Accessing NLS Data
NLS public-use data for each cohort are available at no cost via the Investigator, an online search and extraction site that enables you to review NLS variables and create your own data sets. It is not necessary to get an account to browse data, but an account is necessary to save datasets online.
The Investigator User's Guide describes how to use this website.
An available tutorial also teaches how to search for variables in the Investigator.
For users who have the capacity to utilize extremely large data files and the programs to handle them, downloads are available for each cohort.
NLSY Geocode Data
NLSY79, NLSY79 Young Adult, and NLSY97 confidential geocode data include the respondent's state, county and MSA of residence and codes identifying colleges attended. These restricted-use data are a small subset of the NLS dataset and when provided to the researcher, the included respondent ID variable facilitates linking to the public use data. More detail about the variables on the geocode data files is available in the NLSY79 Geocode Codebook Supplement and the NLSY97 Geocode Codebook Supplement.
To protect the confidentiality of respondents, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) only grants access to geocode files for researchers in the United States who agree in writing to adhere to the BLS confidentiality policy and whose projects further the mission of BLS and the NLS program to conduct sound, legitimate research in the social sciences. Applications from abroad cannot be accepted. Applicants must provide a clear statement of their research methodology and objectives and explain how the geocode data are necessary to meet those objectives. Researchers who are granted access to NLS geocode files may use them at their own facilities, provided that the facilities meet BLS security requirements (more detail on Geocode application process).
The geocode application document is available online.
NLSY Restricted-Use Zip Code and Census Tract Data
For researchers who want to measure smaller geographic areas, the NLSY79 and NLSY97 surveys have restricted-use zip code and Census tract files. These files also include all of the geocode data.
These confidential files are available for use only at the BLS National Office in Washington, DC, and at Federal Statistical Research Data Centers (FSRDCs) on statistical research projects approved by BLS. Access to data is subject to the availability of space and resources. Information about applying to use the zip code and Census tract data is available on the BLS Restricted Data Access page.
NLSY97 Restricted-Use School Survey Data
The 1996 NLSY97 School Survey contains all public and private schools with a 12th grade in the 147 nationally representative primary sampling units (PSUs) used for the NLSY97 sample construction. School characteristics were specifically targeted to gain information on school-to-work programs. The 2000 NLSY97 School Survey is a sample of all schools in the original 1996 NLSY97 school survey. In addition, vocational education school in the PSUs are included in the sample. Where NLSY97 respondents have moved to secondary schools with a 12th grade outside the 147 PSUs, those schools also are included. The School & Transcript Survey section of the NLSY97 Topical Guide provides details about sample sizes and the types of information available.
Like the restricted-use zip code and Census tract data, the school survey files are available for use only at the BLS National Office in Washington, DC, and at Federal Statistical Research Data Centers (FSRDCs) on statistical research projects approved by BLS. Access to data is subject to the availability of space and resources. Information about applying to use the school survey data is available on the BLS Restricted Data Access page.
NLSW and NLSM Restricted-Use Geographic Variables
Because data collection for the Orignal Cohorts was performed by the Census Bureau, geographic data are handled differently than the NLSY cohorts. The only geographic indicator available on the public data set is South/nonSouth region of residence. All other geographic variables are restricted to access only at Federal Statistical Research Data Centers that have been established in several locations around the country.
For the NLS of Older Men and the NLS of Young Men, variables are available on the State and county of residence in each round of the surveys. A variable also is available on the Primary Sampling Unit from which the samples were selected in the first round of the surveys in 1966.
For the NLS of Mature Women and the NLS of Young Women, many more geographic variables are available. These variables include State, county, census tract and block, and latitude and longitude of residence in each round of the surveys. Variables are available on whether a respondent moved to a different address from one round of the survey to the next. A variable also is available on the Primary Sampling Unit from which the samples were selected in the first round of the surveys in 1967 (Mature Women) and 1968 (Young Women). In addition, variables are available on the names and locations of colleges and universities that respondents attended.
Last Modified Date: April 24, 2020