The NLSY97 consists of a nationally representative sample of approximately 9,000 youths who were 12 to 16 years old as of December 31, 1996. Round 1 of the survey took place in 1997. In that round, both the eligible youth and one of that youth's parents received hour-long personal interviews. In addition, during the screening process, an extensive two-part questionnaire was administered that listed and gathered demographic information on members of the youth's household and on his or her immediate family members living elsewhere. Youths are interviewed on an annual basis. 

The NLSY97 is designed to document the transition from school to work and into adulthood. It collects extensive information about youths' labor market behavior and educational experiences over time. Employment information focuses on two types of jobs, "employee" jobs where youths work for a particular employer, and "freelance" jobs such as lawn mowing and babysitting. These distinctions will enable researchers to study effects of very early employment among youths. Employment data include start and stop dates of jobs, occupation, industry, hours, earnings, job search, and benefits. Measures of work experience, tenure with an employer, and employer transitions can also be obtained. Educational data include youths' schooling history, performance on standardized tests, course of study, the timing and types of degrees, and a detailed account of progression through post-secondary schooling.

Aside from educational and labor market experiences, the NLSY97 contains detailed information on many other topics. Subject areas in the questionnaire include: Youths' relationships with parents, contact with absent parents, marital and fertility histories, dating, sexual activity, onset of puberty, training, participation in government assistance programs, expectations, time use, criminal behavior, and alcohol and drug use. Areas of the survey that are potentially sensitive, such as sexual activity and criminal behavior, comprise the self-administered portion of the interview.

One unique aspect of the NLSY97 is that Round 1 contains a parent questionnaire that generates information about the youths' family background and history. Information in the parent questionnaire includes: parents' marital and employment histories, relationship with spouse or partner, ethnic and religious background, health (parents and child), household income and assets, participation in government assistance programs, youths' early child-care arrangements, custody arrangement for youth, and parent expectations about the youth.

Additional efforts provide information that will greatly enhance the research uses of the NLSY97. In 1997 and early 1998, the NLSY97 respondents were given the computer-adaptive version of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (CAT-ASVAB). The CAT-ASVAB comprises 10 tests that measure knowledge and skill in a number of areas including mathematics and language.

High School Transcripts. In spring of 2000, high school transcripts were collected for NLSY97 born in 1980 and 1981 who provided written permission to contact their schools. A second phase of collecting the remaining high school transcripts began in 2004. [More ]

In 1996 and again in 2000, surveys were conducted of all schools with a 12th grade in the statistical sampling areas in which NLSY97 respondents reside. The surveys gathered information about the characteristics of each school, the staff, and the student body. [More]

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Last Modified Date: September 14, 2006