Mature Women and Young Women

Interviews of the NLS of Mature women and the NLS of Young women began in the mid-1960s because the U.S. Department of Labor was interested in studying the employment patters of these two groups of women. The NLS of Mature women was a group of women in their 30s and early 40s, many of whom were reentering the workforce and balancing the roles of homemaker, mother and labor force participants. The NLS of Young women was comprised of women in their teen and early 20s who were completing school making initial career and job decisions, and starting families. Respondents in the mature and young women's cohorts continue to be interviewed on a biennial basis, and have been interviewed for over 3 decades.

Interviews started in 1967 for the NLS mature women, a group of 5,083 women ages 20 to 44. Their longitudinal record encompasses, for many, the reentry into the labor market at middle age after child rearing as well as retirement decisions.

In 1968, interviews were initiated with the NLS young women, a cohort of 5,159 women ages 14 to 24. At that time, many were leaving their parent's home, making initial career and job decisions, and beginning families of their own. Now in their mid-forties to fifties, these women too are beginning to contemplate retirement issues. Others face choices regarding labor force attachments as, for many, their children leave the home.

A unique aspect of the original cohorts sample design allows for intrahousehold comparisons using members from different cohorts. At the time samples were drawn, half of the mature women's cohorts and a third of the men as well as three-quarters of both the young men and young women cohorts shared a household with another cohort member. This allows for intergeneration studies such as income and time transfers, economic linkages among family members, and the examination of how family stability affects socioeconomic success. [More about multiple respondent households.]

Surveys of the women's cohorts have collected three basic types of information: (1) Core data on each respondent's work and nonwork experiences, training investments, school, (including a separate survey of respondent's high schools,) family income and assets, physical well-being, and geographic residence; (2) Background information on her marital and fertility history; and (3) supplementary data specific to the age, stage of life or labor market attachment of the cohort (for example, household responsibilities, child care arrangements, retirement plans, volunteer work.)

Transfers of Time and Money

Beginning in 1993, surveys of the mature and young women NLS cohorts have included questions about transfers of time and money to a respondent's parents or to their children. This section was added to collect data on the financial impact aging parents have on their children and to record transfers respondents have received in the form of inheritances. In 1993, 1995, and 1997, respondents answered in-depth questions about parental health, marital status, income housing and transfers of time and money. In 1999, the transfers question module focuses on transfers of time and money between respondents and their children. Included are questions regarding loans, gifts and other financial assistance, as well as time transferred for childcare, personal care, chores and errands.

The 1999 young women survey included a special set of questions for respondents who have a mother in the mature women cohort. These young women describe transfers of time and money to and from their mothers. Although the sample is not representative of all mothers and daughters, researchers can use these data to compare generation's perceptions about the amounts of time and money transferred.

In addition the mature women survey contains a wealth of retirement and pension data. All but two surveys since 1977 have sought information on respondents' retirement plans, expectations and eligibility for various pension plans. Since 1989, the mature women surveys have collected extensive pension plan information including characteristics of each pension provider and each plan. The Institute for Social Research (ISR) at the University of Michigan conducted a special pension-matching project with the Census Bureau where plans were coded and matched to specific pension plans. This matched data is also available to researchers.

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Last Modified Date: March 01, 2002