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National Longitudinal Surveys

More Detail on Select Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Geocode applications from outside the United States
  2. Geocode application process

Geocode Agreements from Outside the United States

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has adopted a policy not to enter into new NLS geocode letters of agreement, or extend existing agreements, with researchers outside the United States. BLS reluctantly adopted this policy because of growing concerns about protecting the confidentiality of survey respondents in an age when advances in computer technology make it easier to re-identify respondents and possibly violate their privacy. BLS is not aware of any cases in which NLS geocode recipients, either in the U.S. or abroad, have used the data intentionally for any improper purposes that would violate respondent confidentiality. Within the United States, BLS has legal remedies to prevent willful misuse of geocode data and more readily can inspect the facilities of geocode recipients periodically to ensure that the data are protected adequately from unauthorized access. For researchers outside the United States, BLS has no way to enforce U.S. privacy laws and cannot inspect their facilities. Unfortunately, this means BLS is unable to grant requests to enter into an NLS geocode letter of agreement with researchers outside the United States. The NLS public-use file, which excludes the geographic variables, still is available for all researchers to use.

More about the Geocode Process

In the NLSY Geocode application, you are asked to describe, in a few paragraphs, the research objectives of your project. You also are asked to provide information about the physical and electronic security measures in place at your institution. If your application is approved, we will send you a Letter of Agreement to be signed by an official authorized to sign the agreement on behalf of the university or institution. (You provide the name and address of this official in the application.) Enclosed with the Letter of Agreement will be copies of the BLS agent agreement to be signed by each researcher, advisor, IT support staff member, and anyone else named in your application who will have access to the NLSY Geocode data. Once we receive the signed Letter of Agreement and BLS agent agreements at BLS, we will notify you that you can order a geocode CD from our contractors at the Ohio State University Center for Human Resource Research. NLSY Geocode Letters of Agreement typically last one year for students and three years for faculty members but can be extended upon request.

The geocode application document is available online at


Last Modified Date: June 30, 2008