Our understanding and expectations of lifetime employment—what a career can or should be—is evolving rapidly. At the same time, increasing global competition and economic fluctuation and crisis complicate the dynamic between costs and wages and individual access to essential goods and services.
NORC’s economic research has sought to capture diverse labor experiences and the trajectories of careers over time, yielding a wealth of data critical to understanding local economies as well as national and global economic stability. In addition to labor, this research encompasses a broad range of studies in education, training, consumption, personal success, small business, family finances, and more. As early as World War II, NORC helped assess the impact of government campaigns, such as rationing and recycling, on American households. NORC is also home to the triennial Federal Reserve Board’s Consumer Finance Survey, one of the best and only sources of information on the financial circumstances of U.S. households. In fact, it was researchers at NORC who helped establish the now widely accepted concept of the “economics of family.”
The General Social Survey (GSS), NORC’s flagship survey and one of its longest running projects, is entering its fourth decade. One of the most frequently cited sources of social science information, the GSS provides an ongoing, cross-disciplinary view of American society and culture, including educational opportunities and vocation. The National Longitudinal Studies, launched by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the 1960s, began as an exploration into why increasing numbers of men were leaving the work force before retirement. It has since evolved—with the addition of women and their biological offspring—into an exceptionally rich mine of labor, family, and financial insights across generations. Drawing from this work, NORC helped establish one of the most prominent collections of data on education, labor, and their economic outcomes: the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 and 1997.
Using telephone, in-person and computer-assisted interviews, NORC has achieved a high response rate and expertise with these longitudinal survey instruments. NORC also draws from landmark studies in its other focus areas—particularly education—to create new knowledge about the impact of economic conditions, policies and programs.
Specific areas of expertise include: