This study is provided by ICPSR. ICPSR provides leadership and training in data access, curation, and methods of analysis for a diverse and expanding social science research community.

General Social Surveys, 1972-2008 [Cumulative File] (ICPSR 25962) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):


The General Social Surveys (GSS) were designed as part of a data diffusion project in 1972. The GSS replicated questionnaire items and wording in order to facilitate time-trend studies. The latest survey, GSS 2008, includes a cumulative file that merges all 27 General Social Surveys into a single file containing data from 1972 to 2008. The items appearing in the surveys are one of three types: Permanent questions that occur on each survey, rotating questions that appear on two out of every three surveys (1973, 1974, and 1976, or 1973, 1975, and 1976), and a few occasional questions such as split ballot experiments that occur in a single survey. The 2008 surveys included nine topical modules: knowledge about and attitude towards science, self-employment, Jewish identity, social inequality, terrorism preparedness, global economics, CDC high risk behaviors, sexual orientation, and clergy sex. The International Social Survey Program (ISSP) module included in the 2008 survey was religion. Specific topics included social-welfare and economic regulation, civil liberties, spending priorities, and political efficacy. The data also contain several variables describing the demographic characteristics of the respondents.

Access Notes

  • This data collection has been deaccessioned; it is no longer distributed by ICPSR.

Study Description


Davis, James A., Tom W. Smith, and Peter V. Marsden. General Social Surveys, 1972-2008 [Cumulative File]. ICPSR25962-v2. Storrs, CT: Roper Center for Public Opinion Resarch, University of Connecticut/Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributors], 2010-02-08. doi:10.3886/ICPSR25962.v2

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)


This study was funded by:

  • National Science Foundation (SBR-96-17727)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   abortion, citizen participation, civil rights, community participation, compensation, computer literacy, computer use, crime, economic conditions, economic issues, economic trends, environmental attitudes, ethnicity, families, family life, feminism, freedom, gender roles, government programs, health status, human rights, information literacy, information systems, Jews, law enforcement, life cycle, mental health, military strength, morale, morality, national identity, occupational status, occupations, patients, physicians, political participation, politics, poverty, prejudice, race relations, racial attitudes, reactions to crime, religion, sexual behavior, sexual preference, social attitudes, social control, social indicators, social inequality, social issues, social justice, social mobility, social networks, social services, social values, socioeconomic status, terrorism, wages and salaries, work, work attitudes

Smallest Geographic Unit:   census region

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1972--2008

Unit of Observation:   individual

Universe:   All noninstitutionalized, English and Spanish speaking persons 18 years of age or older, living in the United States.

Data Types:   survey data

Data Collection Notes:

2011-08-08 This data collection has been deaccessioned and is no longer available.

The GSS is in transition from a replication cross-sectional design to a design that uses rotating panels. In 2008 there were two components: a new 2008 cross-section with 2,023 cases and the first reinterviews with 1,536 respondents from the 2006 GSS, to be available in the future.

Additional information regarding the General Social Surveys can be found at the General Social Survey (GSS) Web site and the Roper Center Web site.


Sample:   Please see Appendix A of the ICPSR Codebook.

Weight:   Due to the number of weights and various uses for them, users should refer to Appendix A of the ICPSR Codebook.

Mode of Data Collection:   computer-assisted personal interview (CAPI), face-to-face interview, telephone interview

Response Rates:   Approximately 70 percent.


Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2010-02-08 In the update of this collection, a compressed Stata system file replaces the uncompressed version of the Stata system file. In addition, the value labels for several variables have been added to the SPSS, SAS, and Stata setup and system files, and the SDA for this collection has been updated.

Related Publications

Found a problem? Use our Report Problem form to let us know.