Robert Lerman


Department of Economics, American University

NLS user since 1977

  • “A National Profile of Unwed Fathers” and “Employment Patterns of Unwed Fathers and Public Policy,” in Young Unwed Fathers: Changing Roles and Emerging Policies, Robert Lerman and Theodora Ooms (eds.), Temple University Press, July 1993.
  • “Unemployment Among Low Income and Black Youth: A Review of Causes, Programs, and Policies,” Youth and Society, March 1986.
  • “Who Are the Young Absent Fathers?,” Youth and Society, September 1986.
  • (with Avner Ahituv). “How Do Marital Status, Work Effort, and Wage Rates Interact?” Demography. August 2007, 623-647.
  • (with Avner Ahituv). “Job Turnover, Wage Rates, and Marital Stability: How Are They Related,” Review of Economics of the Household, 2011.
  • (with W. Brad Wilcox). “For Richer or Poorer: How Family Structures Economic Success in America.” American Enterprise Institute, October 2014.
What I learned from NLS data

I learned a great deal about unwed and non-custodial fathers. In fact, it was my going through the NLSY79 that allowed me to recognize that it was unusual in asking unmarried men about even having children. From this recognition, I began profiling young unwed fathers, something that led to a body of research on fathers (including my co-edited book with Theodora Oooms, Young Unwed Fathers) and ultimately public policy recognition of the role of fathers. Had someone suggest skipping the question for men, the research and policy initiatives on fathers would have been delayed.

Why I chose NLS data

My interest in youth employment and career issues prompted me to begin using the NLS. Later, colleagues and I have used the NLSY79 and NLSY97 to examine the relationships between family structure, earnings, and income.