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National Longitudinal Surveys
Bureau of Labor Statistics > National Longitudinal Surveys > Data > NLSY79 Child and Young Adult Overview

NLSY79 Child and Young Adult Data Overview

In 1986, a separate survey of all children born to NLSY79 female respondents began, greatly expanding the breadth of child-specific information collected. In addition to all the mother's information from the NLSY79, the child survey includes assessments of each child as well as additional demographic and development information collected from either the mother or child. For children aged 10 and older, information has been collected from the children biennially since 1988 on a variety of factors including child-parent interaction, attitudes toward schooling, dating and friendship patterns, religious attendance, health, substance use, and home responsibilities. Biennially (since 1994), children ages 15 and older complete interviews modeled on the NLSY79 questionnaire. Information collected includes their schooling, training, work experiences and expectations, health, dating, fertility and marital histories, and household composition. Starting in 2016, NLSY79 children age 12 and older were included in the Young Adult data collection.

Topical Guide to the Data

The topical guide presents detailed information on major subject areas and variables in the NLSCYA survey.  The Asterisk Tables provide summary tables of variables selected from Round 1 to the latest round.  Below are the topics gathered in the survey.

Introduction to the Sample

The NLSY79 Child sample is comprised of all children born to NLSY79 mothers. Starting in 1986, the children of the NLSY79 mothers have been interviewed and assessed biennially to follow their cognitive, physical, and socio-emotional development.  Starting in 1994, children who have reached the age of 15 by the end of the survey year are no longer assessed but instead complete personal interviews similar to those given to their mothers in the main NLSY79.  The children age 15 and older became part of the NLSY79 Young Adult sample.  Starting in 2016, interviewed NLSY79 mothers completed the Mother Supplement for biological children aged 13 or younger, and children aged 12 or older were included as part of the Young Adult sample.  

As of 2016, a total of 11,530 children have been identified as having been born to the original 6,283 NLSY79 female respondents.  Of these, interviewed NLSY79 mothers completed the Mother Supplement for 85 children 13 years old or younger and 5,352 children 12 and older were interviewed as young adults (including 46 young adults whose mother also completed the Mother Supplement). Details on the sizes and eligibility criteria of the samples are discussed in the NLSY79 Child/Young Adult Sample Design.  Learn more about the survey Interview Methods, Retention, and Fielding History and Sample Issues

Using and Understanding the Data

Information on survey instruments, variable types, the interviewing process, item nonresponse, sample weights and design effects, data documentation, and how to access the data are available on the NLSY79 Child and Young Adult User Guides and Documentation section.

Other Documentation

Accessing Data

View Accessing Data for detailed information on accessing the NLSY79 Child and Young Adult public-use and the confidential files. The public-use NLS data are available on the Investigator.  The links below provide answers to frequently asked questions about requesting the NLSY79 Child and Young Adult confidential files.


Last Modified Date: April 28, 2020