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National Longitudinal Surveys

Children of the NLSY Interviews

The Interviews

Data on NLSY children are provided by the children, their mothers (or, occasionally, other guardians), and by NORC interviewers who are trained to directly assess each child and provide evaluations of the home environment. Child interviews through 1992 were conducted primarily in person using a traditional paper and pencil interview method.

Each child assessment interview includes the administration of a set of supplementary instruments, i.e., the Mother Supplement, Child Supplement and, for age-eligible children, the Child-Self-Administered Supplement. Questions in these documents:

  • elicit maternal reports on each child's background, home environment, schooling, health, temperament, behavior problems, and motor - social development;
  • directly assess a child's development via the administration of such nationally-normed tests as the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Revised (PPVT-R), the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (WISC-R): Digit Span Subscale, the Peabody Individual Achievement Test (PIAT): Math, Reading Recognition and Reading Comprehension assessments, the McCarthy Scale of Children's Abilities: Verbal Memory Subscale and such other assessments as Harter's Self-Perception Profile for Children (SPPC) and Kagan's Memory for Location and Parts of the Body;
  • gather self-reports from those children ten years of age or older on a variety of factors including child-parent interactions, child home responsibilities, attitudes towards school, employment, religious attendance, sexual activity, substance use, dating and friendship patterns, and future education-family-and career expectations; and
  • record the interviewers' observations of each child's home environment and their evaluation of the testing conditions.

The numbers of children for whom valid scores on a given assessment were obtained vary across child survey years and are a function of the sampling issues discussed above and the numbers of age-eligible children designated (and available) for assessment in a given survey year. As indicated below, not all instruments were fielded in each child survey year and select instruments were only administered to those children for whom no valid score had been obtained during a previous survey. Beginning with the 1988 survey, all children ages 10 or 11 are designated to complete any assessment for which they are age-eligible in order to establish a representative index group for future analyses.


Last Modified Date: October 16, 2001