Possible Research Agendas

Possible Research Agendas

Young Adult Schooling and Work Outcomes

The young adult data provide an excellent vehicle for examining educational progressions and transitions into the work force. And again, we emphasize that these outcomes can be linked to a rich range of child and early young adult data available from many prior survey rounds (for example, how might child cognitive or behavioral trajectories be linked to greater or lesser success in later educational progressions, or how might early relationship patterns impact transitions into the workforce). Schooling and work outcomes among these young adults can also be compared with the trajectories that their mothers took a generation earlier. 

In addition to collecting detailed information about their post-secondary college experiences, when these youth were juniors/seniors in high school, they were asked about all the colleges they applied to. This information can be compared against actual college attendance. Data on specific colleges applied to and attended are available on the restricted geocode files.

In terms of employment, information is available about summer and school year employment from early adolescence onward. During the late adolescent and early adult years a lot of data is gathered regarding the nature and intensity of employment and training experiences. These data are described more fully in topic specific sections of this users guide and here we just point out that young adult educational trajectories, family transformations, and dimensions of employment can all be carefully linked in order to provide a better understanding of the associations, and perhaps causal linkages among these major life cycle events.


Geographic Moves, Location, and Employment

A special geocode file is available for all survey rounds for the main respondents in the NLSY79, and for 1994 to the current survey round for all young adults regardless of their residence. This data file can be linked with all of the NLSY79 main, younger child, and young adult data. Because many of these youth have been effectively tracked since birth, first in their mother's home and then increasingly in their own homes, these data offer unique opportunities to investigate the inherently complex connections that exist between geographic moves, early family structure transitions, and human capital. Migration of young people is an important feature of their early life course, and these geographic data permit a careful study of residential move patterns, their determinants, and consequences. The migration literature points to the importance of family connections in helping to explain migration. The residence information available for young adults can also be linked to data on their past locations, as well as to data on the current location of selected family members.

The availability of matched county-level information over most of these children's lives also allows potential connections between the residential dislocation of children and their intellectual and academic outcomes to be explored. For example, it is possible to examine whether or not younger children and young adults are academically disadvantaged if they are subject to repeated geographic movements throughout their formative years. These locational data also support explorations of how geographic trajectories might impact earnings during the early young adult years, particularly when this kind of geographic information is augmented by knowledge of school quality.


Non-Normative Behaviors across Generations

As the information we present in the section on Life Cycle Profiles for the NLSY79 Children shows, this data set presents many opportunities to look at cross-generational tendencies for family members to repeat non-normative behaviors (see the NLSY79 User's Guide for details about the mother's record). For example, the child/young adult data can be used to explore substance use trajectories over time and then to investigate possible linkages between these trajectories and a wide range of parallel child and family behaviors/attitudes. Since many of these data elements are available for both the children and their mothers at comparable life cycle points, it is possible to not only examine whether certain behaviors tend to be repeated across the generations, but also to consider the kinds of family units that appear more protective and hence evidence a better ability to break intergenerational connections of activities or behaviors that might typically be considered non-productive. Use of the young adult geocode file can further enhance these kinds of studies as the county-level identifiers that are included in the geocode file provide data to help sort out the potential relevance of area-level factors that may either additively or interactively affect connections within and between generations. 

As illustrated in the section on Life Cycle Profiles for the NLSY79 Children and Table 1 above, there are many data elements that are available for both mothers and their children including information on early sexual activity, the Rosenberg self-esteem scale, the Pearlin mastery measure, depression measures, items measuring attitudes towards the roles of women in society, school satisfaction, and early (during adolescence) expectations regarding family, education and work. All of these inputs, along with a wide range of behavioral information, permit researchers to sort out cross-generational socio-economic predictors of non-normative child behaviors from other, perhaps more subtle, non-normative mother-to-child connections. Further, this research area can be enhanced by the large number of sibling pairs available in the child/young adult generation.