Created Variables

CV_INCOME_GROSS_YR. Calculated total household income in the previous calendar year. Several questions were combined to create this income variable:  non-farm and farm wages, the wages of the respondent's spouse/partner, child support, interest and dividends from stocks or mutual funds, rental income, retirement pension/alimony/Social Security payments, parents' income if the respondent resided with them, monetary gifts (other than allowance) from parents, public support sources, and other income. Available for rounds 1-7. This variable is no longer created due to a change in the wording of questions asked during the survey. 

CV_INCOME_FAMILY. Calculates respondent's total family income in the previous year. Available for rounds 8 and up. As with CV_INCOME_GROSS_YR, this variable is calculated using the combination of several income questions. 

Note about the difference between the two CV_INCOME variables: In rounds 1-7, questions in the income section asked the NLSY97 respondent about the income of each current household member age 14 and over, thus allowing the creation of CV_INCOME_GROSS_YR, the total household income for a particular year. Starting in round 8, the wording of some income questions changed, and total household income could no longer be calculated. This necessitated a different total income variable to be created, CV_INCOME_FAMILY, which provides the total family income rather than total household income. 

CV_HH_POV_RATIO. A ratio comparing the gross household income variable (rounds 1-7) or the gross family income variable (rounds 8 and up) to the federal poverty level for previous year, taking household size into account.

CV_HH_INCOME_SOURCE. Indicated whether these variables were based on youth or parent data in round 1. 


Important Information About Using Income Data

1. Researchers using income data should be aware of survey practices with respect to item nonresponse and topcoding high income values. These issues are discussed in Income, Assets & Program Participation: An Introduction.

2. In earlier rounds, the term "independent youth" was used frequently when describing income-related data. To be considered independent, a respondent had at least one of these characteristics: was age 18 or older, had a child, was enrolled in a 4-year college, was or had been married or was in a marriage-like relationship (defined in rounds 1-8 as a sexual relationship where partners of the opposite sex live together) at the time of the survey, was no longer enrolled in school, or was not living with any parents or parent-figures. Beginning in round 8, all respondents were classified as independent. 

The NLSY97 collects gross wage and salary data for the past calendar year from all respondents. (Note: Because the NLSY97 changed from annual to biennial data collection in round 16, a question was added in round 16 to account for the skipped year when asking about income.) In addition to income from a regular job, the survey instructs respondents to include income from odd jobs, temporary or seasonal work, and military positions. 

Once youth respondents were considered independent, they answered more extensive questions about income in the past calendar year (for those interviewed in the fall) or the year before the past calendar year (if interviewed in the spring) in addition to wages and salary. First, they report any income received from self-employment, including a farm, business, or professional practice. Respondents who are married or living with a partner report the amount of wage and salary income the spouse/partner received, as well as the amount earned from any self-employment. A series of questions then records income received by the respondent and spouse or partner together from the following sources: child support; interest payments; dividend payments; rental properties; inheritance, trust, or annuity income; and other income received in the last calendar year. Some sources considered "other income" include Social Security, alimony, or survivor's benefits. If respondents or their spouses/partners have any sources of income, they state whether they claimed an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) on their federal income tax return for the past calendar year.

Independent youths in rounds 1-7 also reported parental transfers in the past year. Aside from allowances and parental loans, respondents stated the amount of money they received from each parent or guardian. Additionally, round 1 respondents were asked if they made regular payments to their parents during the previous year. For respondents living at home, this survey collected information on money paid for room and board.

In early rounds, youths answered questions about the income of their parents or guardians. In round 1, this group was composed of respondents age 14 and older as of 12/31/96; round 2 collected this data from youths who were age 14 or older as of 12/31/97. In rounds 3-6, all respondents were age-eligible for these questions. For each parent or guardian listed, the respondent was asked if that person received any earnings or income during the previous calendar year. Follow-up questions gathered information on the amount the parent or guardian earned. Once respondents became independent, there were asked about the income of all other individuals age 14 or older who resided in the household at the time of the interview.

Information also was gathered on allowances during the past calendar year, including the amount received and periodicity of the allowance. These questions were asked in rounds 1-7.

In Round 20, respondents were asked if they received COVID-19 stimulus payments in 2020 and how much they received.

Parent Questionnaire (round 1). Data on the earnings and income of the youth in 1996 were collected from the responding parent. The survey also established the amount of financial support given to an independent youth by the parent.

The responding parent provided information about his or her own income, the income of his or her spouse, and the income of each household occupant age 14 or older. These data are described in Household Composition and Parent Characteristics.

Household Income Update. In rounds 2-5, a parent of the respondent answered this short paper instrument concerning his or her income and that of his or her spouse/partner. The question names for these variables are HIU-1 through HIU-6. See NLSY97 Household Income Update Round 4 questionnaire as example. See Parent Characteristics for more information.

Comparison to Other NLS Surveys: Information on income is regularly collected from each cohort. Users should note, however, that the income sources included have varied widely over time and among cohorts. For more information, refer to the appropriate cohort's User's Guide.

Survey Instruments: These questions are found in the income and assets section (YINC) of the round 1 Youth Questionnaire, the income section (question names begin with YINC) of the rounds 2 and up Youth Questionnaires, and section PC10 of the round 1 Parent Questionnaire.

Related User's Guide Sections Household Composition
Parent Characteristics
Assets & Debts
Program Participation
Main Area of Interest Income
Supplemental Areas of Interest Children
Household Characteristics
Illegal Activity &Arrest
Parent Current Status
Program Participation
Employment: Wages & Compensation