Meet the First Respondent Ever Interviewed for the NLS

The first NLS interview was conducted on April 11, 1966 with a respondent in the Older Men cohort. This respondent:

  • … was a white man born in March 1912; he was just one month past his 54th birthday when first interviewed for the NLS.
  • … lived with his wife and two youngest children, ages 12 and 18, in a rural, nonfarm location in 1966.
  • … was a high school graduate working as a “professional, technical, kindred worker, not elsewhere classified” in the construction industry in 1966.
  • … stated in 1966 that he liked his job “very much,” although earnings and working conditions were the two factors he liked least about the job.
  • … stated in 1966 that he expected never to retire.
  • … was widowed when he was approximately age 60.
  • … switched in 1975, at age 63, from his construction industry job to a part-time parking attendant job at an apparel store.
  • … stated in 1981, at age 69, that he liked his parking job “fairly well” and that he was uncertain about the age at which he would retire.
  • … owned his own home and had total net assets of $14,700 when interviewed in 1981; in 2014 dollars, this amounts to $38,278.
  • … reported in 1981 — during his last NLS interview — that he was “very happy” with his housing, area of residence, and standard of living, and “somewhat happy” with his health and feelings overall.
  • … in response to questions posed in 1981 about ways he would spend an extra $100 per month, answered “yes” to saving and “no” to everything else, including taking a vacation, fixing up his house, paying off debt, quitting his job, buying gifts, and investing.
  • … died at age 71, shortly before his 1983 NLS interview would have taken place.
  • … could not possibly have imagined that he was the first of almost 54,000 respondents to participate in the NLS!

… to the 53,669 respondents who agreed to be (repeatedly) interviewed during the first 50 years of the NLS. The NLS researchers and staff who are also acknowledged on this anniversary website are humbled by the patience, generosity, and loyalty of NLS respondents. These men, women, and children are the NLS!