Financial Strain

Financial Strain

Three questions about self-perceived financial strain were asked of Young Adults for the first time in 2000 and have been asked each round since then:

  • How often they or their household puts off buying something they need
  • How much difficulty they or their household had paying bills in the last 12 months
  • At the end of each month over the past 12 months, did they or their household end up with more than enough money left over, some money left over, just enough to make ends meet, or not enough to make ends meet

Beginning in 2006, Young Adult respondents, except nonemancipated minors, have been asked whether anyone other than their spouse/partner paid part of their living expenses in the last calendar year. If they answer yes, they are further asked if this person lived in their household and how much of their living expenses this person covered.

From 2010 to 2014, the Young Adult survey included an expanded set of questions looking at the financial strain that respondents and their families might have been experiencing. Young Adults, except nonemancipated minors, were asked whether during the last 12 months they or their spouse/partner had been 60 days late in paying the following types of bills:

  • Mortgage or rent 
  • Utility bills    
  • Credit card bills
  • Car payment      
  • Other kinds of loans  
  • Other bills           

Respondents were also asked whether in the past 12 months they had:

  • Had an account sent to a collection agency            
  • Had something repossessed                             
  • Gotten a loan from a payday or other store-front lender
  • Filed for bankruptcy                                  
  • Experienced foreclosure of a property they owned or were renting      

Also asked from 2010 to 2014 were a series of questions focused on experiences with foreclosure. The first time a respondent answered these questions, the reference date used was January, 2007. After that, the reference date used was the date of last interview. Respondents who had indicated they either currently owned or had owned a home since the reference date were asked:

  • Whether they had fallen more than two months behind in their mortgage payments
  • Whether they had gone through foreclosure
  • If so, did they lose their home
  • If not, they were asked both:
    • whether they were facing possible foreclosure
    • how likely they were to fall behind in their mortgage in the next six months

Respondents who had indicated they either currently owned or had owned any other real estate since the reference date were asked the same series about their other real estate.

Comparison to other cohorts: Since 2010, the NLSY79 survey has included comparable questions about foreclosure.

Survey Instruments Questions on income are found in the Young Adult Instrument, Section 15, Income and Assets.
Area of Interest YA Income