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Study of Consumer Purchases in the United States, 1935-1936 (ICPSR 8908)

Principal Investigator(s):


In 1935, the principal investigators interviewed a national sample of all families in the United States to ascertain for the first time in a single national survey the earning and spending habits of inhabitants of large and small cities, villages, and farms. Families completed questionnaires that reported in detail all household income sources and expenditures. Respondents were asked to list the amount of all income received by the family from each person employed as well as from other sources such as gifts, interest and dividends, pensions, and work in the home. Complete information was also provided on family composition, type of living quarters, housing accommodations, fuel and other utility expenses, medical care, recreational activities, tobacco use, purchase of reading materials, educational expenses, miscellaneous occupational expenses, gifts furnished, taxes paid, automobile expenses, personal care costs, and a detailed appraisal of all changes in family assets and liabilities over the course of the previous year. Families also reported the quantity of food items consumed, unit purchase price, and total expense of all food items consumed by the family in the seven days prior to the interview. In addition, families were queried on furnishings and equipment purchased for the home as well as on all items of clothing purchased for each family member in the previous year. Demographic characteristics recorded for each household member include relationship to the household head, age, sex, occupation, weeks spent at home or away from home, wage rate, length of time employed during the year, and total earnings.

Series: Cost of Living Survey Series

Access Notes

  • These data are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions. Because you are not logged in, we cannot verify that you will be able to download these data.


DS0:  Study-Level Files
DS1:  Income Data for All Sampled Urban Families - Download All Files (70.5 MB)
SAS    SPSS    Stata    ASCII    Excel/TSV
ASCII + SAS Setup    SPSS Setup    Stata Setup   
DS2:  Income Data for Urban and Rural Families - Download All Files (76.1 MB)
SAS    SPSS    Stata    ASCII    Excel/TSV
ASCII + SAS Setup    SPSS Setup    Stata Setup   
DS3:  Income and Expenditure Data for Urban Families - Download All Files (164.2 MB) large file
SAS    SPSS    Stata    ASCII    Excel/TSV
ASCII + SAS Setup    SPSS Setup    Stata Setup   
DS4:  Income and Expenditure Data for Rural Families - Download All Files (161.9 MB) large file
SAS    SPSS    Stata    ASCII    Excel/TSV
ASCII + SAS Setup    SPSS Setup    Stata Setup   

Study Description


United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Cost of Living Division, United States Department of Agriculture. Bureau of Home Economics. Economics Division , United States National Resources Committee. Consumption Research Staff. Industrial Section, United States Central Statistical Board, and United States Works Progress Administration. Study of Consumer Purchases in the United States, 1935-1936. ICPSR08908-v3. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2009-06-29. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR08908.v3

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

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  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)


This study was funded by:

  • National Endowment for the Humanities (RT-20853-87)
  • Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (B1989-22)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   consumers, cost of living, debt, demographic characteristics, economic conditions, economic indicators, economic trends, expenditures, expenses, families, farm families, financial assets, food costs, food production, home ownership, household composition, household income, households, housing, income, living conditions, ownership, products, purchasing, rural population, urban population, wage earners, working class

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1935--1936

Date of Collection:  

  • 1935--1936

Universe:   All native-born families living in the United States in 1935-1936.

Data Types:   survey data

Data Collection Notes:

A portion of the families surveyed in this collection provided only basic income and housing information while other families also provided detailed expenditure information. Part 1 includes income and housing data for ALL sampled families in urban areas, regardless of whether they provided expenditure information. Part 2 includes income and housing data for urban and rural families who DID NOT provide any expenditure data. Parts 3 and 4 include both income and expenditure data for urban and rural families, respectively.

Facsimiles of the original income and expenditure interview forms (called "schedules") are provided as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file in the ICPSR codebook for this collection.


Sample:   The data were collected from 51 cities, 140 villages, and 66 farm counties. The principal investigators selected these areas as primary sampling units to represent the demographic, regional, and economic characteristics of the United States. From these areas a randomly selected group of approximately 700,000 families were screened as a first wave. From this first group, approximately 300,000 families were selected to supply basic income and housing information. Some 61,000 families were selected from this second group to furnish more comprehensive expenditure information. For the present collection, random subsamples of approximately 5,000 families who completed income schedules only and 6,000 families who completed both income and expenditure schedules were chosen.

Data Source:

interview schedules of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Home Economics


Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2009-06-29 The SPSS and SAS setup files and codebook (questionnaire included) have been updated. Also, a Stata setup file, SPSS and Stata system files, a SAS transport (CPORT) file, and a tab-delimited ASCII data file have been added.
  • 2006-03-30 File QU8908.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 1999-04-26 Parts 2 through 4 have been added to this collection, and the data collection instruments are now available in a PDF file.

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