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Soviet Interview Project, 1979-1985 (ICPSR 8694)

Principal Investigator(s):


This survey was undertaken to study everyday life in the Soviet Union by conducting highly-structured interviews with a probability sample of eligible Soviet emigrants in the United States. An interdisciplinary research team constructed a questionnaire with the expectation that the results would contribute not only to Sovietology, but to general theories in a number of academic disciplines, especially political science, economics, and sociology. Respondents were asked to comment on topics such as: crime, culture and the arts, education, ethnicity (or nationality), family life, fertility, friends, health and diet, housing, income and earnings, language practices, mass media, military experience, political and social opinions, politics, participation in organizations, religion, satisfaction, standard of living, and work. To insure that "normal" life experiences would be described, respondents were asked to define and discuss their last normal period in the USSR. Since applying to emigrate usually brings marked changes in Soviet citizens' lives, respondents reported the month and year in which they applied to emigrate, whether plans to emigrate had significantly changed their lives even before that date, and if so, specified the month and year in which their lives changed. Interviewers then made certain that all descriptions of day-to-day life in the Soviet Union referred to the period before the question of emigration became a significant issue for respondents.

Access Notes

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DS1:  Raw Data - Download All Files (75 MB)
ASCII + SPSS Setup   
DS2:  SPSS-X Export File - Download All Files (11 MB)
DS3:  SAS Data Definition Statements - Download All Files (1.7 MB)

ASCII + SAS Setup   
DS4:  Alphabetical Index of Variables - Download All Files (0.2 MB)
DS5:  Sequential Index of Variables - Download All Files (0.2 MB)

Study Description


Millar, James R., Barbara A. Anderson, Donna Bahry, John Garrard, Paul R. Gregory, Rasma Karklins, Norman Nie, Brian D. Silver, Michael Swafford, Aaron Vinokur, and William Zimmerman. Soviet Interview Project, 1979-1985. ICPSR08694-v2. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1989. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR08694.v2

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This study was funded by:

  • National Council for Soviet and East European Research (701)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   crime, education, emigration, ethnicity, everyday life, family life, immigration, income, life satisfaction, living conditions, political participation, politics, public opinion, quality of life, social attitudes, social life, work, work environment

Geographic Coverage:   Global, United States

Time Period:  

  • 1979--1985

Date of Collection:  

  • 1983--1987

Universe:   The universe is the fairly complete list of 35,386 emigrants who arrived in the United States between January 1, 1979 and December 31, 1985. However, the focus of the study is the "referent Soviet population" (the sector of Soviet society the survey respondents could represent). The referent Soviet population is the "adult European population in large and medium-sized Soviet cities."

Data Types:   survey data

Data Collection Notes:

For reasons of confidentiality, many variables (such as detailed occupation) have been collapsed and others have been omitted from the datafile and codebook. The hardcopy codebook materials include some information written in Russian. Additional documentary materials available upon request include coding manual, questionnaires, and general specifications.


Sample:   Probability sample stratified on four background variables: nationality, region of last employment in the USSR, highest level of education attained, and size of city in which last employed. Individuals included in the sample were between the ages of 21 and 70 inclusive at the time of arrival in the United States.

Data Source:

personal interviews, and self-enumerated forms


Original ICPSR Release:  

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