Iowa Youth and Families Project, 1989-1992 (ICPSR 26721)

Version Date: Nov 3, 2011 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
Rand Conger, Iowa State University; Paul Lasley, Iowa State University; Frederick O. Lorenz, Iowa State University; Ronald Simons, Iowa State University; Les B. Whitbeck, Iowa State University; Glen H. Elder Jr., University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; Rosalie Norem, Iowa State University

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This data collection contains the first four waves of the Iowa Youth and Families Project (IYFP), conducted in 1989, 1990, 1991, and 1992. The Iowa Youth and Families Project was developed from an initial sample of 451 7th graders from two-parent families in rural Iowa. The study was merged with the Iowa Single Parent Project (ISPP) to form the Iowa Family Transitions Project in 1994, when the target youth were seniors in high school. Survey data were collected from the target child (7th grader), a sibling within four years of age of the target child, and both parents. Field interviewers visited families at their homes on several occasions to administer questionnaires and videotape interaction tasks including family discussion tasks, family problem-solving tasks, sibling interaction tasks, and marital interaction tasks.

The Household Data files contain information about the family's financial situation, involvement in farming, and demographic information about household members.

The Parent and the Child Survey Data files contain responses to survey questions about the quality and stability of family relationships, emotional, physical, and behavioral problems of individual family members, parent-child conflict, family problem-solving skills, social and financial support from outside the home, traumatic life experiences, alcohol, drug, and tobacco use, and opinions on topics such as abortion, parenting, and gender roles. In addition, the Child Survey Data files include responses collected from the target child and his or her sibling in the study about experiences with puberty, dating, sexual activity, and risk-taking behavior.

The Problem-Solving Data files contain survey data collected from respondents about the family interactions tasks.

The Observational Data files contain the interviewers' observations collected during these tasks.

Demographic variables include sex, age, employment status, occupation, income, home ownership, religious preference, frequency of religious attendance, as well as the ages and sex of all household members and their relationship to the head of household. Demographic information collected on the parents also includes their birth order within their family, the ages and political philosophy of their parents, the sex, age, education level, and occupation of their siblings, and the country of origin of their ancestors.

Conger, Rand, Lasley, Paul, Lorenz, Frederick O., Simons, Ronald, Whitbeck, Les B., Elder Jr., Glen H., and Norem, Rosalie. Iowa Youth and Families Project, 1989-1992. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2011-11-03.

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United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Mental Health (MH43270), United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA05347), United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD047573), United States Department of Health and Human Services. Health Resources and Services Administration. Bureau of Maternal and Child Health (HD051746), MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Adolescent Development Among Youth in High-Risk Settings (MH051361)
abortion   academic achievement   adjustment   adolescents   behavior problems   birth control   career planning   child rearing   delinquent behavior   domestic responsibilities   drug use   educational objectives   employment   expectations   family life   family relationships   family violence   farm families   farmers   friendships   gender roles   goals   health   health behavior   life events   living conditions   marital instability   marital satisfaction   marriage   mental health   military service   parent child relationship   parental attitudes   parental influence   parenting skills   peer influence   personal adjustment   personal finances   personality   puberty   sexual behavior   social capital   social life   stress   substance abuse   suicide   tobacco use   values   work   working mothers   youths


To protect respondent privacy, the data are restricted from general dissemination. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete an Agreement for the Use of Confidential Data, specify the reasons for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research. Apply for access to these data through the ICPSR restricted data contract portal, which can be accessed via the study home page.

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

1989 -- 1992
1989-01-10 -- 1989-06-24, 1989-12-26 -- 1990-06-14, 1990-12-05 -- 1991-06-13, 1991-12-08 -- 1992-06-02
  1. The FAMID variable can be used to link files within waves and across years.

  2. Due to the small size of the communities in the study, the principal investigators have removed school, town, and county identifiers from the data to protect the privacy of the subjects. To protect respondent confidentiality, variables containing potentially identifying information, including exact date of birth, names of children's schools, exact occupation codes, detailed geographic information, and history of military service were blanked or recoded in the public use version of data files.

  3. Variable and value labels were added for all variables. Several variables contain unknown codes. In Part 5, the variable ACODYR01 contains an invalid code.

  4. In Part 3 (Wave A), no information was found in the documentation for variables AS204004 through AS204008 and AS205005 through AS207047. In Part 19 (Wave D), variable DS306006 was not available in the original data file provided by the principal investigator.

