The NLSY97 Cohort is a longitudinal project that follows the lives of a sample of American youth born between 1980-84; 8,984 respondents were ages 12-17 when first interviewed in 1997. This ongoing cohort has been surveyed 15 times to date and is now interviewed biennially. 

The original sample consists of 8,984 individuals initially interviewed in round 1. Almost 83 percent (7,423) of the round 1 sample were interviewed in round 15. In the initial sample there were 4,599 (51%) males and 4,385 (49%) females. The racial/ethnic composition of the original sample was: non-black/non-Hispanic: 4,665 (51.9%), black non-Hispanic: 2,335 (26%), Hispanic or Latino: 1,901 (21.2%), mixed: 83 (0.9%). 

The NLSY97 had two subsamples: (1) a cross-sectional sample of 6,748 respondents designed to be representative of people living in the United States during the initial survey round and born between January 1, 1980, and December 31, 1984; and (2) a supplemental sample of 2,236 respondents designed to oversample Hispanic or Latino and black people living in the United States during the initial survey round and born during the same period as the cross-sectional sample.
These data contain rich measures of family background, including parental education, mother’s age, family composition, race and ethnicity, and geographical indicators for urban or metropolitan residence. Most important, both data sources contain comparable measures of ability embodied in AFQT scores, a composite derived from tests of arithmetic reasoning, word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, and numerical operations.