Household, Geographic & Contextual Variables: An Introduction

A variety of demographic, family, and neighborhood factors can potentially affect a person's labor market attachment and educational attainment. Data supplied by the household informant and the NLSY79 respondent provide researchers with a wealth of background information about the respondent's family members and household environment. 


Date of birth information was collected from each NLSY79 respondent during the 1979 and 1981 interviews. The variable 'Age of R,' gathered during the 1979-83 surveys, is the self-reported age of the respondent as of the interview date. The NLSY79 main data files also contain a yearly created variable, 'Age of R at Interview Date.'  


Information on the sex of the respondent can be found in a single 1979 variable, 'Sex of R,' and a set of yearly interviewer remarks variables, 'Int Remarks - Sex of R.' 

Geographic Residence and Neighborhood Composition

The respondent's region of residence and geographic mobility is available to all users on the main public data file. More detailed information including state and county of residence is available on the restricted-use Geocode CD.

Household Composition

Information on the respondent's household includes the age, gender, relationship to the respondent, and educational attainment of all occupants, the enrollment status of those of school age, and the occupation and weeks worked of residents age 14 and older.

Race, Ethnicity and Immigration

Race and ethnic origin information is available for each household member identified during the 1978 household screening. A 1979 variable indicated whether a foreign language was spoken in the house during the respondent's childhood. In 2002, respondents were asked to identify their race/ethnicity using questions that conformed to Federal government definitions. The racial/ethnic identification for current and past spouse/partners is also included. Country of origin of the respondent's parents and the respondent's country of birth is available on the restricted Geocode release.

A series of immigration questions, fielded in 1990, included immigration history, immigration status, citizenship status, and the country of citizenship at the time that foreign-born respondents entered the U.S.

Computer & Internet Access

A series of questions on computer and internet access was fielded in 2000, then repeated in 2002-2012 for those who did not previously report internet access. Updated questions were asked in 2014.