  5. The data were produced at Iowa State University at Ames, Iowa.


The original purpose of the Iowa Youth and Families Project was to study variations in rural family resilience to economic stress stemming from the farm crisis of the 1980s. The study was born out of the desire to understand the mechanisms within families and the characteristics of individual family members that either increase or protect against risks for health and behavioral problems associated with economic hardship. To increase understanding of the processes involved, the study began with a sample of 451 two-parent, rural Iowa families with a 7th grade adolescent and near-age sibling in the home. All participants were assessed on multiple occasions over several years using a measurement strategy that was both extensive (i.e., covers multiple domains of personal and social characteristics) and intensive (i.e., employs a multi-informant approach that includes self-reports, other family member reports, teacher reports, ratings by trained observers, and school records). The prospective panel study included annual assessments to assess the direct impact of economic stress on the quality and stability of family relationships and on the emotional, physical, and behavioral problems of individual family members. Risk factors such as prior emotional instability, marital distress, parent-child conflict, and conduct problems of adolescents were expected to exacerbate the negative influence of economic stress and to increase the likelihood of long-term impairments for families and individuals. Characteristics such as self-esteem, personal resilience, use of specific coping strategies, family problem-solving skills, and support and social supports from outside the home were expected to minimize the negative impacts of economic loss. An important contribution of this work has been the development and evaluation of the Family Stress Model (FSM; Conger and Conger 2002; Conger and Elder 1994). The FSM proposes that economic hardship leads to economic pressure in the family. Markers of hardship include low income, high debts relative to assets, and negative financial events (e.g., increasing economic demands, recent income loss, and work instability). These hardship conditions affect family functioning and individual adjustment primarily through the economic pressures they generate. The FSM proposes that economic pressures include: (1) unmet material needs involving necessities such as adequate food and clothing, (2) the inability to pay bills or make ends meet, and (3) having to cut back on necessary expenses (e.g., health insurance and medical care). Findings have shown that when economic pressure is high, parents are at increased risk for emotional distress (e.g., depression, anxiety, anger, and alienation) and for behavioral problems (e.g., substance use and antisocial behavior; Conger, 1995; Conger et al., 2002). According to the model, these emotional or behavioral problems predict: (1) increased marital conflict, (2) diminished nurturing and involved parenting, and (3) greater harsh and inconsistent parenting. That is, parents distracted by their own personal problems and marital distress are expected to demonstrate less affection toward their children, to be less involved in their children's daily activities, and to be more irritable, harsh and inconsistent in their disciplinary practices. The last step in the model proposes that reduced parental nurturance and increased parental harshness will threaten the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being of children.

The initial sample consisted of 451 two-parent, rural Iowa families of European heritage with a 7th grade adolescent and near-age sibling in the home, living in one of eight adjacent counties in Iowa in an area heavily dependent on agriculture. All schools in this particular region of Iowa were contacted to gain their cooperation in reaching target families. The initial recruitment rate of eligible families was 78 percent. Once the families were selected for the study, they were contacted by a telephone interviewer to verify eligibility, explain the project thoroughly, and determine the family's willingness to participate. For more information, please refer to the documentation or see Conger, R. D., and Elder, G. H., Jr. (1994). Families in troubled times: Adapting to change in rural America. Hillsdale, NJ: Aldine.

Two-parent, rural Iowa families of European heritage with a 7th grade adolescent (in 1989) and near-age sibling in the home.

individual, household

A wide variety of measures have been used in this project. Some of the more notable measures include: Booth's marital instability index, Cohen and Hoberman's Interpersonal Support Evaluation List (ISEL), Costa and McCrae's NEO, Derogatis' SCL-90-R, Veit and Ware's positive affect scale, Reiss' scale of sexual permissiveness, Elliott, Huizinga, and Ageton's delinquency scales, and Norton's Quality Marriage Index.



2018-02-15 The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented. The previous citation was:
  • Conger, Rand, Paul Lasley, Frederick O. Lorenz, Ronald Simons, Les B. Whitbeck, Glen H. Elder Jr., and Rosalie Norem. Iowa Youth and Families Project, 1989-1992. ICPSR26721-v2. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2011-11-03.

2011-11-03 Missing files had to be added to parts 3 and 8.

2011-11-01 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Created variable labels and/or value labels.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.