Antecedents and predecessors of NLSY79: paving the course

Walker, James R.
February 2005
Monthly Labor Review;Feb2005, Vol. 128 Issue 2, p8
Academic Journal
This article explores antecedents and predecessors of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979. These antecedents include scientific frontiers, intervention and experiments, analysis gap, computer revolution, and longitudinal versus household data. Two critical elements came together in the 1960s supporting the development of large, household surveys. First, the social science field had developed the conceptual foundation supporting the use of longitudinal data. Meanwhile, the intellectual primacy of measuring education and training fueled and was fueled by the era of big social science and policy interventionism of the mid-1960s. The period also witnessed the negative income tax experiments in some cities. On the other hand, analyses of longitudinal data started appearing in the major journals about 10 years after data collection. According to Frank Stafford, more than half of the papers published in the six major journals in the first half of the 1960s on labor market topics were theoretical, with no empirical analyses. Also, computing power during the decade was a fraction of what it is today. The increased computational revolution was necessary to support new statistical procedures.


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