Interview Methods

Interview Methods

Parent-Provided Data

One parent of the youth respondent was selected to provide information via a Parent Questionnaire in the first round. In rounds 2 through 5, a parent answered questions via a Household Income Update. After round 5, parents did not answer questions in the NLSY97.

Parent Questionnaire

The Parent Questionnaire (administered in round 1 only) collected extensive background information from one of the youth's biological parents. If no biological parent lived in the respondent's primary household, another adult household member was selected for the Parent Questionnaire according to predetermined criteria (see "Choice of Parent" below for a detailed description of this process). Table 3 shows the content found in the Parent Questionnaire.

Table 3. Content of the Parent Questionnaire

Section Prefix for question name Description of Data Collected
Information PINF Verified own and youth's data collected in the Screener, Household Roster, and Nonresident Roster Questionnaire.
Family Background P2 Gathered data about parents' family background (e.g., birthplace, siblings).
Calendars P3 Collected dates of significant events in parent's life (e.g., marital history, employment history).
Parent Health P4 Gathered information about the general state of the parents' health (e.g., long-term problems).
Income and Assets P5 Asked about 1996 earnings of all household members and other parental income and assets.
Self-Administered P6 Parent answered questions about self-esteem, religion, health, behavior/beliefs, and spouse or partner relations.
Child Calendar PC8 Gathered data about each eligible youth in the household regarding places lived, school history, paternity, adoption or custody, poverty, and child care.
Child Health PC9 Collected data about the health and health insurance of each eligible youth.
Child Income PC10 Inquired about the 1996 financial support and earnings of each eligible youth.
Expectations PC11 Asked parent to make predictions about each eligible youth's life in the next year and at age 20 and 30.
Family PC12 Collected data about the family situation by asking questions about the youth's social skills, decision-making, positive behavior, and relationships with parents.

Choice of Parent: One parent of each respondent was asked to participate in the parent interview. This parent was identified during the household roster portion of the survey. The responding parent (or guardian) was asked for extensive background information, including marital and employment histories. He or she was also asked to answer questions about the family in general, as well as to provide information about aspects of his or her (NLSY97-eligible) children's lives.

The choice of the preferred responding parent was based on the pre-ordered list in Table 4. For example, a biological mother was chosen before a biological father, and so forth. However, in some cases a parent figure lower on the list was chosen if a parent higher on the list was in the household but was not available at the time of the interview. If the youth did not live with a parent-type figure, or lived with a guardian or parent not listed, no parent was interviewed; the youth's record will not contain any data from the Parent Questionnaire. Users should note that the records of some youths who do live with a listed parent or parent-figure do not contain any data from the Parent Questionnaire due to nonresponse.

Table 4. Priority for Choosing Responding Parent for Participation in Parent Interview

1st choice Biological mother   8th choice Foster parent, youth lived with for 2 or more years
2nd choice Biological father 9th choice Other non-relative, youth lived with for 2 or more years
3rd choice Adoptive mother 10th choice Mother-figure, relative
4th choice Adoptive father 11th choice Father-figure, relative
5th choice Stepmother 12th choice Mother-figure, non-relative youth lived with for 2 or more years
6th choice Stepfather 13th choice Father-figure, non-relative youth lived with for 2 or more years
7th choice Guardian, relative    

Interviews are available with 6,124 parents; 7,942 youth respondents have information available from a parent interview. Table 5 shows the number of respondents by age who had a parent participate in the round 1 survey.

Table 5. NLSY97 Youths by Age and Parent Interview Availability

Age (birth year) Total number of youths Youths with a parent interview
12 (1984) 1771 1583 (89.4%)
13 (1983) 1807 1615 (89.4%)
14 (1982) 1841 1595 (86.6%)
15 (1981) 1874 1668 (89.0%)
16 (1980) 1691 1481 (87.6%)
Total 8984 7942 (88.4%)
Note: Table based on R05367. and R07359.

In multiple respondent households, more than one parent may have been interviewed during round 1 if the selection criteria above indicated different parents for different NLSY97-eligible youths in the household. For example, if a couple residing in a sample household each had an NLSY97-eligible youth from a previous marriage, the biological parent of each youth would be interviewed. The survey first collected parent-specific information from each parent and then asked for information about the NLSY97-eligible youth matched to that parent. In this example, each parent would be asked to provide youth-specific information for his or her NLSY97-eligible biological child.

Due to a computer programming error, however, both parents in some multiple respondent households were asked to provide youth-specific information only for the oldest NLSY97-eligible youth(s) living in the household. In the example above, both parents would be asked to give information about the older of the two children. In these infrequent instances, the correct parent-specific information is matched to each youth, but one or more youths in the household do not have any youth-specific information. This programming error was corrected during the survey period and affected only 33 youth cases.

Household Income Update

In rounds 2-5, the brief Household Income Update questionnaire collected basic income information from one of the respondent's parents (usually the parent who signed the youth's interview consent form). All respondents who lived with a parent were eligible for this questionnaire, regardless of age or other criteria for independence. If the youth respondent lived with a parent, this questionnaire collected the parent's total pre-tax income from wages, salaries, commissions, and tips during the past calendar year; the same data for the parent's spouse or partner; and the total pre-tax amount of any other income (i.e., farm or business income, inheritances, child support, government programs) received by the parent and spouse/partner together. These data were collected for the respondent's current household regardless of his or her residence during the past calendar year. Question names for the variables based on the Household Income Update begin with "HIU."

The parent answered these questions on a self-administered paper instrument. Interviewers then entered the data into a computer-assisted questionnaire on their laptops and attached the information to the records of all NLSY97 youths in the household. Additional quality control checks were performed in the central office, where hard copy questionnaires were reviewed against the coded data. In round 2, parents of 7,601 respondents answered at least one question from the Household Income Update. Parents of 5,488 respondents answered at least one question in round 3, and 5,225 parents of respondents answered at least one question in round 4. Parents of 4,090 respondents answered at least one question in round 5.

Beginning in round 6, all respondents were at least 18 years old, so the Household Income Update is no longer administered.