Antecedents and Predecessors of NLSY79: Paving the Course: A Historical View of the NLSY79 Development Stages Highlights Lessons Learned during an Era Filled with New Concepts and Innovations in Sociology, Economics, and Computer Science

By Walker, James R. | Monthly Labor Review, February 2005 | Go to article overview

Antecedents and Predecessors of NLSY79: Paving the Course: A Historical View of the NLSY79 Development Stages Highlights Lessons Learned during an Era Filled with New Concepts and Innovations in Sociology, Economics, and Computer Science


Walker, James R., Monthly Labor Review


In 1965, at the prompting of the Assistant Secretary of Labor, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, individuals from the Department of Labor (DOE) and Ohio State University designed the National Longitudinal Surveys of Labor Market Experience. At the time, the participants did not realize that they were creating one of the premier, large scale national longitudinal surveys in the United States. Initially funded for 5 years by the Department of Labor, the "Parnes" data, as the Original Cohorts were called, continued for 37 years, with the last scheduled fielding of the women samples in 2003. (1) The success of the Original Cohorts led to the creation of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79).

This article explores antecedents and predecessors of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979. (2) Longitudinal data are now so plentiful that it is difficult to imagine the world in which they did not exist. Yet, in the mid-1960s, the large scale longitudinal household surveys that came to dominate areas of sociology, demography, and labor economics did not exist. Analyses that are now commonplace were either not possible or inference was restricted to small or specialized samples.

Yet to suggest that there were no longitudinal data sources prior to 1965 is wrong; several longitudinal surveys predate the NLS. Two well-known studies reflect the nature of longitudinal data available before the start of the NLS. The Glueck study of juvenile delinquents from the Boston area followed 1,000 adolescents (500 juvenile delinquents and 500 non-delinquents) into adulthood to examine criminal behavior and contact with the justice system. (3) Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck started interviewing at the end of 1938, completing the first wave of interviews in 1948. Two more waves of interviews followed as the youth were interviewed at ages 25 and 32. Interviews continued until 1965.

The other study available before the NLS, and perhaps more visible to economists, is the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)-Thorndike sample, collected from Air Force volunteers during WWII In 1955, R. Thorndike and E. Hagen randomly selected 17,000 of the 75,000 Air Force volunteers who took the Aviation Cadet Qualifying Test in the second half of 1943 (a test similar in function to the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) tests that NLSY79 respondents took to set a norm in recruiting standards for the Department of Defense). In 1969, with funding from the NBER, Paul Taubman and his colleagues reinterviewed about 5,000 of the original 17,000 members of the Thorndike sample, obtaining information on current and retrospective earnings, education, and occupation. These data have been widely used to study the determinants of earnings, ability bias, and the return to schooling (that is, benefits associated with higher levels of schooling). (4)

A number of other specialized longitudinal studies were launched in the decade prior to the NLS. These efforts surveyed teen mothers, drug users, gifted children, and children from privileged and underprivileged backgrounds. (5) These studies shared features like the Gluecks' study and the NBER-Thorndike study in that they were local in character with limited or irregular longitudinal followups. However, several studies are impressive and cover a long arc of their respondents' lives. (6)

Antecedents

Scientific frontiers. Two critical elements came together in the 1960s supporting the development of large, household surveys. First, the social science field had developed the conceptual foundation supporting the use of longitudinal data. Within the fields of psychology and sociology, researchers and scientists fostered the life course perspective, viewing human development as following a sequence of stages. (7) And second, in the economics field, human capital became the organizing conceptual framework. In his 1960 Presidential Address to the American Economics Association, T. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Antecedents and Predecessors of NLSY79: Paving the Course: A Historical View of the NLSY79 Development Stages Highlights Lessons Learned during an Era Filled with New Concepts and Innovations in Sociology, Economics, and Computer Science
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.