Public Assistance Support Sources

Public Assistance Support Sources

All survey years have included questions about public assistance income sources. The most detail has been asked about:

  • TANF, AFDC, or any other general cash assistance to needy families
  • government food stamps
  • supplemental security income or public assistance, or welfare payments from local, state or federal government

For each of these types of public assistance, respondents are asked whether they and/or (if applicable) their spouse/partner received that type of assistance in the previous calendar year. From 1994 to 1998, beginning and ending dates were collected for spells of each of these types of assistance, as was the amount per week received in each spell. Beginning in 2000, the amount of detail collected was reduced and since then respondents have provided the following information about themselves and/or their spouse/partner:

  • Whether they had received  that form of public assistance 
  • The number of months they received that form of public assistance
  • The amount received in the last month they received that form of public assistance

In all survey rounds, Young Adults have additionally been asked whether or not they received any of the following:

  • Any WIC benefits
  • Any educational benefits for veterans under the G.I. Bill or V.E.A.P.
  • Any (other kinds of)scholarships, fellowships, or grants
  • Any (other) veterans’ benefits, worker's compensation, disability payments, or payments from Social Security

Respondents who report having received any (other) veterans’ benefits, worker's compensation, disability payments, or payments from Social Security are asked the total amount received from all such benefits.

Respondents are also asked whether they live in public housing or pay lower rent or receive a rent subsidy because the federal, state, or local government was paying part of the cost. 

Comparison to Other NLS Surveys:  Information on public assistance has been regularly collected for each cohort as part of the income section. Additionally, the NLSY79 data include a series of created variables detailing spells of program participation and amounts of assistance received. Consult the appropriate cohort's User's Guide for details.

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