Appendix 8: Instrument Rosters

National Longitudinal Survey of Youth - 1997 Cohort

Appendix 8: Instrument Rosters


The NLSY97 uses rosters in various sections in which information is collected on a number of persons, schools, or employers. Rosters are an important part of the NLSY97 data set. These grids of information help researchers to analyze data in an efficient and accurate way. However, the structure and use of rosters may be somewhat confusing, so it is vital that researchers understand how they are constructed. After describing the construction and use of rosters, the following pages list the variable names, titles, and reference numbers for the various instrument rosters used during the round 1-9 interviews. These lists are intended to aid researchers in identifying the types of information organized in each roster and to better follow the flow of information through the interview.

What is a roster?

A roster may be thought of as a list: for example, a list of household members, a list of employers, or a list of children. A respondent with two children will have data on the first two lines of the child list, or child roster. A respondent with four employers will have information on the first four lines of the employer roster. In addition to the name of the person or item (which is not released to the public), the roster contains other basic information, such as the age, race, and labor force status of household members or the start date and stop date for each employer.

In the paper-and-pencil interviews (PAPI) of older NLS cohorts, the questionnaires included a chart or grid listing this type of information, like the one shown in Figure 1 below. For example, in the household roster grid, each household member's name was entered in a separate row. The interviewer asked the respondent for each member's date of birth, enrollment status, employment status, etc., filling in the answers in the appropriate column. This completed household roster contained all the pertinent information about household residents, and researchers could easily use the variables based on this roster to examine characteristics of household members.

Figure 1. Sample PAPI Roster Grid

What are the names of all family members who are living in your home?

Name What is __'s relationship to you? How old is __ today? (Age 4 and older) Is __ enrolled in school? (Age 16 and older)
How many weeks did __ work in the last 12 months? How many hours did __ usually work per week? What kind of work was __ doing in the past 12 months?
Susan Mother 45 No 50 25 Graphic design
John Father 49 No 50 40 Banking
Jimmy Brother 17 Yes 35 15 Food service
Sally Sister 12 Yes (n/a) (n/a) (n/a)
Robert Brother 3 (n/a) (n/a) (n/a) (n/a)
Jane Grandmother 77 No 0 (n/a) (n/a)

When the NLS surveys changed to computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI), rosters became a very important way of organizing information during the interview. Instead of using an actual grid, however, CAPI questionnaires include a series of questions that gather the same types of information that would have been included in the grid in a paper-and-pencil interview. The computer then moves the answers to these questions into a grid, creating a roster from the information.

After the roster is created, it can be used to guide subsequent portions of the interview. For example, during the interview the NLSY97 questionnaire gathers the names, dates of attendance, and level of school (secondary school or college) for each of the respondent's schools and organizes them into a roster. The rest of the school section then asks questions about the first school on the roster, followed by questions about the second school, then the third, and so on. The information about the level of the school determines whether the respondent is asked questions that apply to high school or college.

The information from the roster is also presented in the data set as an organized list of data, so that these variables are easy for researchers to access. To the user, the school roster appears as a consolidated block of variables that contains key information such as dates of enrollment, an identification number for the school, and variables indicating the type (private or public) and level (junior high, high school, college) of the school. For example, the variables in the round 2 school roster are listed in Figure 2, along with their reference numbers. Thus, rosters are a way of organizing information both for researchers and for the actual interview so that questions are asked in a logical manner.

Figure 2. List of Variables in CAPI-Generated School Roster

Question Name Variable Title Reference Numbers
(one for each school)
NEWSCHOOL_PERIODS.xx Number of Times R Enrolled in School xx R24605.-R24610.
NEWSCHOOL_START1.xx Month/Year R Start 1st Enrollment in School xx R24611.00-R24616.01
NEWSCHOOL_START2.xx Month/Year R Start 2nd Enrollment in School xx R24617.00-R24620.01
NEWSCHOOL_START3.xx Month/Year R Start 3rd Enrollment in School xx R24621.00-R24621.01
NEWSCHOOL_STOP1.xx Month/Year R End 1st Enrollment in School xx R24622.00-R24627.01
NEWSCHOOL_STOP2.xx Month/Year R End 2nd Enrollment in School xx R24628.00-R24631.01
NEWSCHOOL_STOP3.xx Month/Year R End 3rd Enrollment in School xx R24632.00-R24632.01
NEWSCHOOL_SCHCODE.xx School Code Elementary, Middle, High, College R24633.-R24638.
NEWSCHOOL_INTERVIEW.xx Which Survey Round School xx Reported in R24639.-R24644.
NEWSCHOOL_TYPE.xx Type of School xx R has Attended R24645.-R24650.
NEWSCHOOL_PUBID.xx PUBID of School xx R has Attended R24651.-R24656.