Behavior Genetics

, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 538–551 | Cite as

The NLSY Kinship Links: Using the NLSY79 and NLSY-Children Data to Conduct Genetically-Informed and Family-Oriented Research

  • Joseph Lee RodgersEmail author
  • William H. Beasley
  • David E. Bard
  • Kelly M. Meredith
  • Michael D. Hunter
  • Amber B. Johnson
  • Maury Buster
  • Chengchang Li
  • Kim O. May
  • S. Mason Garrison
  • Warren B. Miller
  • Edwin van den Oord
  • David C. Rowe


The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth datasets (NLSY79; NLSY-Children/Young Adults; NLSY97) have extensive family pedigree information contained within them. These data sources are based on probability sampling, a longitudinal design, and a cross-generational and within-family data structure, with hundreds of phenotypes relevant to behavior genetic (BG) researchers, as well as to other developmental and family researchers. These datasets provide a unique and powerful source of information for BG researchers. But much of the information required for biometrical modeling has been hidden, and has required substantial programming effort to uncover—until recently. Our research team has spent over 20 years developing kinship links to genetically inform biometrical modeling. In the most recent release of kinship links from two of the NLSY datasets, the direct kinship indicators included in the 2006 surveys allowed successful and unambiguous linking of over 94 % of the potential pairs. In this paper, we provide details for research teams interested in using the NLSY data portfolio to conduct BG (and other family-oriented) research.


NLSY79 NLSYC NLSY97 Behavior genetics Biometrical modeling Siblings Kinship links Cousins 



Three grants from the National Institutes of Health (NICHD) have supported the work described within this paper: in the 1990s, R01-HD21973; in 2003–2007 RO1-HD043265; in 2012–2014, R01-HD065865 (Joseph Lee Rodgers was PI on each grant). The authors express appreciation to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Opinion Research Center for longstanding expertise in conceptualizing, funding, and collecting the NLSY data. Particular appreciation is expressed to many individuals at the Center for Human Resource Research at Ohio State for expert management of the NLSY data, and more specifically for conceptual, statistical, and data management support of past NLSY kinship linking efforts. Those individuals at CHRR include Randy Olsen, Elizabeth Cooksey, Frank Mott, Paula Baker, Steven McClaskie, and Karima Nagy. The co-authors on this paper are those who have contributed to coding or conceptualizing the NLSY kinship links since the original linking projects in the early 1990s; with the exception of van den Oord, who developed his own code for NLSYC kinship links, each co-author has been financially supported on one or more of the NIH grants listed above.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by the any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph Lee Rodgers
    • 1
    Email author
  • William H. Beasley
    • 2
  • David E. Bard
    • 2
  • Kelly M. Meredith
    • 3
  • Michael D. Hunter
    • 2
  • Amber B. Johnson
    • 4
  • Maury Buster
    • 5
  • Chengchang Li
    • 6
  • Kim O. May
    • 7
  • S. Mason Garrison
    • 1
  • Warren B. Miller
    • 8
  • Edwin van den Oord
    • 9
  • David C. Rowe
    • 10
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Human DevelopmentVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.University of Oklahoma Health Sciences CenterOklahoma CityUSA
  3. 3.Office of Institutional ResearchOklahoma City UniversityOklahoma CityUSA
  4. 4.Portland State UniversityPortlandUSA
  5. 5.Alabama State Personnel DepartmentPrattvilleUSA
  6. 6.HSBCSchaumburgUSA
  7. 7.Department of PsychologyCollege of CharlestonCharlestonUSA
  8. 8.Transnational Family Research InstituteAptosUSA
  9. 9.School of PharmacyVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  10. 10.University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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