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National Longitudinal Survey of Young Men, 1966-1981 (ICPSR 4678) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):


The National Longitudinal Survey of Young Men 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 young men in their teens and early 20s who were completing or had completed school and were making decisions about obtaining additional education, entering the work force, or joining the military. The survey was first administered to 5,020 respondents by interviewers from the United States Census Bureau in 1966. The survey was repeated a further 12 times between the years of 1967 and 1981. The NLS of Young Men queried respondents on the following 12 main subjects: (1) labor market experiences, (2) work-related discrimination, (3) training investments, (4) schooling information, (5) military experiences, (6) income and assets, (7) physical well-being, (8) attitudes, aspirations, and psychological well-being, (9) geographic and environmental data, (10) demographics and family background, (11) marital history, children, and dependents, and (12) household chores. An important portion of the survey was dedicated to the respondents' labor market experiences. Respondents were asked to provide information regarding their occupation, their working class, hours worked per week, rate of pay, and attitude toward their current job. Respondents were also asked about a variety of job-related activities including shift worked, union membership, length of commute, tenure, benefits, and eligibility for retirement benefits. Respondents who were unemployed or temporarily out of the labor force were asked about their plans for seeking employment, number of weeks spent looking for work, number of weeks spent out of the labor force, and reasons for not seeking employment. Respondents were also asked about work-related discrimination. Specifically, there were questions aimed at determining whether the respondents had ever experienced discrimination based on age, race, religion, or gender. Questions were asked about respondents' training experiences such as enrollment in business or technical training programs, or some other vocational or apprenticeship training program, upon completion of their formal schooling. Respondents were asked how much time they had devoted to these training programs, whether they completed the training programs, and whether or not they used the skills acquired in the training programs on their current or last job. Respondents were asked to give information regarding their schooling and the transition from school to work such as their enrollment status, whether a diploma or equivalent was obtained, college attendance, field of study, tuition costs, and general experiences from high school and college. Respondents were also asked about any possible experience in the military including dates of service, training received in the armed forces, whether any skills acquired were used in a recent job, and whether or not military service helped or hurt the respondent's career. Respondents were asked about their income and assets including income sources, 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. Specific questions pertained to perceived changes in the respondent's health over time, any health related problems, whether these problems were the result of a work-related accident, and whether they were exposed to a dangerous working environment. The survey included a series of questions targeting respondents' attitudes, aspirations, and overall psychological well-being. Several questions addressed geographic location, specifically place of residence including Census division, South or non-South differentiation, and residence in a metropolitan statistical area. Other geographic variables include the respondents' previous places of residence as well as characteristics about the size of the labor force and unemployment rates for their current residence. Demographic variables include the respondents' race, nationality, date of birth, birthplace, and parents' educational and life status. There are also variables relating to marital status, children, and dependents. They include current marital status, dates, duration, and reason for the end of previous marriages, total number of children, number of children living at home, ages of children, dates of birth, and gender of children. Because some of the respondents comprising the Young Men cohort were as young as age 14, there were also questions relating to household chores such as how many hours per week the respondent spent performing chores around the house and the frequency with which the respondent performed tasks such as cleaning, cooking, or caring for young children.

Access Notes

Study Description


Ohio State University. Center for Human Resource Research. NATIONAL LONGITUDINAL SURVEY OF YOUNG MEN, 1966-1981. ICPSR04678-v1. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, and U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics [producers], 1981. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2007-05-31. doi:10.3886/ICPSR04678.v1

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Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   compensation, earned degrees, education, educational programs, employment, employment discrimination, financial assets, health, health care, health insurance, health problems, higher education, industry, job descriptions, job tenure, job training, leisure, military service, occupations, older workers, pensions, psychological wellbeing, retirement planning, unemployment, union membership, vocational education, volunteers, work attitudes, working hours

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1966--1981

Date of Collection:  

  • 1966--1981

Unit of Observation:   individual

Universe:   Young men aged 14 to 24 as of April 1, 1966 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 YOUNG MEN, 1966-1981 was previously archived as part of the NATIONAL LONGITUDINAL SURVEYS OF LABOR MARKET EXPERIENCES, 1966-1992 (ICPSR 7610). In an effort 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 MATURE WOMEN, 1967 (ICPSR 4681), NATIONAL LONGITUDINAL SURVEY OF YOUNG WOMEN, 1968 (ICPSR 4680).

The original NATIONAL LONGITUDINAL SURVEYS OF LABOR MARKET EXPERIENCES, 1966-1992 (ICPSR 7610) data and documentation files remain available in their original form.

Please consult the codebook for important errata for the NLS Young Men cohort.

Additional information pertaining to the NLS Young Men cohort can be found at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Sample:   A total of 5,713 young men were selected from the universe of potential respondents during household screenings, and were deemed eligible respondents.

Mode of Data Collection:   face-to-face interview, telephone interview, paper and pencil interview (PAPI)

Response Rates:   Of the 5,713 young men identified, 5,225 (approximately 91 percent) participated in the 1966 survey.


Original ICPSR Release:  

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