NLS Youth '79 Cohort

National Longitudinal Survey of Youth - 1979 Cohort
Short Description: 
Men and women born in the years 1957-64
Short Title: 
NLS Youth 1979
Long Name: 
National Longitudinal Survey of Youth | 1979
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Community Participation & Volunteerism

In the 2006 and 2010 survey years (and in 2012 and 2014 for those not interviewed in 2010), NLSY79 respondents reported the time they spent volunteering for causes or organizations, along with the type of organization. Approximately 22.6% of respondents in 2006 indicated they had done at least some volunteer activity in the previous calendar year, with the percentage rising to 24.6% in 2010.

As can be seen in Table 1, the pick list of causes/organizations changed in wording between 2006 and 2010.

Errata for 1979-2016 Data Release

Newest Errata


Respondent #6768 (public identification number) has been found to be missing data for two jobs in survey year 2004 (round 21) in some data tables that produce the Work History arrays, the Employer History Roster variables and several other variables. A summary of the variables affected is as follows:

NLSY79/97 Cross-Cohort Data

An NLSY79/NLSY97 cross-cohort beta release is now available on Investigator. See Appendix 13: Cross-Cohort NLSY79/97 Overview (in the NLSY97 User Guide) for information.

Errata for 1979-2014 Data Release

Newest Errata [posted 11/27/2018]

Erroneous MSA Codes (1984-1987)

A small number of Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) codes have been corrected for 16 cases between survey years 1984-1987. Users with an active agreement to use the NLSY79 Geocode data should contact User Services ( or 614-442-7366) for details. Corrections for these codes will be reflected on the next restricted Geocode data release.

NLSY79 Appendix 28: NLSY79 Employer History Roster

The Employer History Roster (EHR) has been available to public data users since 2013. This sizeable set of variables incorporates a substantial amount of information about each employer into a single record for each. See Appendix 13: Development of Questionnaires and Codebooks for a description of rosters as a data structure.

NLSY79 Appendix 27: IRT Item Parameter Estimates, Scores and Standard Errors

Item response theory (IRT) item parameter estimates, scores and standard errors have been calculated for several attitudinal scales administered in multiple NLSY79 survey years as well as in other NLS cohorts. The following PDF files provide detailed descriptions of the creation procedures for these scales:

NLSY79 Appendix 26: Non-Response to Financial Questions and Entry Points

Financial questions often elicit from respondents either a "refusal" or a "don't know" response. From 1979 to 2000 the NLSY79 interviewers faced with a "refusal" or a "don't know" simply went on to the next question. Starting in 2002, respondents have been asked to estimate financial values if they could not provide an exact value.


As the 1979 Youth cohort approached their fifties, questions were added about retirement preparation and expectations, starting with the 2006 survey year. 

Table 1 shows the retirement preparation/expectation variables and the survey years they have been asked. Variable question names begin with the "RETIRE_EXP" prefix.

Computer & Internet Access

In survey year 2000, respondents were asked if they had access to a computer at home running specified operating systems, whether they could access the web using a browser and whether they could access the internet through a modem or other connection. These questions were also asked in the 2002-2012 survey rounds but only if the respondent had not reported internet access at a previous interview.


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