The NLSY79 is a nationally representative sample of 12,686 young men
and women who were 14-22 years old when they were first surveyed in 1979.
These individuals were interviewed annually through 1994 and
are currently interviewed on a biennial basis. Since their first interview,
many of the respondents have made transitions from school to work, and from
their parents' homes to being parents and homeowners.
These data provide researchers an opportunity to study a large sample that represents American
men and women born in the 1950s and 1960s, and living in the United States
A key feature of this survey is that it gathers information in an event
history format, in which dates are collected for the beginning and ending
of important life events. Labor force activity is detailed in this manner.
Information includes the start and stop dates for each job held since the
last interview, periods in which individuals are not working but still
with an employer (called within-job gaps), and labor market activities
(looking for work, out of the labor force) during gaps between jobs.
Because individuals' work histories are collected in this manner, measures
of actual labor market experience, tenure with a specific employer, and
employer mobility are easily calculated. Additional information collected
in the event-history format includes marital status, fertility, and
participation in government assistance programs such as unemployment
insurance and Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).
Although a primary focus of the NLSY79 survey is labor force behavior, the
content of the survey is considerably broader. The survey contains
an expansive set of questions ranging from child-care costs to welfare
receipt. For example, the survey includes detailed questions on educational
attainment, training investments, income and assets, health conditions,
workplace injuries, insurance coverage, alcohol and substance abuse,
sexual activity, and marital and fertility histories. Additional labor
force information includes hours worked, earnings, occupation, industry,
benefits, and other specific job characteristics. [More data elements.]
Moreover, the NLSY79 includes an aptitude
measure, a school survey, and high school
transcript information. An aptitude indicator, the full Armed Services
Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) was administered to 94 percent of the
sample respondents in 1980. The ASVAB consists of 10 tests
measuring knowledge and skill in areas such as mathematics and language.
In 1980, a survey of the secondary schools attended by NLSY79 respondents
was conducted. Information gathered in the survey included school-level
characteristics as well as respondent-specific information such as
achievement test scores. In 1980-1983, the NLSY79 collected detailed
transcript information for potential high school graduates that included
coursework, grades, and attendance records.
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Last Modified Date: June 25, 2003