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General Social Surveys, 1972-2006 [Cumulative File] (ICPSR 4697) 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. This data collection includes a cumulative file that merges all 25 General Social Surveys into a single file containing data from 1972 to 2006. The 2006 survey was composed of permanent questions that appeared on each of the previous surveys, rotating questions that appeared on two out of every three surveys (e.g., 1973, 1974, 1976), and a small number of occasional questions that occurred in a single survey. The GSS included 11 topical modules: quality of working life, attitudes towards firearms, shared capitalism, level of disability, use of foreign languages, mental health attitudes and experiences, number of people known, participation in congregations, knowledge about and attitude towards science, religious trends, and sexual behavior. The International Social Survey Program (ISSP) modules included in the 2006 survey were: the role of government, and work orientation. 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, 1972-2006 [Cumulative File]. ICPSR04697-v4. Storrs, CT: Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, University of Connecticut/Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributors], 2009-12-04. doi:10.3886/ICPSR04697.v4

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, environmental attitudes, ethnicity, families, family life, feminism, freedom, gender roles, government programs, health status, human rights, information literacy, information systems, 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, social attitudes, social control, social indicators, social inequality, social issues, social justice, social mobility, social networks, social services, social values, socioeconomic status, wages and salaries, work, work attitudes

Smallest Geographic Unit:   census region

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1972--2006

Date of Collection:  

  • 1972--2006

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.

In 2006 there were two important changes to the General Social Surveys. First, Spanish interviews were conducted, so the target population is now adults living in households in the United States who speak English or Spanish. Second, a third sample was added to accommodate more supplements. This led to a total sample size in 2006 of 4,510.

This data collection includes a searchable, machine-readable PDF codebook. Hard copy versions of the codebook are no longer available.

Please see the codebook for important errata and processing notes.

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:   National Opinion Research Center national probability sample. For the 2006 survey, a new sample frame based on the 2000 United States Census was implemented. Block quota sampling was used in 1972-1974 and for half of the 1975 and 1976 surveys. Full probability sampling was employed in the in half of the 1975 and 1976, and the 1977, 1978, 1980, 1982-1991, 1993-1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 surveys. As with the 2004 survey, the 2006 survey subsampled nonrespondents. (See Appendix A of the codebook for more information.)

Weight:   (1) WTSS or WTSSNR: GSS users need to use one of the weight variables for the 2004 and 2006 GSS's. The memo for weight variables can be found in the codebook. (2) WTSSALL: The weight variable WTSSALL is the same as WTSS for 2004 and 2006. It takes into consideration the subsampling of initial nonrespondents and the selection of one adult per household. See Appendix A for further discussion of WTSS. For years 1972-2002, WTSSALL takes into consideration the selection of one adult per household by adjusting for the number of adults in the household. See the general discussion of number of adults adjustment in Appendix A. In order to generalize to adults living in households and including more than just 2004 and 2006, this weight should be utilized. (3) Additional information regarding weight variables for this data collection can be found in Appendix A of the codebook.

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

Response Rates:   Approximately 71 percent.

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Created online analysis version with question text.


Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2009-12-04 In the update of this collection, a compressed Stata system file and SAS transport (CPORT) file replace the uncompressed version of the Stata system file and the SAS transport (XPORT) file, respectively. 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 and the bookmarks in the codebook have been updated.
  • 2009-09-22 This update of the dataset includes variables that were not previously released, the coding of three variables, numerous recodes, corrections to the codebook, and the drop of the variable VIGVER06, among others. Please see the updated codebook for more information regarding all of the changes to this version.
  • 2007-09-10 The data files for the General Social Survey, 1972-2006 have been updated to include corrected missing data specifications for responses of "Don't Know". In addition, the codebook has been updated to include the most up-to-date errata.

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