In This Chapter

Chapter 7.
National Longitudinal Surveys

NLS data are important tools for economists, sociologists, psychologists, and other researchers in the study of labor supply, earnings and income distribution, job search and separation, training, and other human capital investments. In addition, these data are used to study the effect of government policies and programs on labor market behaviors.

Several comprehensive reviews of NLS research (Bielby, Hawley, and Bils, 1979; Daymont and Andrisani, 1983) and the NLS Annotated Bibliography (which provides citations and abstracts of thousands of publications, dissertations, and other research papers that have used NLS data over the years) summarize much of the work that has been generated by the NLS since the mid-1960s. A recent article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives focuses on significant areas and corresponding research done with the NLSY79 (Pergamit and others, 2001). The continued relevance of the NLS for policymakers at the Federal, State, and local levels, as well as for the research community, is summarized in The Future of the NLS: A Report from the NSF Conference on the Future of the NLS and the NLS Technical Review Committee (Center for Human Resource Research, 1989). A summary of some uses of the NLS made by the Federal Government can be found in How the Federal Government Uses Data from the National Longitudinal Surveys (Pergamit, 1991).

The broad range of core NLS data, coupled with the extensive expansion of the youth surveys, the ongoing longitudinal nature of the data, and the replication of cohorts across time, helps to make the NLS a rich and yet-to-be fully exploited source of data for the continued study of such issues as labor market behavior, life-cycle changes, the family, the aging process, retirement decisions, and geographic mobility, as well as a host of other topics and methodologies.

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Last Modified Date: October 15, 2003