Postscript on the NLS surveys: Two comments, and how readers can help

Austin asked for the action steps readers might take to support these studies.

Two comments before answering his question.

1. I should state that I don’t have any personal connection to these projects or these researchers. I am in no way directly or indirectly connected with these grants. I’m just another social scientist who occasionally has downloaded free NLS data to conduct analyses that were important for me and (hopefully) for others.

2. I also believe there are two rather serious market failures operating here. The political marketplace does not (sufficiently) value the production or the infrastructure of high-quality social science data collection. That’s just the way it is. And to tell you the truth, the prestige structure of elite academia doesn’t always, either. Individual stars who offer provocative hypotheses receive much greater reward than do many people tending the vineyards providing the data we need to methodically make progress (and to test these provocative hypotheses).

Now, the answer to Austin’s question…. Via email, advocates from the NLS study team have asked their supporters to email Labor Secretary – Hilda Solis ( and Acting BLS Commissioner – John Galvin (…

In  your email(s), ask that BLS restore $4.7  million in funding for fiscal year 2012 and that future funding be sufficient to  maintain a biennial interview schedule for both the NLSY79 and NLSY97. We recommend that you also provide a brief  statement about the NLS program’s value to social scientists and policy makers.

This link provides a short-cut to the email addresses of Secretary Solis and Acting Commissioner Galvin:  email Solis and Galvin Please send identical emails to your U.S. senators ( and representative ( If you prefer not to craft your own message, cut-and-paste this text into the body of your email(s):

As a member of the social science research community, I urge you to restore $4.7  million in funding for the NLS in 2012, and to provide sufficient future  funding to maintain a biennial interval schedule for both the NLSY79 and  NLSY97. These surveys are essential to  our understanding of how labor market experiences evolve over the life-cycle, and  how labor market outcomes differ for Hispanics and non-Hispanics. The proposed BLS budget cuts will be  devastating to the social science research community and to policy makers who rely on our findings. Timing is critical: we need immediate restoration of funding for 2012 to avoid suspension of work and widespread layoffs of NLS staff.


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