Performance Improvement 2008. How Best Use National Survey Data to Study Family Formation?


The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) hosted a meeting of both marriage and family experts and National Longitudinal Survey of Youth1997 cohort (NLSY97) data experts. The experts discussed major marriage and family research questions, the NLSY97 data that could support such questions, NLSY97 data limits, and ways to overcome the limitations. The meeting focused on: pathways to cohabitation and marriage; relationship between family formation/marital status and employment; marriage outcomes; and child well-being in different family structures.

NLSY97 includes detailed questions on: (1) cohabiting and marital partners that allow tracking relationship stability and transitions, demographic variables on the other biological parent of the respondent´s child; (2) variables related to expectations of marriage; and (3) marital histories of the youths´ parents to capture intergenerational influences. The NLSY97 includes: detailed employment data; histories and job search efforts; related variables such as education, training, aptitude scores and welfare receipt; and event history structures that allow researchers to assess timing of transitions. The NLSY97 includes extensive measures related to marriage outcomes including relationship quality between the youths´ parents (or parent figure) as reported by the youth and by responding parent including supportiveness, degree of conflict and conflict resolution. Finally, youth well-being is measured across multiple domains including educational attainment, employment, physical health, risk-taking behaviors, and emotional well-being.

Recommendations included: creating a targeted users´ guide designed for marriage and family researchers; creating an on-line table generator of family variables and covariates; constructing variables of relevance to marriage and family researchers; developing definitional statements for each variable identifying the universe of eligible respondents; creating an on-line message board to enable researchers to post findings or discuss methodology; and promoting additional analyses through providing small dissertation grants or similar funding opportunities.

Report Title: Bridging the Data Gap for Marriage and Family Research: Potential Opportunities Within the NLSY97,
Agency Sponsor:
ACF-OPRE, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
Federal Contact: Nancye Campbell, 202-401-5760
Performer: National Opinion Research Center (NORC)
PIC ID: 8472

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"PerformanceImprovement2008.pdf" (pdf, 1.29Mb)

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