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National Longitudinal Survey of Mature Women, 1967-2003 (ICPSR 4681) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):


The National Longitudinal Survey of Mature Women is one of six surveys, designed by the United States Department of Labor, comprising the National Longitudinal Survey (NLS) Series. The original purpose of the survey was to study employment patterns of women in their 30s and 40s who may have been re-entering the workforce and balancing the roles of homemaker, mother, and labor force participant. The survey was first administered to 5,083 respondents by interviewers from the United States Census Bureau in 1967. The survey has been repeated a further 20 times, approximately every other year, between the years of 1968 and 2003. Unlike the two NLS male cohorts which were abandoned by the early 1990s, the NLS of Mature Women is an ongoing study. The survey queried respondents on 17 main subjects: work and nonwork experiences, work-related discrimination, training investments, schooling information, retirement status and plans, volunteer work and leisure-time activities, physical well-being, health care and health insurance, alcohol and cigarette use, attitudes, aspirations, and psychological well-being, geographic and environmental data, demographics and family background, marital and fertility histories, childcare arrangements, care of ill and disabled persons, household chores, and transfers. Respondents were asked to give detailed information about their occupation, class of worker, rate of pay, hours worked per week, job satisfaction, and benefits. Respondents who reported themselves as unemployed were asked questions regarding their job search including methods employed to look for work, number of weeks spent looking for work, reasons for not looking for work, and number of weeks spent out of the labor force. Respondents were also asked about work-related discrimination, specifically whether they had experienced discrimination based on age, race, religion, or sex at any time. The survey also collected information on the training experiences of the respondents such as whether the respondent had been enrolled in a vocational or commercial training program during high school, what type of training, how much time was spent in training, and whether the skills acquired had been used on a current job. Respondents were also asked a series of questions about their schooling including whether the respondent attended high school, whether the respondent obtained a diploma or GED, whether the respondent attended college, what field of study, what type of degree, and the amount of time dedicated to college education. Respondents were asked about their retirement status and plans such as at what age they expected to stop working, eligibility for Social Security benefits, and the availability of an employer-sponsored pension plan. Respondents also gave information regarding the amount of time spent doing unpaid volunteer work and answered a single question about how they spent their time when they were doing housework or working for pay. Respondents were asked about their income and assets including sources of income, whether they or their spouses owned their own homes, other real estate, or automobiles, the total worth of those assets, savings accounts, United States savings bonds, other bonds, and stocks. Respondents were asked about their physical well-being, specifically questions pertained to perceived changes in the respondents' health over time, any health-related problems, whether these problems were the result of work-related accidents, and whether they were exposed to a dangerous working environment. The survey also addressed alcohol and cigarette consumption during the past 12 months. Several geographic variables were included in the data, specifically place of residence including Census division, South or non-South differentiation, and residence in a metropolitan statistical area. Other geographic variables include data on the respondents' previous places of residence as well as characteristics about the size of the labor force and unemployment rates for their current residence. There are several demographic variables including the respondents' race, nationality, date of birth, birthplace, and parents' educational and life status. Respondents were asked about their marital status, children, dependents, and differentiating from the male cohort surveys, fertility history. There was also focus on current marital status, dates, duration of, and reasons for the end of previous marriages, total number of children, number of adopted children, number of children living at home, ages of children, dates of birth, gender of children, timing of the respondent's marriage with respect to work, school, and the birth of her first child. Respondents were asked about child care arrangements including costs, number of hours during which child care was required, type of child care arrangements, attitudes regarding daycare centers, and the effect of child care availability on her job search behavior. Respondents were asked a series of questions relating to the care of ill or disabled persons. Details were collected about whether the person cared for belonged to the household, her relationship to that person, and total amount of time (hours) spent caring for the person. Respondents were asked about their responsibility for specific household chores including grocery shopping, childcare, cooking, cleaning, and yard work, whether or not tasks were completed with help, and total amount of time spent on these chores. Finally, respondents were asked about transfers received from parents and given to children. Transfers mentioned included gifts, loans, financial support, inheritances, personal care, and household chores or errands.

Access Notes

  • This data collection has been deaccessioned; it is no longer distributed by ICPSR. The data are currently available at National Longitudinal Survey of Mature and Young Women.

  • This study is provided by ICPSR. ICPSR provides leadership and training in data access, curation, and methods of analysis for a diverse and expanding social science research community.

Study Description


Ohio State University. Center for Human Resource Research (CHRR). National Longitudinal Survey of Mature Women, 1967-2003. ICPSR04681-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2007-07-06. doi:10.3886/ICPSR04681.v1

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Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   child care, compensation, earned degrees, education, employment, employment discrimination, financial assets, health, health care, health insurance, health problems, higher education, housework, industry, job descriptions, job tenure, job training, leisure, occupations, older workers, pensions, psychological wellbeing, retirement planning, unemployment, volunteers, working hours, working mothers, working women

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1967--2003

Date of Collection:  

  • 1967--2003

Unit of Observation:   individual

Universe:   Mature women aged 30 to 44 as of March 31, 1967 representing the civilian, noninstitutionalized population and residing in the United States.

Data Types:   survey data

Data Collection Notes:

The data belonging to the National Longitudinal Survey of Mature Women was previously archived as part of the NATIONAL LONGITUDINAL SURVEYS OF LABOR MARKET EXPERIENCES, 1966-1992 (ICPSR 7610). In efforts to make the National Longitudinal Survey (NLS) Series data more usable, the six cohorts comprising the NLS have been reorganized so that data and documentation for each study can now be found under the following ICPSR study titles: NATIONAL LONGITUDINAL SURVEY OF YOUTH, 1979 (ICPSR 4683), NATIONAL LONGITUDINAL SURVEY OF YOUTH, 1997 (ICPSR 3959), NATIONAL LONGITUDINAL SURVEY OF OLDER MEN, 1966-1990 (ICPSR 4675), NATIONAL LONGITUDINAL SURVEY OF YOUNG MEN, 1967-1981 (ICPSR 4678), NATIONAL LONGITUDINAL SURVEY OF YOUNG WOMEN, 1967 (ICPSR 4680).

The original NATIONAL LONGITUDINAL SURVEYS OF LABOR MARKET EXPERIENCES (ICPSR 7610) data and documentation files remain available in their original form.

Please consult the codebook for important errata for the NLS Mature Women cohort.

Additional information pertaining to the NLS Mature Women cohort can be found at the Bureau of Labor Statistics:


Sample:   A total of 5,393 mature women were selected from the universe of potential respondents during household screenings and deemed eligible respondents.

Mode of Data Collection:   mail questionnaire, telephone interview, paper and pencil interview (PAPI), computer-assisted personal interview (CAPI)

Response Rates:   Of the 5,393 mature women identified, 5,083 (approximately 94 percent) participated in the 1967 survey.


Original ICPSR Release: