DPLS News, May 1995

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DPLS News
May 1995

Table of Contents


Wisconsin Longitudinal Study

The newest release of this 35-year study is now archived and available at the DPLS. The recent update has been conducted by Robert M. Hauser, William H. Sewell, Taissa S. Hauser, John A. Logan, Carol Ryff, Avshalom Caspi, and Maurice M. MacDonald. The complete study title is the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study of Social and Psychological Factors in Aspiration and Attainment: 1992/93 update of 1957, 1964, 1975 and 1977.(SB-006-001) There is a preliminary release of 1992-93 telephone and mail surveys of original high school graduates available as well (SB-006-002). Both datasets are available on the DPLS server via FTP or the World Wide Web. Some documentation is only in hardcopy, but much of it is machine-readable, in ASCII or WP format.

The WLS cohort, born in 1939, is the first of the large, longitudinal studies of American adolescents, and therefore provides the first large-scale opportunity to study the life course from late adolescence through the mid-50s in the context of a complete record of ability, aspiration, and achievement. The WLS data are a valuable public resource for studies of aging and the life course, inter-generational transfers and relationships, family functioning, social stratification, physical and mental well-being, and mortality.

Moreover, the WLS now links records of primary respondents to those of three, same-sex high school friends within the study population, as well as 2,000 of their own siblings.

In the 1992-93 surveys, there were approximately 8,500 telephone respondents of 9,800 surviving cohort members, of whom approximately 6,500 also completed the mail survey. These surveys cover detailed occupational histories and job characteristics; incomes, assets, social and economic characteristics of parents, siblings, and children with descriptions of the respondents' relationships with them; and extensive information about mental and physical health and well-being.

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Cite it Right!

The DPLS staff urges data users to cite datasets in the same way as they cite other sources. Citing data is a way to let your readers know what data you used should they have questions or wish to consult the same data that you have. Examples of proper citations can be obtained from the Library. We also have reference works that offer guidelines on the proper citation of electronic information sources. In addition, bibliographic citations are often included in the documentation associated with datasets. We support those editors of journals which require proper bibliographic citation for published articles which refer to data sources.

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New NLS Youth Cohort

The Center for Human Resources has received funding to create a new Youth Cohort. The first survey will go into the field in 1996. The sample size will be similar to the current NLSY, but will start at age ten or eleven. The current funding for the new cohort covers three years of data collection.

The current Youth Cohort (1979-1993 has just been received) will be on hiatus in 1995; field work will continue in 1996. A new Mature Women's survey, conducted in 1992 will be available later this spring, and a Young Women's survey conducted in 1993 will be available at the end of 1995. Also in 1995 a combined Mature Women/Young Women survey will be in the field.

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Good/Bad News from NCES

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the Department of Education is offering a mixed bag of goodies this spring.

The National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972 (NLS-72) has been put to rest with the release of the 1986 follow-up. NLS was the first of a series of longitudinal studies sponsored by the NCES that include the High School and Beyond, 1980 (HSB) and the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS).

A new study, the Beginning Postsecondary Student Longitudinal Survey (BPS) was started in 1990, with a first follow-up in 1992. It complements and improves on the other high school cohorts because older students as well as recent high school graduates have been included. This recognizes the increasing participation by older students in post-secondary education. The BPS survey will enhance and expand the base of information available regarding persistence, progress, and attainment.

Now for the bad news. With the release of the fourth follow-up data for High School and Beyond (1992) the NCES has begun to apply an increasingly broad definition of "individually identifiable informatio" to its datasets, which, according to the Privacy Act of 1974, cannot be released to the public. Individually identifiable information is currently defined as:"Any item, collection, or grouping of information pertaining to an individual and maintained by the NCES including, but not limited to the individual's education, financial transactions, medical history and criminal or employment history."

The fourth follow-up of the HSB will be released only to persons with restricted data licenses (users who have completed a complicated application procedure). All others will have to make do with the correlation matrix generator, which is a very poor substitute. If you are concerned about this issue, or intend to use any of these data in the foreseeable future, we suggest that you contact the appropriate NCES Contact Person (list available from DPLS).

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Youth Research Threatened

The Family Privacy Protection Act of 1995, passed in the House of Representatives on April 4 as part of the "Contract with America", proposes some serious limitations on research involving minors, in its ostensible effort to strengthen the family. The bill, HR1271, would require written parental consent if minors are asked any questions on a list of seven `sensitive' areas as part of any program or activity funded in whole or in part by the federal government. This would affect survey studies, educational programs, evaluations, prevention programs, etc.

According to a recent listserver posting by Patrick O'Malley in sos-data, national studies such as Monitoring the Future may be adversely affected to the point of being eliminated. O'Malley notes that over 50% of parents do not respond initially when their written permission is requested, but when parents are contacted successfully usually only 1-2% actually refuse. Among the negative consequences is the skewing of samples due to the decreased likeliness of parents of minority children, poorer children and `high-risk' children to respond, and the increased burden on schools because they are not permitted to release information on parents to researchers.

The bill has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs (William Roth, DE, Chair; John Glenn, OH, ranking minority member) and will be taken up after the April recess.

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Survey Center doing the GSS

The Letters and Science Survey Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison is currently conducting the Study of American Families: Supplement to the General Social Survey (GSS). The survey marks the first time that siblings of GSS respondents have been interviewed. This NSF-funded project involves interviews focusing on how family members resemble one another in their attitudes and opinions, current and past jobs, and educational careers. The study will continue through May with an expected total of 1,500 respondents--one selected brother or sister from each GSS respondent who completed an interview in the spring of 1994. The new 10th edition of the Annotated Bibliography of Papers using the GSS by Tom Smith, Bradley Arnold, and Jennifer Wesley is now available at the DPLS in electronic format. It includes over 3,400 references.

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Selected Recent Acquisitions

  • National Health Interview Survey, 1992 [CD-ROM version] (QG-008-052)
  • National Longitudinal Surveys of Labor Market Experience, Youth Cohort, 1979-1993 and NLSY Work History, 1979-1993 [CD-ROM version] (CA-005-045, CA-005-047)
  • National Longitudinal Study of Labor Market Experience, Youth Cohort: Child-Mother Data, 1979-1992 [CD-ROM version] (CA-005-046)
  • Central and Eastern Eurobarometer #1: Public Opinion in Central and Eastern Europe, 1990 (LA-532-004)
  • Common Core of Data (CCD), School Years 1987-1988 through 1992-1993 [CD-ROM version] (QE-022-001)
  • National Education Longitudinal Study, 1988: Second Follow-Up (1992) [student, teacher, parent, school, dropout data] (QD-020-007 through QD-020-011)

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Automated SIC Coding

In the October 1994 edition of DPLS News we wrote about an effort to make the standard industrial classification (SIC) comparable on an international level. We can now report that representatives of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico are currently engaged in a major effort to redesign the SIC coding structure into a common industrial classification system, the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS). This will greatly facilitate many survey operations.

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Internet corner

Health Home Pages (NCHS and CDC)

The National Center for Health Statistics is one of the latest government agencies to board the World Wide Web. The NCHS Home Page contains ".pdf" (Adobe Acrobat) files of recent publications that may be viewed, searched, and downloaded. Instructions are included to download the Acrobat viewing software. Lists of journal articles by NCHS staff, full text catalogs of current publications and electronic media, upcoming conferences, and reviews of publications may be accessed. The NCHS page can be accessed through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Home Page at URL: http://www.cde.gov. Choose "Scientific Data, Surveillance and Health Statistics" to access the NCHS Home Page.

Or, dive into the Hazardous Substance Release/Health Effects Database, HAZDAT, a hypertext formatted database of superfund sites and known health affects from them. (You need to have a Web client that supports forms.) A cursory search of Dane County, Wisconsin revealed 5 sites. A hypertext data dictionary allows you to sort through the various fields.

Crime On the Internet!

Actually, this is the University of Alaska's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) database. They say the database is easy to use, with simple menu-driven selections of state, city and category of crime statistics. The database is made up of the UCR Index crime statistics extracted from the 1985, 1987, 1991, and 1993 UCRs. In general, cities having populations of 100,000+ inhabitants are included, but some smaller cities have been added by request. You can check it out yourself by telnet-ing to info.alaska.edu. Login is ucrprog.

If its crime that interests you, you may also want to subscribe to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service's new twice-monthly electronic newsletter, "Justice Information." Content includes updates on Federal legislation, news from agencies in the Department of Justice such as the Office of National Drug Control Policy, new products and services from NCJRS, and related Internet resources. To subscribe, send email to listproc@ncjrs.aspensys.com with a message saying "Subscribe JustInfo Your Name".

Social Science Software Databank

Created in order to avoid duplication in programming, this resource is designed to provide social scientists with a library of (special purpose) software. Equipped with a search engine, each entry includes a functional description, technical/data requirements, prices, existence of a user's manual, interface, literature references, and purchase addresses. The name of the databank is Sibyl, developed by iec ProGAMMA in the Netherlands. Point your web client to http://www.gamma.rug.nl/sibyl.html. Submissions are also accepted.

FinanceNet Offers Electronic Riches

This site is a spin-off of Vice-President Gore's National Performance Review. Billed as an "Internet service linking governments and taxpayers to improve the stewardship of public resources," FinanceNet "encourages state and local governments to participate in this important `reinvention initiative'" by contributing fiscal documents to its "electronic libraries" and taking part in various public email discussion lists.Those interested in municipal/county/state fiscal spending should explore further. URLs are web: http://www.financenet.gov, and gopher://gopher.financenet.gov.

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End of May 1995 Newsletter.