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About the National Survey of Family Growth

The National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) gathers information on family life, marriage and divorce, pregnancy, infertility, use of contraception, and general and reproductive health.  The information below provides a brief history of data collection, updates about forthcoming data files, a description of the impact of the NSFG, and details about the co-sponsoring agencies of the survey.

The NSFG was first designed to be nationally representative of women 15-44 years of age in the civilian, noninstitutionalized population of the United States (household population).  The survey sample is designed to produce national data, not estimates for individual states. Later changes to the NSFG include adding an independent sample of men (2002) and expanding the age range to 15-49 (2015).  NSFG is conducted through in-person interview, with a portion of the more sensitive questions answered privately by self-administration.  The interviews are voluntary and confidential.  The response rate for recent data releases is around 73%.  More specific information about the sample design and operation of the survey can be found on the publications page here.  Public use data files and related documentation are available on the webpage for each release here.

Cycles 1-5: Surveys of Women 15-44

The first NSFG surveys were conducted as periodic Cycles 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.


Cycle 6 (2002): A Survey of Women and Men 15-44

Cycle 6 of the NSFG included the addition of an independent sample of men ages 15-44 to the survey.  These men were not connected in any way to the sample of women.  In total,  interviews were completed in-person with 12,571 respondents 15-44 years of age–7,643 females and 4,928 males.


2006-2010 NSFG: The shift from periodic to continuous interviewing

Starting in 2006 the NSFG shifted from a periodic survey to continuous interviewing.  Interviews were done 48 weeks of every year for 4 years—from June 2006 through June 2010. Interviews were done with 22,682 men and women 15-44 years of age living in households in the United States, 10,403 men and 12,279 women. The first public use data files with interviews from June 2006 to June 2008 were released in May 2010.  A second set of data files was released in October 2011, containing all 22,682 interviews conducted from June 2006 through June 2010.


2011-2013 NSFG

The 2011-2013 public use data files released in December 2014 include 10,416 interviews: 5,601 interviews with women and 4,815 interviews with men conducted from September 2011 through September 2013.


2013-2015 NSFG

The 2013-2015 public use data files released in October 2016 include 10,205 interviews: 5,699 interviews with women and 4,506 interviews with men conducted from September 2013 through September 2015.


2015-2019: Interviewing Continues

May 2017 Update: Beginning in September 2015, NSFG expanded its age range for both men and women from 15-44 to 15-49.  The survey content and scope remain largely the same. The survey is designed to be nationally representative of men and women aged 15-49 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 continue to be completed. All interviews are conducted in person by female interviewers who are hired and managed by the current NSFG contractor, the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.


The Impact of the NSFG

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 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 list and bibliography. 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
  • 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
  • Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation

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