Purpose of the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study

The WLS cohort of men and women, born primarily in 1939, precedes by about a decade the bulk of the baby boom generation, which continues to tax social institutions and resources at each stage of life. For this reason, the WLS can provide early indications of trends and problems that will become important as this larger group passes through its 60s. This is in addition to the value of the WLS in obtaining basic information about the life course as such, independent of the cohort's vanguard position with respect to the baby boom. Also, the WLS is the first of the large longitudinal studies of American adolescents, and thus it provides the first large-scale opportunity to study the life course from late adolescence through the early/mid-60s, in the context of a complete record of ability, aspiration, and achievement.