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About the National Survey of Family Growth

2011-2015: Interviewing Continues

February 2015: NSFG continues to interview men and women 15-44 living in households in the United States. For each interviewing year (every 12 months beginning mid-September), it is expected that about 5,000 interviews will be completed. All interviews are conducted in person by female interviewers who are hired and managed by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. From time to time, updates on the progress of the survey will be posted in this space.


2011-2013 NSFG

The NSFG interviewed a national sample of 10,416 men and women 15-44 years of age living in households in the United States. Interviews were conducted from September 2011 through September 2013. Data files were released in December 2014, containing more than 10,000 interviews—4,815 interviews with men and 5,601 interviews with women. The response rate was 72.8% overall—73.4 percent for females and 72.1 percent for males.


2006-2010 NSFG

October 2011: The NSFG interviewed a national sample of 22,682 men and women 15-44 years of age living in households in the United States. Interviews were done 48 weeks of every year for 4 years—from June, 2006 through June, 2010. The first public use data files were released in May 2010, and included 13,495 interviews. A second set of data files was released in October 2011, containing all 22,682 interviews—over 10,000 interviews with men and more than 12,000 interviews with women.


Cycle 6 (2002)

A Survey of Men and Women, 2002: Cycle 6 of the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) was conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), with the participation and funding support of nine other programs of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Cycle 6 was based on an area probability sample. The sample represents the household population of the United States, 15-44 years of age. The survey sample is designed to produce national data, not estimates for individual States. The contractor for the survey, the Institute for Social Research of the University of Michigan, hired and trained over 200 female interviewers for the 2002 NSFG. In-person interviews were completed with 12,571 respondents 15-44 years of age--7,643 females and 4,928 males. The interviews were voluntary and confidential. The response rate was 79 percent overall--80 percent for females and 78 percent for males. The questionnaire for males averaged about 60 minutes in length, while the female interview averaged about 80 minutes.


Cycles 1-5: Surveys of Women

Surveys of Women, 1973-1995: The NSFG was conducted by NCHS in 1973, 1976, 1982, 1988, and 1995. These surveys were based on personal interviews conducted in the homes of a national sample of women 15-44 years of age in the civilian, noninstitutionalized population of the United States. The main purpose of the 1973-1995 surveys was to provide reliable national data on marriage, divorce, contraception, infertility, and the health of women and infants in the United States.

Further details on how the surveys were planned and conducted, reports of the findings from the surveys, documentation and codebooks, and contact information to obtain the public-use data files, are available on this Web site.


The Impact of the NSFG

The National Survey of Family Growth, or NSFG, was initially designed to be the national fertility survey of the United States. So its focus was on factors that help to explain trends and group differences in birth rates, such as contraception, infertility, sexual activity, and marriage.

The NSFG is used:

  • by scholars in the behavioral sciences (e.g., sociology, demography, and economics) to study marriage, divorce, fertility, and family life;
  • by scholars in public health to study reproductive, maternal and infant health topics;
  • by agencies of the US Department of Health and Human Services, to brief senior officials and to inform program decision-making, in research programs and in health and social service programs.
  • by state and local governments to plan health and social service programs;
  • by private-sector research organizations which distribute the information to the public and to policy makers; and
  • by the press, to prepare articles on a number of topics related to health and family life.

The impact of the NSFG goes well beyond the more than 600 journal articles, NCHS reports, and book chapters shown in our publication lists. The NSFG’s impact includes behind-the-scenes policy discussions, briefings, and program planning at the federal, state, and local levels. The survey results are also used by people providing health and social services, through government agencies and in private groups.


Survey Planning and Support

National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) is conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) with the support and assistance of a number of other organizations and individuals. The NSFG is jointly planned and funded by the following programs and agencies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
  • Office of Population Affairs
  • Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, CDC
  • Division of Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention, CDC
  • Division of Reproductive Health, CDC
  • Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, CDC
  • Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, CDC
  • Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
  • Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
  • Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, ACF

Previous sponsors include:

  • Office of Women’s Health, CDC

NCHS gratefully acknowledges the contributions of these programs and agencies, and all others who assisted in designing and carrying out the NSFG.