Survey Instruments

Survey Instruments

Multiple field instruments, in both paper and computer-administered format, have been used to collect information from and about the NLSY79 children. These instruments are used to assess the children and to elicit reports about their health, aptitudes, achievement, attitudes, relationships and behaviors. A brief description of these instruments is presented below. For more detailed information, go to the following links: Child Survey Instrument Structure & Content and Young Adult Survey Instrument Structure & Content.

The Child Supplement (CS) was a questionnaire, administered in every survey year from 1986 to 2014 to each NLSY79 child eligible for interview. The CS was used by the interviewer to obtain permission from the mother, verify age and grade, measure the child's height and weight, complete the interviewer-administered assessments, and obtain reports from school-agers about their schoolwork, work for pay and religion. The Child Supplement was the key field instrument used by the interviewer to administer the child assessments directly to the child. It contained questions about school, directed to older kids, and a section where the interviewer could record any special conditions that might affect testing. The CS was also used by the interviewer to record observations about the child's home environment. From 1986-1992, the CS was administered on paper. Starting in 1994, the CS became a CAPI (computer administered personal interview) questionnaire.

A Child Self-Administered Supplement (CSAS), introduced in the 1988 survey and administered through 2014, contained questions about family interactions, attitudes, friends, and sensitive behaviors for children 10 and older. Initially a separate instrument, the CSAS was integrated into the Child Supplement in 2006.

A Mother Supplement (MS), administered from 1986 to 2016 to the mother for each child, contained mother-report assessments and questions about health, school, and family background. A limited number of questions about child health and school were asked in 2018, but no assessments were administered. NOTE: Starting with the R22-2006 survey, the Mother Supplement (MS) was integrated into the mother's main Youth questionnaire but still administered in its entirety for each child. Main youth questionnaires are available on the NLSY79 Questionnaires page; the Mother Supplement sections are also provided on the Child/YA Questionnaires page.

The Young Adult questionnaire is a CAPI instrument, first used in 1994, has been used to interview all NLSY79 children once they have reached the age of 15. Beginning in 2016, children ages 12 to 14 also complete the Young Adult questionnaire. Children age 14 answer the same questions as 15 and 16 year olds, whereas the children ages 12 and 13 answer far fewer questions, many of which were in either the Child Supplement or the Child Self-Administered Supplement. From 1994 to 1998, the Young Adult survey also included a paper supplement called the Young Adult Self-Report Booklet.  Beginning in 2000, the content of this instrument was modified and incorporated into the CAPI questionnaire. In the initial YA survey rounds, the questionnaire was modeled after the main Youth instrument but has since been revised, streamlined, and updated to reflect the content areas relevant to the activities and life stages of the young adult children.

Where to View the Questionnaires. Users are urged to examine the NLSY79 Child and Young Adult data collection instruments and relevant main NLSY79 Youth questionnaires in conjunction with the other documentation that accompanies the data files. Child and Young Adult questionnaires are available in PDF or HTML form on the Child/YA Questionnaires page; main youth questionnaires are available on the NLSY79 Questionnaires page. More detailed discussions of the content of each questionnaire and the mode of administration used in the current survey are provided the Interview Methods section.

Users also need to know how to find the specific question in the survey instruments that goes with a given variable in the data set. Information about linking the data to the questionnaires is provided in the Question Names & Reference Numbers section of this guide.