Intro to the NLS

The National Longitudinal Surveys (NLS) are a set of surveys designed to gather information at multiple points in time on the labor market activities and other significant life events of several groups of men and women. For more than 4 decades, NLS data have served as an important tool for economists, sociologists, and other researchers.The NLS program includes the following cohorts:

NLS Youth 1997 (NLSY97): Men and women born in the years 1980-84; respondents were ages 12-17 when first interviewed in 1997. This cohort is ongoing.

NLS Youth 1979 (NLSY79): Men and women born in the years 1957-64; respondents were ages 14-22 when first interviewed in 1979. This cohort is ongoing.

NLSY79 Children and Young Adults: Biological children of women in the NLSY79; assessments of children began in 1986 and separate young adult interviews started in 1994. This cohort is ongoing.

NLS Young and Mature Women (NLSW): Young women born in the years 1943-53 and mature women born in the years 1922-37. The Young Women's survey includes women who were ages 14-24 when first interviewed in 1968. The Mature Women's survey includes women who were ages 30-44 when first interviewed in 1967. These surveys were discontinued in 2003.

NLS Young and Older Men (NLSM): Young men born in the years 1941-52 and older men born in the years 1906-21. The Young Men's survey, which was discontinued in 1981, includes men who were ages 14-24 when first interviewed in 1966. The Older Men's survey, which was discontinued in 1990, includes men who were ages 45-59 when first interviewed in 1966.

Information about the survey methods and interview years for each cohort is summarized in Table 1 below. For detailed information about each cohort's sample design and screening process, interview methods, and more, see the "Intro to the Sample" page of each cohort's individual section of this website (follow the links in the table).

Table 1. The NLS: Cohorts, Sample Sizes, Interview Years & Status
Cohort Age Cohort Birth Year Cohort Initial Sample Size Initial/Latest Survey Year # of Surveys to Date Survey Status
NLSY97 12-16 (as of 12/31/96) 1980-84 8984 1997/2013 16 Continuing
NLSY79 14-21 (as of 12/31/78) 1957-1964 12686 1979/2012 25 Continuing
Birth-14 -- see footnote 2 1986/2012 14 Continuing
15 & older -- see footnote 2 1994/2012 10 Continuing
Young Women 14-24 (as of 12/31/67) 1943-53 5159 1968/2003 22 Ended
Mature Women 30-44 (as of 3/31/67) 4/1/22-3/31/37 5083 1967/2003 21 Ended
Young Men 14-24 (as of 3/31/66) 4/1/41-3/31/52 5225 1966/1981 12 Ended
Older Men 45-59 (as of 3/31/66) 4/1/06-3/31/21 5020 1966/1990 133 Ended
 
1 NLSY79 Young Adult respondents were initially interviewed as part of the NLSY79 Children sample. Beginning in 1994, those age 15 and older were surveyed separately. In 1998 only, young adults age 21 and older were not interviewed.
2 The sizes of the NLSY79 Children and Young Adult samples are dependent on the number of children born to NLSY79 respondents. Since this number increased across rounds, original sample sizes are omitted. As of 2010, 10,487 children have been interviewed in at least one round.
3 Twelve interviews occurred from 1966-83. The 1990 interview surveyed living respondents and next-of-kin of deceased respondents.

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