Call for Comment - BLS Proposes Major Improvements in Entrepreneurship Questions to National Youth Longitudinal Survey

We have just received very exciting news about a proposed change to one of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' most important surveys - the National Youth Longitudinal Survey. The 1979 version of this study follows "a nationally representative sample of 12,686 young men and women who were 14-22 years old when they were first surveyed in 1979. These individuals were interviewed annually through 1994 and are currently interviewed on a biennial basis."

Currently, NYLS79 is getting ready to go back to the field on round 24 of surveys with this same group and the Bureau of Labor Statistics has published a call for comment on their work to the federal register. The Bureau has highlighted the following changes in the current wave of work as compared to previous questionnaire documents:

The round 24 questionnaire reflects a number of content changes recommended by experts in various social science fields. The round 24 main NLSY79 questionnaire includes a more extensive set of questions about volunteer activity and monetary donations to charitable organizations. The round 24 survey also will include retrospective questions on business ownership. This new section augments information previously collected in the survey by asking how many businesses respondents have owned since age 18 and collecting detailed information on the characteristics of up to ten businesses. Questions on estate planning and wills will be asked in round 24 to augment information previously obtained on health, asset accumulation, and retirement plans. Round 24 includes a series of questions on mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures. The questions cover the period since January 2007 and ask respondents whether they had been more than two months behind on mortgage payments, received a foreclosure notice, or lost property due to foreclosure. Round 24 includes a short series of questions on whether respondents were offered stock options by their employer, whether the option was offered before the respondent accepted the job, whether the option affected the respondent’s decision to take the job, whether the option is tied to work performance, and whether the respondent has exercised or plans to exercise the option. Questions on assets will not be asked in this round. It was determined after Round 19 that an extended series of questions on assets is not necessary every survey round. The questions on political involvement included in Round 23 are not included for Round 24.

I am so excited by a couple of sentences here that I just wanted to reiterate the passage:

The round 24 survey also will include retrospective questions on business ownership. This new section augments information previously collected in the survey by asking how many businesses respondents have owned since age 18 and collecting detailed information on the characteristics of up to ten businesses.

If this isn't great news and a wonderful opportunity for the entrepreneurship research community, I don't know what would be. But, today, I also want to put out the challenge to researchers and those with experience in doing surveys with similar populations looking at retrospective recall of business ownership activities and other important topics to send your ideas (or just your congratulations) to BLS and OMB before June 15, 2009.

We will be formulating comments and a letter, which I will post to the blog before sending. If anyone is sending comments and wants to share them, we would welcome the opportunity to second ideas which we agreed with in our letter.

Draft Questionnaire for round 24
nyls.html (3.20 mb)

Questionnaire from Round 23
ftp://www.nlsinfo.org/pub/usersvc/NLSY79/NLSY79%202008%20Prelim%20Quex.html

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