechanisms; it takes time for the employment outcome effect to be evident and strong following education attainment.

Practical implications

The study concludes with research limitations and implications for decision makers to call for retaining and investing in administrative records with extended time span coverage, particularly for the already-in-place historical administrative records.


The paper is one of the first to demonstrate the value of extended time span coverage in a longitudinal state integrated data system through econometric modeling, using longitudinally integrated data linking seven administrative records covering continuously for 29 years. No matter for prior education or employment pathway, it is only through extended time span coverage that employment outcomes can be well measured and the rich nuances interpreting the mechanisms of education return on investment can be revealed.



The author thanks David Stevens for his guidance and advice when the author worked on this research project and the author thanks the state Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation and the state Higher Education Commission for providing timely access to the data needed for this research. The author is also thankful for Dan Gerlowski’s generous help editing the final draft. Also, Jacob France Institute staff members Jing Li and John Janak contributed to the literature review and data extraction assistance.


Zhang, T. (2017), "The case for sustained investment in state longitudinal integrated data systems: The value of extended time span coverage", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 38 No. 4, pp. 614-631.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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