I begin with a brief history of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and its brilliant founding father, noting its nearly disastrous initial design, nearly fatal funding cutoffs when Nixon put the Office of Economic Opportunity out of business, and then when Reagan chopped the NSF social science budget in half, and paying honor to its exceptionally talented, long-lived and unsung staff. Since it is impossible to cover all of the lessons learned from the PSID, I concentrate on what is of greatest interest to me: the surprising degree of economic mobility in the U.S. both within and between generations, with its attendant implications for understanding the nature and developmental consequences of life cycle processes in general, and poverty and welfare dynamics in particular. As of four years ago, when I left the PSID and Michigan for Northwestern, I had spent half my life working on the PSID. Not surprisingly, my PSID phase has had a profound effect on my life. The recognition that economic fortunes bob around on a sea of demographic change led to my interest in determinants and sequelae of family composition changes. The heterogeneous nature of poverty and welfare receipt frequently transitory but a worrisome amount persistent stimulated my interest in understanding their consequences for children¹s development. Pursuing these interests has led to many interdisciplinary collaborations, a chance meeting at an airport 17 years ago with the woman who is now my wife and, in 1995, a change of jobs and disciplinary affiliation.
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