The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79) is a representative national sample of persons who were born in the years 1957 to 1964 and lived in the U.S. in 1978. These respondents were ages 14 to 22 when the first round of interviews began in 1979; they will be ages 55 to 62 as of December 31, 2019. The NLSY79 was conducted annually from 1979 to 1994 and has been conducted biennially since 1994. The longitudinal focus of this survey requires information to be collected from the same individuals over many years in order to trace their education, training, work experience, fertility, income, and program participation.
Funding for the NLSY79 Child and Young Adult surveys is provided by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development through an interagency agreement with the BLS and through a grant awarded to researchers at the Ohio State University Center for Human Resource Research (CHRR). The interagency agreement funds data collection for children and young adults up to age 24. The grant funds data collection for young adults age 25 and older. In addition to the reports that the BLS produces based on data from the NLSY79, members of the academic community publish articles and reports based on NLSY79 data for the DOL and other funding agencies. To date, more than 2,700 articles examining NLSY79 data have been published in scholarly journals.
The BLS invites comments (by 2/25/20) on its plans for the design of Round 29 of the NLSY79 and the associated surveys of biological children of female NLSY79 respondents.
The Young Adult Survey will be administered to young adults age 12 and older who are the biological children of female NLSY79 respondents. These young adults will be contacted regardless of whether they reside with their mothers. Members of the Young Adult grant sample are contacted for interviews every other round once they reach age 31. The NLSY79 Young Adult Survey involves interviews with approximately 6,326 young adults ages 12 and older. Of those, 4,555 will be contacted for interview in Round 29.
During the field period, about 100 main NLSY79 interviews will be validated to ascertain whether the interview took place as the interviewer reported and whether the interview was done in a polite and professional manner.
BLS has undertaken a continuing redesign effort to examine the current content of the NLSY79 and provide direction for changes that may be appropriate as the respondents age. The 2020 instrument reflects a number of changes recommended by experts in various fields of social science and by our own internal review of the survey's content. Additions to the questionnaire are accompanied by deletions of previous questions so that the overall time required to complete the survey should be lower than in 2018 and comparable to 2016.
The Round 29 questionnaire includes new questions on cognition and add questions on wealth. Questions that assess the cognitive functioning of the respondents will be added to Round 29 for all respondents. The first type ask the respondent to self-rate memory and change in memory. The next type of questions collect assessments of memory. These include word recall (both immediate and delayed), backward counting, and serial subtraction from 100 by 7s. These items were collected previously from NLSY79 respondents around age 48. Some new items will be included in this cognition battery that ask the date, the name of the president, and the name of common items from their definition. In addition, the assets module that has been asked in odd-numbered rounds since Round 19 will rotate back into the questionnaire.
Most of the changes made to the Young Adult questionnaire for 2020 have been made to streamline questions and sections in order to cut down on the amount of time it takes for a respondent to complete an interview. The Young Adult sample expects to include 459 respondents ages 12-22 and 4,096 respondents age 23 and older in Round 29.
The questions added to the Young Adult questionnaire expand our understanding of both physical and mental/emotional health and well-being such as gender identity and sexual orientation, resiliency, loneliness and social isolation, self-worth, and social cognition.