Intercohort and Cross Generational Research

Intercohort and Cross Generational Research

These sections outline some research topics for which the NLSY79 Child and Young Adult data are particularly appropriate. Specific topics are not explored in depth but instead are presented as examples of a range of subjects that can be investigated. The focus here is on ways in which data from the main NLSY79 mothers, the younger children, and the young adults can be linked, allowing researchers to carry out not only within but also cross-generational research. Specific procedures for accessing and linking the various data files are discussed in Linking Children, Young Adults, and Mothers.

NOTE: Throughout these sections, the "current survey round" refers to the most recent public data release.

The NLSY79 main respondents were first interviewed in 1979.  An in-depth discussion of the information available for these main respondents is presented in the most recent NLSY79 User's Guide. As of the current survey round, the NLSY79 Child/Young Adult sample encompasses nearly all of the children that will ever be born to this cohort of women -- women who were 49-58 years old as of the current interview year -- and they range in age from infancy into their mid forties. Large samples of these children are available for analysis throughout childhood and adolescence. Further, because growing numbers of children enter the young adult ages with each survey round, researchers are able to undertake analyses relating to transitions into adulthood for increasingly representative samples of youth. In addition, large minority samples are available, and as described in the sections of this guide on the sample, a variety of sibling-oriented analyses are possible. By pooling groups of children at certain ages across a number of years, researchers can also enhance sample sizes for relatively narrow age ranges, while at the same time improving the heterogeneity of the sample.

Further, a revised custom weight program is now available that permits users to more effectively combine weighted samples across survey years. Users do need to keep in mind that the oldest children were born to young NLSY79 mothers (and that the youngest children in the current survey round were born to mothers at the oldest ages). However, this sample selection issue has become less significant over time, as with every passing survey round the older children are increasingly born to women who gave birth at mainstream childbearing ages. See the "Sample Changes over Time" paragraphs in the Sample Design section for more detailed information about maternal age at birth.