National Survey of Family Growth

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 69%.  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.


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

The NSFG is jointly planned and funded by the following programs and agencies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):

• CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)
• Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HHS/NICHD)
• Office of Population Affairs (HHS/OPA)
• Office on Women’s Health (HHS/OWH)
• Children’s Bureau of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF/CB)
•  Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation within ACF (ACF/OPRE)
• CDC/NCHHSTP’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention
• CDC/NCHHSTP’s Division of STD Prevention
• CDC/NCHHSTP’s Division of Adolescent and School Health
• CDC/NCCDPHP’s Division of Reproductive Health
• CDC/NCCDPHP’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control
• CDC/NCCDPHP’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity
• CDC’s National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities


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): Addition of sample of men 15-44 to the NSFG

Cycle 6 of the NSFG included the addition of an independent sample of men aged 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 aged 15-44  7,643 women and 4,928 men.


The shift from periodic to continuous interviewing

Starting in 2006 the NSFG shifted from a periodic survey to continuous interviewing. Under continuous interviewing, fieldwork takes place continually (48 weeks, or four 12-week quarters, each year), in a smaller number of areas within the U.S. than is the case for periodic interviewing. As with periodic interviewing, all interviews are conducted in person by female interviewers. The NSFG is designed to be nationally representative of men and women aged 15-44 (2006 through 2015) and 15-49 (beginning in 2015) living in households in the United States.  In each interviewing year over 5,000 interviews have been completed.


2006-2010 NSFG

Interviews were done in 4 quarters (48 weeks) every year for 4 years—from June 2006 through June 2010, including 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 based on  conducted between June 2006 and June 2008 were released in May 2010.  A second set of data files was released in October 2011, containing data from all 22,682 survey participants interviewed between June 2006 and June 2010 – 10,403 men and 12,279 women.


2011-2013 NSFG

The 2011-2013 public use data files released in December 2014 are based on data collected from 10,416 survey participants — 5,601 women and 4,815 men interviewed between September 2011 and September 2013.


2013-2015 NSFG

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


2015-2019: Interviewing Continues with 15 – 49 age range

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.

December 2018 update: The 2015-2017 NSFG public-use files were released December 19, 2018 and include data from 5,554 women and 4,540 men interviewed between September 2015 and September 2017.  Data files based on interviews from September 2017 through September 2019 will be released in late 2020.


The Impact of the NSFG

The NSFG is used by:

      • Scholars in the behavioral sciences and public health to study marriage, divorce, fertility, family life, reproductive health, maternal and infant health topics;
      • Agencies of the US Department of Health and Human Services, to brief senior officials, to inform program decision-making and policy discussions;
      • Federal, state and local governments in research programs and to plan health and social service programs;
      • The media 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 1,200 journal articles, NCHS reports, and book chapters shown in our publication list and bibliography.


Page last reviewed: January 4, 2019