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How the Federal Government Uses Data from the National Longitudinal Surveys

Michael R. Pergamit


This paper gives some recent examples of uses of how the U.S. Government uses National Longitudinal Surveys (NLS).

In illustrating governmental uses of the NLS data in the United States, I will focus primarily on uses of the NLSY because it is most similar to the Australian Longitudinal Survey (ALS), for which it served as a model. The examples discussed in this paper come from a variety of uses made by the U.S. Government. Some were requested to help prepare specific legislation; some were used as general background for a body of legislation; some were special Government reports; and others were part of our extramural research program. In each example, I hope to illustrate different uses of the data within the U.S. Excluding the extramural research, most of the uses do not involve sophisticated econometrics but provide insight into specific questions. I have attempted to choose examples which fully exploit the longitudinal nature of the data.

I have chosen six different areas of research to demonstrate use of the NLSY and discuss some of the findings. These areas are recent minimum wage legislation, wage paths of young people, the transition from school to work, work and the family, training, and the effects of military experience on post service success of low-aptitude recruits. Each of these areas is described in a separate section and discusses one or more studies.