Possible Research Agendas

Possible Research Agendas

 

Introduction

In this section we present examples of a number of research options for which the current data set is highly appropriate. Again we consider both within- and cross-generational research possibilities as we emphasize that a strength of these data is that not only can they be used to explore connections between childhood, adolescence and adulthood, but also to examine connections across generations going back to maternal ages that closely match the ages many of our young adults are now. Additionally, the NLSY79 has large samples at many ages, a large sibling sample, and substantial minority oversamples. 

The primary limitation to using the NLSY79 Child and Young Adult data is that these young adults cannot be generalized to the overall US population of similar ages. Although their mothers are representative of youth ages 14-21 who were living in the United States in 1979, the sample has not been refreshed to reflect changing population characteristics resulting from immigration. However, a subset of these children can be compared with members of the NLSY97 cohort as there is overlap in the years of birth between the two data sets, and the NLSY97 is nationally representative.  Additionally, as pointed out earlier, the older young adults are primarily born to younger mothers. However, with every passing wave of data collection, this issue of heterogeneity at the older child ages becomes less of a limitation as the young adult sample is not only increasing in size, but the older young adults are becoming more representative of a broader spectrum of individuals in their twenties who have been born to a more representative group of women. And importantly, the older children at this time represent an ideal sample for exploring a wide range of programmatic and policy issues related to the adjustment process and mainstream economic and social assimilation of disadvantaged youth, while at the same time permitting comparisons with children who have been born to relatively younger but middle class mothers. Samples at the younger ages, however, are quite heterogeneous, especially when children from different birth cohorts are pooled. 

We present topical information pertaining to mothers and to their children in both childhood and young adulthood in Table 1.  Information from this table will be selectively utilized in our research examples below.

Table 1.  Cross-Generational Research Possibilities

Maternal Background & Inputs Childhood Mediators YA Mediators & Outcomes

Demographic
Race/Ethnicity
Religion
Region
Urban/Rural
Migration Patterns
Behavioral
Age at Menarche
Age at 1st Sex
Age at 1st Birth
Age at 1st Drug Use
Age at 1st Marriage
Deviant Activity
Social Psychological
Self-Esteem
Depression
Locus of Control
Mastery
Women's Roles
Early Formative Influences
Goals/Expectations for Education
Educational Attainment
School to Work Transition
Marital History/Relationship Quality
Job History
Military Service
Recipiency
Father's Background (for years married to mother)

Pre-/Postnatal Information
Maternal Work History
Child Care in 1st Three Years
Temperament
Motor and Social Development
Body Parts
Memory for Location
Digit Span
PIAT Math
PIAT Reading
PPVT-R
HOME
BPI (Behavior Problems)
SPPC (Self Perception)
Preschool/Head Start
Schooling
Health
Relationship with Parents
Risk Taking
Depression
Gender
Attitudes
TV Viewing
Physical development (height & weight)
Early work for pay

Demographic
Race/Ethnicity
Religion
Region
Urban/Rural
Migration Patterns
Behavioral
Age at Menarche
Age at 1st Sex
Age at 1st Birth
Age at 1st Drug Use
Age at 1st Marriage
Age at 1st Cohabitation
Deviant Activity
Sexual Activity
Dating Activity
Social Psychological
Self-Esteem
Depression
Mastery
Women's Roles
Goals/Expectations for Education
Educational Attainment
School to Work Transition
Marital History/Relationship Quality
Job History
Military Service
Recipiency
Transition to Parenthood
Parenting attitudes and behaviors
Father's Background (for non-residential fathers)

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