History & Archives

The Family Transitions Project (FTP) is a longitudinal study involving more than 550 individuals and their families. The FTP represents an extension of two earlier studies: the Iowa Youth and Families Project (IYFP) and the Iowa Single Parent Project (ISPP).

The Iowa Youth and Families Project, or IYFP, began in response to the farm crisis that affected rural areas in Iowa in the 1980s. In 1989, IYFP enlisted 451 families from 8 rural counties in central Iowa (highlighted in the map) to participate in this project. These families included a Target seventh grade child, his or her two biological parents, and a sibling within four years of the Target child's age. The purpose of the study was to examine the processes involved in the transition from childhood to adolescence, as well as to understand the broader outcomes due to stress created by economic hardship. Data were gathered through telephone interviews and in-home visits, including video taped discussion tasks, from each of the family members participating in the study, and also teachers of the Target children. IYFP lasted from 1989 to 1993.

Read a news article from the Ames Tribune, September 30, 1988 - "ISU research team plans study of rural families"

The Iowa Single Parent Project, or ISPP, began in 1991 with 108 ninth graders from throughout the state. These families were headed by a mother who had experienced divorce within two years prior to the study, and a close-aged sibling to the Target child was also involved. Interview procedures for ISPP were identical to that of IYFP. The study lasted from 1991 to 1993.

In 1994, when the Targets were in the twelfth grade, the families from IYFP and SPP were combined to form the Family Transitions Project. Beginning in 1995, the study focus shifted from the family in which the youths were raised to the emerging families and relationships they were creating, including spouses, romantic partners, and, by 1997, children of the Targets.

In 2001, the Midlife Transitions Project revisited parents of Targets who participated in IYFP and ISPP. The purpose of this project was to learn more about how parents react to changes that occur in their lives, especially as their adult children leave home, their own elderly parents need care, and they plan and look forward to retirement. Data were collected from parents who participated in the Iowa Youth and Families Project (IYFP) or the Iowa Single Parent Project (ISPP).

In 2007, the Family Transitions Project Genetic Study was introduced to study participants. Since then over 1,000 study participants have contributed to this aspect of the study. Genetic samples have been collected from Parents, Siblings, and Targets and their romantic partners and children.

In 2015 ‒ 2016, the Later Adulthood Study completed the first of two waves of data collection with the original Parents in the study. The purpose of this study is to improve understanding of couple relationships and health, as well as other areas of life, as baby boomers transition into retirement.

Check out our Archives for additional history of this project and other factors that have impacted Iowans.

Some of the Past Project Newsletters:

FTP - 2018 | 2017 | 2015 | 2010 | 2008 | 2004 | 2003 | 2001

IYFP - 1991

SPP Moms - 1992 | SPP Dads - 1992