Meet the Last "Original Cohort" Respondent Ever Interviewed*

From its inception in the mid 1960s through the late 1970s, the NLS consisted of four cohorts: Young Men, Older Men, Young Women, and Mature Women. The NLSY79, Child/YA, and NLSY97 were subsequently added—and, in time, each of the four “original cohorts” came to an end. The Young Men were last interviewed in 1981, the Older Men were last interviewed in 1983 (although follow-up interviews were conducted in 1990), and the Young Women and Mature Women were last interviewed in 2003.

Click here for more information about each NLS cohort.

Data for all four original cohorts remain available and are widely used, but August 13, 2003 marked the end of an era. On that day, the last “original cohort” respondent—a member of the Mature Women cohort—was interviewed.

This respondent:

  • … lived with her sister at the time of her last interview. Her sister was two years older, and was also a member of the Mature Women cohort.
  • … was a white woman born in July, 1931. She was 35 years old at the time of her first NLS interview in 1967, and 72 when last interviewed in 2003.
  • … was born to parents who emigrated from Italy. She grew up with a brother and two older sisters. Her father died at the age of 57, but both her mother and one older sister were living in her household at the time of the first interview.
  • … was interviewed continuously from 1967 to 1981, as was her sister. Both sisters declined to be interviewed for the next five interviews, but participated again in 1992 and did so continuously until 2003.
  • … along with her sister, lived with and cared for her mother until her mother died at age 91. Neither this respondent nor her sister ever married, had children, or moved from the home they lived in at the time of the first interview.
  • … followed the path taken by her sister by completing high school and then starting a job. She changed employers three times and then left the labor force in the mid-1970s, reporting in 1981 that she was unable to work due to illness. Her sister, who was still working in 2003, reported having had fewer health problems.
  • … reported in three separate interviews that she would continue to work even if by some chance she had enough money to live comfortably without working. However, she disagreed with the statement that work is the most meaningful part of life.
  • … might not hold the distinction of being “the last original cohort respondent ever interviewed” forever. An enterprising group of researchers is exploring the possibility of re-interviewing some of the (younger) original cohort respondents. Stay tuned for more!

… 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!