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Why should I participate?

You may be wondering why you should continue to participate in the NLS, or be curious about what is in it for you!

We understand that your time is valuable, and you may not want to spend it answering questions for a survey. It’s important that you understand how important your participation in the NLS is and how it affects you, your community, and your country.

Your input is very important. How important? You, chosen randomly to participate, may actually represent hundreds or thousands of people! You are part of a small and special group, selected at the survey’s start, to represent the experiences and attitudes of your age group for the entire nation. You cannot be replaced, and sharing your story gives voice to the thousands of Americans you represent.

By participating, you make sure that the NLS represents all Americans in your age group. The information you provide creates the statistics that are used to evaluate and guide the actions of the Federal Government. By performing this public service you are helping your community, your region, and the Nation.

What makes this study so valuable and different from an average poll is that the NLS has been conducted consistently with scientific rigor. This allows researchers and policy makers to use accurate data when understanding changes in Americans’ labor market activities, education, training, family formation, and so much more, across generations.

Praise for the NLS!

“The National Longitudinal Surveys stand out because they are designed to answer key long-term questions about people’s paths through life.

The survey doesn’t just ask about labor market activity. It also asks about education, training, health, marriages and other relationships, children, use of government programs, juvenile crimes and arrests, drug and alcohol use, and much more. Why do we ask about these topics, some of which are pretty sensitive? In short, we’re trying to understand all the things that affect or are affected by labor market activity. That covers nearly every part of our lives.

This is all possible thanks to the people who have agreed to participate in the surveys across many years—so that we can understand people’s paths over time!”

-Erica L. Groshen, previous BLS Commissioner (

Last Modified Date: January 19, 2021