Young Women Attitude Variables

In many surveys, respondents answered questions about their attitudes. Many questions referred to attitudes about work and retirement. Periodically, the surveys asked about educational and occupational goals, housework, child care, and satisfaction with life in general.

Attitudes toward women working

The 1972, 1978, 1983, and 1988 surveys asked women about their opinions on the employment of wives. Table YW1 presents reference numbers for these statements about married women's participation in the paid labor market by survey year.

Table YW1. Reference Numbers for Attitudes toward Wives Working Questions

Statement Survey Year
1972 1978 1983 1988
Modern conveniences permit a wife to work without neglecting her family R03867.00 R06336.00 R08630.00 R11590.00
Women's place is in the home R03868.00 R06337.00 R08631.00 R11591.00
Job provides wife with interesting outside contacts R03869.00 -- -- --
Wife with a family doesn't have time for employment R03870.00 R06338.00 R08632.00 R11592.00
Working wife feels more useful R03871.00 R06339.00 R08633.00 R11593.00
Employment of wives leads to more juvenile delinquency R03872.00 R06340.00 R08634.00 R11594.00
Working wives help raise the standard of living R03873.00 -- -- --
Working wives lose interest in home and family R03874.00 -- -- --
Employment of parents needed to keep up with cost of living R03875.00 R06341.00 R08635.00 R11595.00
It is better for all if man is outside achiever & woman takes care of family -- R06342.00 R08636.00 R11596.00
Men should share the work around the house with women -- R06343.00 R08637.00 R11597.00
Working mothers can have as secure relationship with child as non-working mothers -- R06344.00 R08638.00 R11598.00
Women are happier if they stay home & take care of kids -- R06345.00 R08639.00 R11599.00
Rearing children should not inhibit career -- R06346.00 R08640.00 R11600.00

A three-question series asked in 1968, 1972, 1978, and 1983 assessed respondents' approval of women working. On a scale of definitely all right to definitely not all right, respondents indicated their opinion about women working if necessary to make ends meet, if the woman desires and the husband agrees, and if the woman desires and the husband disagrees. Related questions, including her husband's attitude toward the respondent's working, were asked at select survey points (see Table YW2).

Table YW2.  Summary of Work Attitudes Questions by Survey Year

Question Year
Would you say that during the past year there has been any change in your feeling about having a job outside the home for pay, in what way and why? 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973
If, by some chance, you and your husband were to get enough money to live comfortably without working, do you think you would work anyway, why and on what would it depend? 1970, 1972, 1978, 1983, 1988
In this family situation, how do you feel about the mother taking a full-time job outside the home - to make ends meet, if husband agrees, if husband disagrees? 1968, 1972, 1978, 1983
How does your husband feel about your working (employed )? 1968, 1972, 1978, 1983
How do you think your husband would feel about your working now (out of labor force)? 1968, 1972, 1978, 1983


User Notes

The attitudes toward women working questions have also been asked of the Mature Women and NLSY79 respondents in multiple surveys, permitting comparisons across generations and over time. Questions on household tasks have likewise been addressed to Mature Women and NLSY79 respondents.

Attitudes toward retirement

As this cohort aged, the surveys began eliciting attitudes and expectations about retirement. In 1995-2001, Young Women responded to a series of statements on their attitudes toward retirement in general. These questions (e.g., R42013.00‑R42017.00) asked respondents to agree or disagree with statements such as "Work is the most meaningful part of life" and "People who don't retire when they can afford to are foolish."

Attitudes toward life

In addition to attitudes about work and working, respondents provided data on their feelings about life in general. In the 1980, 1982, and 1985-2003 surveys, respondents answered a global life satisfaction question on how they were feeling these days (e.g., R15693.00). They were asked to classify themselves overall as very happy, somewhat happy, somewhat unhappy, or very unhappy. Additional measures of psychological well-being are discussed in the Psychological Well Being section.

Attitudes toward housekeeping and child care

Respondents were asked about their opinions on working in the home as a part of the non-paid labor force. Specifically, at five-year intervals (beginning in 1978) respondents were asked for their attitudes about domestic labor and child care. In 1978, 1983, and 1988, respondents were asked, "How do you feel about keeping house in your own home?" and "How do you feel about taking care of children?" In 1971, employed women with children were asked to state their attitude toward child care centers. See the Child Care section of this guide for more information about child care arrangements.

At select survey points, the women were asked more detailed questions about their responsibility for a variety of household tasks. In the 1975, 1978, 1982, 1983, and 1987 surveys, a series of questions was asked of respondents about the degree of their responsibilities for select household chores. The response categories included respondent has sole responsibility, respondent shares responsibility, others have responsibility, and not applicable. In some of these survey years, respondents who answered that they shared responsibility for a particular task with others or that others had sole responsibility for the task were asked for their relationship to the other person who usually performed (shared) the task. In addition, those women who shared responsibility with someone else for a given task were asked the frequency (less than half of the time, about half the time, or more than half the time) with which they performed the task. In the 1982 survey, respondents were asked how they felt about performing each task (like, dislike, or don't mind). Table YW3 summarizes this series of items.

Table YW3.  Reference Numbers for Questions on Respondent Responsibility for Household Tasks

  Year Child care Cleaning dishes Cleaning house Cooking Family paperwork Grocery shopping Care of ill/ disabled Washing clothes Yard/home maintenance
Extent of respondent responsibility for task1
1975 R05314.00 R05316.00 R05317.00 R05315.00 -- R05313.00 -- R05318.00 R05319.00
1978 R06311.00 R06315.00 R06317.00 R06313.00 -- R06309.00 -- R06319.00 R06321.00
1982 R07905.00 R07911.00 R07914.00 R07908.00 R07923.00 R07902.00 -- R07917.00 R07920.00
1983 R08601.00 R08607.00 R08610.00 R08604.00 R08619.00 R08596.00 -- R08613.00 R08616.00
1987 R10772.00 R10775.00 R10776.00 R10774.00 R10779.00 R10771.00 R10773.00 R10777.00 R10778.00
Relationship of other person sharing/performing task
1978 R06312.00 R06316.00 R06318.00 R06314.00 -- R06310.00 -- R06320.00 R06322.00
1982 R07906.00 R07912.00 R07915.00 R07909.00 R07924.00 R07903.00 -- R07918.00 R07921.00
1983 R08602.00 R08608.00 R08611.00 R08605.00 R08620.00 R08599.00 -- R08614.00 R08617.00
Frequency respondent performs task
1983 R08603.00 R08609.00 R08612.00 R08606.00 R08621.00 R08600.00 -- R08615.00 R08618.00
Respondent's attitude toward performing task
1982 R07907.00 R07913.00 R07916.00 R07910.00 R07925.00 R07904.00 -- R07919.00 R07922.00
1 Numbering of response categories may change over time. Users should consult the codebook for precise coding

Related Variables: The Aptitude, Achievement & Intelligence Scores section provides information about the "Knowledge of the World of Work" scale. The Job Satisfaction section describes questions about the respondent's attitude toward her current or most recent job. The Job Search section discusses questions about reservation wages, hypothetical job offers, and plans to seek work in the future. See the Psychological Well Being for additional measures of emotional well-being.

Survey Instruments: Questions on attitudes can be found in various questionnaire sections, including "Work Attitudes and Job Plans," "Work Experience and Attitudes," "Work Attitudes," "Attitudes Toward Woman's Role," "Attitudes," "Health," and "Future Plans."