Accessing the Data using NLS Investigator

NLSY79 Child and Young Adult variables are accessed using NLS Investigator, which is available as a Web application. The main application of NLS Investigator is to access NLS variables for the purposes of identifying, selecting, extracting, and/or running frequencies or cross-tabulations.  This interface allows the researcher to connect to a database and perform variable extractions without installing any software on a local computer.  Through a personal online account, a researcher's selected variable tag sets, frequencies, and extracts are available for a specified period of time from any computer location with Web access.  Because there is one central data source for all users, researchers will have the assurance that they are always working with the most up-to-date data, and that any necessary corrections will be immediate and universal. This page gives a brief overview; detailed instructions on using the Investigator application are provided in the Investigator Guide.

Organization of Data

The NLSY79 Child and Young Adult is a panel data collection—specifically, the same persons are interviewed in multiple survey years.  The NLSY79 often asks the same questions in each interview to gauge the change in behavior and life circumstances over time.  Therefore, respondents have often answered the same or similar questions at numerous interview points since 1986 (or the birth of the respondent). 

The current Child and Young Adult data release contains the complete set of Child and Young Adult files, for all years (which can be linked with the entire record for NLSY79 females).  The Child file includes the individual items from the Child assessments as well as all the derived raw and normed assessment scores for each survey round (starting in 1986).  The current version of this file updates information for children already born as of the last survey and adds data for children born between the last and current survey rounds.  Child-specific information on the file includes demographic and family background, pre- and postnatal health history, home environment reports, child care experiences, and all items and scores from the biennial child assessments.  Constructed mother-specific variables include information on each mother's household composition, quarterly employment referenced to the birth of each child, and family background.

The Young Adult data contains questionnaire items (starting with 1994), covering areas such as work experience, military service, training, schooling, family background, relationship history, income, health, fertility, child care, and drug and alcohol use, as well as a set of created variables for each round.

The database is organized by respondent. Each respondent has a unique ID number (C00001.) which is automatically included in every extract. This ID can be used to match a respondent's records in different extracts. Also automatically included in every extract is the mother's main NLSY79 ID (C00002.), which can be used to link the child/young adult respondent with the mother's information from the main youth database. See the tutorial on linking mothers and children for step-by-step instructions.

Areas of Interest.  The main Youth and Child/Young Adult data sets are also assigned to topical  "Areas of Interest" (formerly called Record Types) in order to group the variables by topic.  Since the Child and Young Adult cases reside in the data set as one merged file, users are urged to use caution when searching or selecting "Child" versus "YA" variables.  To help users distinguish the child from young adult items, the Areas of Interest for Young Adults are prefixed with "YA."  For example, users browsing the topical "Areas of Interest" will find both YA CHILD CARE and CHILD CARE.  The former contains all the questions from the Young Adult CAPI questionnaire related to use of child care for their children.  The CHILD CARE index holds information drawn from the mother's main Youth record related to the child care experiences of the NLSY79 children, including the early experiences of the children who are now Young Adults.

Note that a number of variables in the Child dataset have been assigned to multiple Areas of Interest to maximize the likelihood that users will find appropriate variables in their search results across several topics.

NLS Investigator Search and Extraction

Variables can be reviewed using a variety of search options, including topical area of interest, "any word in context," year, reference number, and question name, as described in the Investigator Guide. Additional tips for performing effective searches are provided in the "Variable Search in the New NLS Investigator" tutorial.

Once the variables of interest have been identified and selected, the data can be extracted from NLS Investigator and saved in the user's account on the NLS server or on the user's local machine. Accompanying the data files are programs for using the data in SAS, SPSS, or STATA, along with a codebook documentation file. Again, detailed instructions on performing an extract are available in the Investigator Guide.

The Investigator also includes a link to the NLS custom weighting program, which creates a custom set of sample weights to improve a researcher's ability to accurately calculate summary statistics from multiple years of data. See the "Sample Weights" section for more information about weighting in the NLSY79 Child and Young Adult, including creating custom weights.