DOWNLOAD Disability
Status Reports

Home  /   Data Sources  /   Rehabilitation Dataset Directory: Search  /   Dataset Profile
Center for Large Data Research & Data Sharing in Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation Dataset Directory: Dataset Profile

Dataset: National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97)

Basic Information
Dataset full name: National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997
Dataset acronym NLSY97
Summary The National Longitudinal Surveys (NLS) are a set of surveys sponsored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and are designed to gather information over time regarding the labor market experiences of different cohorts. The NLSY97 (and its predecessor the NLTSY79) was designed to be nationally representative, and includes 8,984 transition aged youth (ages 12-16 as of Dec. 31, 1996) in the United States focusing on transition from school to work and adulthood. The NLSY97 contains extensive information on youths’ education such as high school transcripts, as well as data on their family, community backgrounds and eventual labor market participation. Data includes measures of knowledge and skills in multiple areas including reading and mathematics. It permits the examination of the influence of schooling and other environmental factors on labor market participation and career establishment as well as government program participation and family formation. As of 2014 the cohort are ages 29-31 and data collection is ongoing. There is also data available for the NLSY97’s predecessor: the NLSY79. It is similar to an ongoing study which follows a cohort of young adults who were ages 14-22 in 1979 (ages 49-57 in 2014). Note that the disability and health condition data is more limited early on in the 1979 study (for more information see: ).
Key Terms Transition, Youth, Longitudinal, Employment
Study Design Longitudinal
Data Type(s) Survey & Administrative
Sponsoring Agency/Entity Department of Labor (DOL): Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Health conditions/Disability measures
Health condition(s) Asthma, Cardiovascular/Heart condition, Anemia, Diabetes, Cancer, Epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, Depression scale
Disability Measures Learning disability/attention disorder, Emotional/mental problem or behavior problem, Eating disorders, Mental retardation, Blindness in one eye, Blindness in both eyes, Other vision difficulty, Hearing difficulty, Deaf, Speech impairment, Missing: finger, hand, arm, toe, foot, or leg, Permanent stiffness or any deformity of the back, foot, or leg, Permanent stiffness or any deformity of the fingers, hand, or arm, Activity limitations
Measures/outcomes of interest
Topics Transitional youth, Education, Schooling, Aptitude, Labor force, Employment, Onset
Sample Population Transition aged youth (ages 14-16 in 1997)
Sample Size/Notes 8,984 transition aged youth (ages 12-16 as of Dec. 31, 1996)
Unit of Observation Individual
Geographic Coverage United States
Geographic specificity National
Data Collection
Data Collection Mode Survey, Interview, Assessments, Administrative records
Years Collected 1997-current
Data Collection Frequency Annual
Strengths and limitations
Strengths Excellent documentation available. Extensive series of survey items regarding physical, genetic, mental, and emotional conditions in specific survey waves. Includes age disability/condition first noticed and extent condition limits activities. One in five youth identified with a disability (note: see limitations below)
Limitations Very broad definition of severity used for some disability questions. Some mental/emotional condition questions limited due to focus on those resulting in participation restrictions (i.e. school, work activities). Sample attrition over time. Sample may be too small for feasible analysis/estimates of certain specific disability types.
Data details
Primary Website
Data Access
Data Access Requirements Public Use Dataset
Summary Tables/reports NA
Dataset components (where applicable) Waves 1-15 currently available (1997-2011)
Selected papers
Technical User Guide:
Using and understanding the data:
Topical Guide to the Data:
Health: Conditions and Practices:
Other Papers Event History Data: Lessons from the NLSY97 (2007):

Shandra C. Hogan, D. (2008) School-to-work program participation and the post-high school employment of young adults with disabilities. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, Volume 29, Number 2. pp 117-130.

Ask Our Researchers

Have a question about rehabilitation datasets? Contact our researchers for technical assistance, log in or register.

The Rehabilitation Research Cross-dataset Variable Catalog has been developed through the Center for Large Data Research & Data Sharing in Rehabilitation (CLDR). The Center for Large Data Research and Data Sharing in Rehabilitation involves a consortium of investigators from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Cornell University's Yang Tan Institute (YTI), and the University of Michigan. The CLDR is funded by NIH - National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, through the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. (P2CHD065702).

Other CLDR supported resources and collaborative opportunities:

Acknowledgements: This tool was developed through the efforts of William Erickson and Arun Karpur, and web designers Jason Criss and Jeff Trondsen at Cornell University. Many thanks to graduate students Kyoung Jo Oh and Yeong Joon Yoon who developed much of the content used in this tool.

For questions or comments please contact

© 2018 Cornell University. All rights reserved.