Life Cycle Profiles for the NLSY79 Children

Life Cycle Profiles for the NLSY79 Children

NLSY79 Mothers: Table 1, below, presents a synopsis of some of the attitudinal and behavioral questions that have been asked of mothers, and of their children when they were both pre- and early teenagers, and then again when they were young adults. When these mothers were in their middle to later adolescent years they were asked about their own educational, employment and family aspirations. The mothers' records in the NLSY79 main Youth also contain information about their progression through school, their employment experiences and their marriage and childbearing experiences, all systematically updated at every survey round. Comprehensive annual income and individual earnings information is also collected, along with household structure updates, and county of residence information (available on a separate geocode file). Attitudinal information and self-reports on mental health and wellbeing (for example attitudes towards women's roles, the Rosenberg self-esteem scale and the CES-D depression scale) are available in selected years.  A battery of tests measuring maternal cognition, plus measures of educational achievement are also available. For example, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, was administered to NLSY79 main Youth respondents in 1980 and scores are available for about 94% of the cohort's members. PSAT, SAT I, or ACT scores were also coded for about a quarter of NLSY79 respondents from Transcript Surveys between 1980 and 1983. A cognition module was added to the NLSY79 main Youth health section in 2006; this same module is included in the expanded health module introduced into the Young Adult survey in 2010. Additionally, there is a short series of questions on the mother's religious affiliation and upbringing, plus information pertaining to some of the less normative activities she might have been involved in.  Finally, the mother's first survey round in 1979 included a series of questions measuring the occupation and earnings of her parents (i.e. one set of the children's grandparents) that provides information on the socio-economic background she experienced while she was growing up.  This background input was then greatly enhanced by a detailed childhood residence history that was collected retrospectively for all NLSY79 women in 1988. We will incorporate some of this information above into our discussion of research possibilities that follows. 

NLSY79 Children 10-14: Once NLSY79 children reach age 10, they were asked about their own behaviors and experiences, and, as shown in Table 1, some of the information obtained was comparable with that obtained some years earlier from their mothers. These self-reports for children 10 and over included details about joint activities and interactions with parents, parental rules about activities and behaviors, household decision-making processes, peer pressures, attitudes about school, after-school employment and other extra-curricular activities, incipient substance use, involvement in a variety of non-normative activities, religious activities, dating relationships, sex education and expectations about future marriage and family building activities. Starting in 1992 the content of the child self-report was expanded to include details about within-family interactions, and--for those age 13 and over--items about sexual activity. Mothers were asked to report on their children's schooling success (e.g., grade repetition, reasons for success or failure), and each child ages 10-14 was asked to rate the quality of the school they attended and how they felt about their life in general. Questions about parental supervision activities were also directed to the mother.

NLSY79 Young Adults (age 15+): All children who reach their 15th birthday during the survey year are interviewed as young adults. Reports by these young adults often have considerable overlap with questions asked of their mothers at similar ages. For example, scores are available for the Pearlin Mastery, Rosenberg Self-Esteem and CES-D scales for young adults and their mothers during their late teens. Beginning in 2016, children ages 12 to 14 have also been fielded as part of the Young Adult data collection. The 14 year olds answer the same questions as the 15-16 year olds, but the 12 and 13 year olds answer far fewer questions, including some previously asked in the CSAS.

Table 1. NLSY79 Mothers & Children: Comparable Attitudinal and Behavioral Questions

NLSY79 Mothers Children 10 & Older Young Adults
Child HH Chore Expectations & Time Spent Family Decision-Making Decision making in the family, with spouse/partner, and with other parent
Childhood Residence, own Time Away from Parents; Contact with Nonresident Father Reasons Left Mother's HH; Contact with Nonresident Mother and Father
Cigarette, Alcohol, & Drug Use, own Cigarette, Alcohol, & Drug Use Cigarette, Alcohol, & Drug Use
Delinquency; Police Contact Non-Normative Behavior Delinquency; Police/Justice System Contact; Non-Normative Behavior
Depression Scale (CES-D) Child Moods Depression Scale (CES-D)
Early Childbearing Early Childbearing Early Childbearing
Early Sexual Activity Early Sexual Activity Early/Current Sexual Activity
Educational Aspirations/Expectations, self & child Educational Expectations Educational Expectations
Employment, own Employment/Work for Pay Employment
HOME Items on Family Activities Parent-Child Joint Activities Home Items asked about YA's children
Knowledge of Child's Friends How Much Tell Parents about Friends How Much Tell Parents about Friends (Under age 19)
Locus of Control Peer Pressure Peer Pressure (Under age 19)
Marriage & Birth Expectations Marriage & Birth Expectations Marriage & Birth Expectations
Neighborhood Safety Neighborhood Safety Neighborhood Safety
Parental Involvement in Child's School Parental Involvement in Child's School Parental Involvement in Child's School
Parental Monitoring Parental Monitoring Limit Setting
Parent-Child Closeness Parent-Child "Closeness"/Interaction Parent-Child "Closeness"/Interaction
Pearlin Mastery -- Pearlin Mastery
Pregnancy/AIDS Knowledge Pregnancy Knowledge Pregnancy Knowledge
Relationship (Marital) Quality Mother-Father Consensus; Dating Relationship Quality (Spouse, Partner, or Steady Boy-/Girlfriend) Mother-Father Consensus; Dating
Religion, own & child's Religion & Attendance Religion & Attendance, own and spouse/partner's
Rosenberg Self-Esteem Child Loneliness; SPPC Rosenberg Self-Esteem
School Discipline, own & child's School Discipline School Discipline
School Rating/Satisfaction, own & child's Child Satisfaction with School Child Satisfaction with School
Sex Education (NA in main Youth) Sex Education Sex Education
Trouble in School (BPI & MS child items) Bring Parent to School Bring Parent to School; BPI asked of YA's children
TV Viewing by Child TV Viewing TV Viewing
Women's Roles Gender Role Attitudes Women's Roles
NOTE: Items in the "NLSY79 Mothers" column that are qualified with "own" refer to the mother's reports about her own behavior; questions where she reports on her own AND her child(ren)'s behavior are noted.