Years on the NLS team: 2011-present
Role: As PI of the NLSY97 my job is to provide scientific direction for the NLSY97, in collaboration with colleagues at the BLS, NORC, and CHRR.
Since their inception, NLSY instruments have included a wide variety of tests designed to measure key latent constructs, including attitudes, expectations, cognitive and non-cognitive ability, risk assessment, mental health, and so forth. For most of these tests, data releases provide individual-level item responses (not just summary measures), which are crucial for the estimation of models that have latent constructs as independent variables. I have been part of the team that has worked to insure that item responses are available to researchers and to develop new statistical methods that exploit this extraordinary data resource.
I am proud to be a small part an awe-inspiring scientific project that has been in continuous operation for 50 years. I have an enormous admiration for the innovative research and management team that initiated this project and developed it over the years. I am honored to work with wonderful and dedicated colleagues at NORC, CHRR and the BLS.
There are good scientific reasons why the NLS project has been so important for the social sciences. In labor economics specifically, we know that economic outcomes often depend on individuals’ past constraints and decisions and expectations about the future, so longitudinal data are important. Furthermore, important parts of our lives play out in families; decisions are interconnected with others in our households, and this interconnectedness extends over lifetimes. NLS data have for decades been collected in ways that acknowledge these complexities; NLS data provide researchers unprecedented opportunities to study fundamental questions about economic behavior.