National Survey of Family Growth

About the National Survey of Family Growth

NSFG Background and Impact

The National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) gathers information on pregnancy and births, marriage and cohabitation, infertility, use of contraception, family life, and general and reproductive health. The survey sample is designed to produce national data, not estimates for individual states. The information below provides a brief history of data collection, a summary of available data files, a description of the impact of NSFG, and details about the co-sponsoring agencies of the survey.

Beginning in 1973, NSFG was designed to be nationally representative of ever-married women 15-44 years of age in the civilian, non-institutionalized population of the United States (household population). Later sample changes to NSFG include:

  • Interviewing women aged 15-44 regardless of marital experience (1982)
  • Interviewing an independent sample of men aged 15-44 (2002)
  • Expanding the age range for women and men to 15-49 (2015)

NSFG is conducted through in-person interviewing, with a portion of the more sensitive questions answered privately by self-administration. The 1995 NSFG was the first to be conducted using computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI). The interviews are voluntary and confidential. The response rate for recent data releases was around 69%. Public-use data files and related documentation, including questionnaires, codebooks, and design and operations reports, can be found on the webpage for each release here.

NSFG data are used by:

  •  Scholars in the behavioral sciences and public health to study marriage, divorce, fertility, family formation, reproductive health, maternal and infant health topics;
  • Agencies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to brief senior officials and to inform program decision-making and policy discussions;
  •  Federal, state and local governments for research programs intended to help plan health and social service programs;
  •  The media to prepare articles on topics related to fertility, reproductive health and family formation.The impact of the NSFG goes well beyond the more than 1,300 journal articles, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reports, and book chapters shown in our bibliography.


Survey Planning and Support

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 programs and agencies within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). NCHS gratefully acknowledges the contributions of these programs and agencies, and all others who assisted in designing and carrying out NSFG.

The most recently conducted NSFG was jointly planned and funded by the following programs and agencies within HHS:

• Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
• Office of Population Affairs
• Office on Women’s Health
• Children’s Bureau of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
• Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation within ACF
• 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 1-6: Periodic to Surveys, 1973 to 2002

The first five NSFG surveys were conducted with women as periodic, independent cycles in 1973, 1976, 1982, 1988, and 1995. These surveys were based on in-person 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. Cycles 1-4 were conducted using paper and pencil questionnaires, and Cycle 5 (1995) was the first NSFG to be conducted using CAPI. 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.


The Shift from Periodic to Continuous Interviewing

Starting in 2006, NSFG shifted from a periodic survey to continuous interviewing/fieldwork. Under the continuous fieldwork model, fieldwork took place continually over four 12-week quarters (48 weeks) each year in a smaller number of areas within the U.S. than was the case for periodic interviewing. As with periodic interviewing, all interviews were conducted in-person by female interviewers. Under the continuous fieldwork model, NSFG was still designed to be nationally representative of men and women aged 15-44 (2006-2010 and 2011-2015) and 15-49 (2015-2019) living in households in the United States. Over 5,000 interviews were completed in each fieldwork year.


NSFG Data for 2006-2010

NSFG data collection under the continuous fieldwork design began in June 2006. Over the 4-year period of June 2006 to June 2010, interviews were completed with 22,682 respondents aged 15-44 years (10,403 men and 12,279 women). Data and documentation for the 2006-2010 NSFG are accessible here.


NSFG Data for 2011-2019

After a roughly 15-month break in fieldwork to award a new contract, interviewing resumed with independent samples of men and women aged 15-44 in September 2011 under the continuous fieldwork model and continued through September 2019.  Beginning in September 2015, the NSFG age range expanded from 15-44 to 15-49.

During this 8-year continuous interviewing period, four sets of 2-year public-use data files were released.  (All interviews were conducted from September to September in each 2-year span indicated.)

  • 2011-2013 NSFG: 10,416 respondents aged 15-44 (5,601 women and 4,815 men)
  • 2013-2015 NSFG: 10,205 respondents aged 15-44 (5,699 women and 4,506 men)
  • 2015-2017 NSFG: 10,094 respondents aged 15-49 (5,554 women and 4,540 men)
  • 2017-2019 NSFG: 11,347 respondents aged 15-49 (6,141 women and 5,206 men)


NSFG Data for 2022-2029

NSFG data collection resumed with a multi-mode, continuous survey design in January 2022. As in prior surveys, NSFG is based on independent samples of men and women aged 15-49. Under this survey design, pending the availability of funding, data collection will go through December 2029.