Race & Ethnicity

Race & Ethnicity



Created variables


The variable CRACE (child reference number C00053.00) in the NLSY79 Child datafile is the mother's race and corresponds to the 'Racial/Ethnic Cohort from Screener' (R02147.00) in the NLSY79 main Youth. This variable designates the respondent as "Hispanic," "black," or "nonblack/non-Hispanic" and provides the basis for weighting NLSY79 data. This variable is collapsed from R01736.00 (SAMPLE-ID in the Child data), 'Sample Identification Code,' which includes such values as "supplemental male black" or "cross-sectional female Hispanic." This code was assigned by NORC to each respondent based on information gathered during the 1978 household screening. In the creation of the 'Sample Identification Code' and thus the 'Racial/Ethnic Cohort' variable, both race and ethnic origin information collected at the time of the 1978 household screening were used. 

In the NLSY79 Young Adult, the variable YARACE corresponds directly to CRAC, based directly on the mother's main Youth variable R02147.00. However, YARACE is created only for young adults ever interviewed as young adults, while the variable CRACE is created for all children in the database, regardless of age.

Survey Instruments Child race is assigned as the mother's race from the mother's main Youth interview.
Areas of Interest CHILD BACKGROUND


Young Adult

Created variables

YARACE (Y06775.00). Race of Young Adult (Racial/Ethnic Cohort of Mother from Screener)

First-time Young Adults are asked to self-identify their race and ethnic background and give their father's race. Beginning in 2000, Young Adults provided the race/ethnicity of their spouse/partner as well.

Which Young Adults have been asked their race and ethnicity has differed across survey rounds as has the structure of the questions asked:

  • In 1994, all respondents were asked both a six-category race/ethnicity question [Black, White (non-Hispanic), Hispanic, American Indian, Asian or Pacific Islander, or Other (SPECIFY)] as well as a detailed ethnic identification question paralleling that asked of their mothers in 1979.
  • In 1996, Young Adults not interviewed in 1994 were asked the same two questions.
  • In 1998, all Young Adults were branched into these questions because the structure of the race/ethnicity questions was changed significantly. Respondents were initially asked if they were of Hispanic origin, followed by a six-category question asking whether they considered themselves White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, or Other (SPECIFY).
  • The category of "American Indian or Native American" in the detailed ethnicity question was changed to "American Indian" beginning in 1998 in order to reduce confusion on the part of respondents.
  • Beginning in 2000, the six-category race question was asked in a "code all that apply" format.
  • Since 2000, only new Young Adults are asked the race and ethnicity questions about themselves and their father.

Comparison to Other NLS Cohorts: Race is available for all cohorts; ethnicity is available for all cohorts except the Older Men and Young Men. Users should be aware that coding categories for race and ethnicity have varied among cohorts and over time. For more precise details about the content of each survey, consult the appropriate cohort's User's Guide using the tabs above for more information.

Survey Instruments Questions on race and ethnicity are found in the Young Adult Instrument, Section 2, Family Background, and Section 3, Dating and Relationship History.
Areas of Interest YA Family Background (self-reported and father's race/ethnicity)
YA Common Key Variables (for race/ethnic cohort from mother's screener)
YA Dating and Marriage (for spouse/partner's race/ethnicity)