Frequently Asked Questions


We hope the NLSY79 will continue for many more years. Thanks to all of you who have participated since 1979, the survey has been successful beyond our dreams. Researchers and policymakers in a variety of fields regard the NLSY79 as the gold standard for surveys. Information from the NLSY79 becomes more valuable and useful each year it is conducted. You have been telling us about your experiences from young adulthood to midlife. As long as funding continues to be available, we intend to keep asking you about your experiences for years to come.

We take our legal and ethical obligations to protect your confidentiality very seriously. Without your trust and cooperation, the NLSY79 would not be such a rich source of information. Researchers and policymakers use the information that you provide to help them understand the work experiences, family characteristics, health, financial status, and other important aspects about the lives of people in your generation. These researchers and policymakers are never provided with your name, address, phone number, Social Security number, or other information that could reveal your personal identity. For more information, please see our page on protecting your privacy.

Do you ever wonder, 'Do they really need to know that?' The answer is, 'Yes, we do!' One reason the NLSY79 is so widely used by researchers and policymakers is the range of topics that we ask - including topics that may be very personal. For example, the current round of the survey includes questions about mortgage foreclosures. We know that topic can be very sensitive and even painful to anybody who has experienced a foreclosure, but we need to ask the questions so that researchers and policymakers can understand how people in your generation have weathered the nation's recent economic troubles.

We are always looking for ways to be as economical as possible while making your participation as convenient for you as we can. When you participate by phone, it saves the costs of sending an interviewer to visit you at home. Telephone interviewing also provides you some additional flexibility to participate from your home, office, or someplace else. Telephone interviewing even makes it possible for you to complete the interview in multiple segments if you choose. If you prefer doing the interview in person, just let us know and we will make every effort to send an interviewer to your home or another location.

No, you cannot complete the survey online, but we continue to explore ways to permit online participation in the future for people who would prefer providing their information in that way.

The online NLS bibliography lists thousands of research studies that have examined the National Longitudinal Surveys information. Researchers in economics, sociology, public health, education, psychology, and other fields have published articles based on information from the NLS in over 350 journals and have presented their findings at dozens of professional conferences.

Click here to open the online NLS bibliography.

The average interview lasts about an hour but yours may be longer depending on your circumstances. We will likely need to spend about an hour and a half on the phone with you to complete the full interview and gather additional information about how to get in touch with you next round. If it is more convenient for you, we can break up the interview into smaller parts in order to gather all of the information in two or more sessions.

While we wish we could pay much more, we obligated to adhere to the budget for our survey. We strive to spend taxpayer money wisely, which is why we are not able to pay you more. We hope that providing a small monetary gift each round shows you how we appreciate your participation.

Because this is a statistical sample, once a person is selected, we cannot substitute someone else's answers for your own. The success of the survey depends on your participation. You alone are the most reliable source of information about your work history, your finances, and your opinions.

Some of the questions we ask are the same every round, but just think of everything you've experienced since we last talked! It is important for us to capture what has and has not changed in your life so we can present an accurate picture of your generation. The only way we can do so is by asking you the same questions year after year. Although many of the questions remain the same, each year we review and revise the questions so they reflect the changes in your own life experiences.

We are happy to be able to offer the Early Bird program to all of our respondents age 18 and over. Letters are sent out at the beginning of each wave with the phone number to call to take advantage of the Early Bird program.



If you completed your interview by phone and chose a non-electronic payment, please note that it takes fifteen (15) business days (Monday-Friday) to process and be mailed. Your payment will be arriving via FedEx (unless otherwise specified). If you have requested your gift to be sent to a P.O. Box, the arrival time will vary depending on region and it will be delivered via USPS.

If you have any concerns about your gift or if it has been over one (1) month since you complete the interview, please call 877-853-5908 and leave a message specifying your concerns or questions, your name, the best time to reach you, and your phone number. We will get back to you as soon as possible to resolve any issues.

Due to privacy concerns, we cannot make a check out to anyone other than yourself. If you have trouble cashing checks, please let your interviewer know. If you received a check and have trouble cashing it, please call our hotline and someone will get back to you to find an alternative method of payment. You will need to provide the check number when requesting a different payment method.

Electronic Payments

You can go to the PayPal website ( or the Zelle website (

Yes. PayPal payments expire after thirty (30) days and OMB payments expire after twenty (20) days. If you do not claim a payment before the expiration date, you can contact us via email at: and we can re-send the payment.


Three (3) business days after you have completed your interview, You will receive an email from: with the subject line: We Appreciate your Participation!. Open the email and click on the Accept Money tab. (If your PayPal account is set to automatically accept funds, this message will only be a notification that money was deposited in your PayPal account and no action is needed on your part to accept the funds.),/p>

PayPal is a service that enables you to accept payments electronically. You sign up for PayPal using an email address. Once you complete your interview, the Field Interviewer will ask you for the email address associated with your PayPal account. The funds will be transferred to your PayPal account which can then be transferred to your bank account or used through PayPal. Delivery time for PayPal is much shorter than for cash or check.

Please go to the PayPal website by clicking here for instructions on setting up your PayPal account. You will be exiting the NLSY79 Respondent Website. BLS does not endorse the use of PayPal over any other method of payment.

An email will be sent to the email address associated with your PayPal account that was given to your interviewer at the end of the survey. Please check your email account to ensure that it has not been redirected to your junk mail. You can also check if your money was sent by logging into your PayPal account. If you have any concerns about your gift, or if it has been over two (2) weeks since you completed the interview, please call 877-853-5908 and leave a message specifying your concerns or questions, your name, the best time to reach you, and your phone number. We will do our best to get back to you to resolve any issues.

Online/Mobile Banking (OMB) and Zelle

Three (3) business days after you have completed your interview, you will receive an email from Chase Payments. The subject line will read “NATL. OPINION RESEARCH CENTER has sent you a payment”. Open the email and click on the Accept Money tab. You will then need to follow the instructions from your bank.

Western Union

It might be the case that your money was sent, but it can take up to four (4) business days from the date it was sent to be available. Ensure that you are going to an authorized Western Union agent by looking up locations near you on the Western Union websiteYou can also check the status of your money by contacting Western Union. Please have your MTCN tracking number ready.

You should never have to pay a fee to pick up money. Ensure that you are going to an authorized Western Union agent by looking up locations near you on the Western Union website