National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging

General Social Surveys, 1972-2002 [Cumulative File] (ICPSR 3728) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):


The General Social Surveys (GSS) are designed as part of a program of social indicator research, replicating questionnaire items and wording in order to facilitate time-trend studies. This collection is a cumulative dataset that merges all data collected as part of the General Social Surveys from 1972 to the present. Among the new items added for the 2002 surveys are topical modules on prejudice, doctors and patients, quality of working life, employee compensation, altruism, adult transitions, and mental health. Also included are crossnational modules, conducted under the aegis of the International Social Survey Program (ISSP), on the role of government, social support and equality, family and gender, national identity, religion, the environment, and work.

Access Notes

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

  • 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.

Study Description


Davis, James A., Tom W. Smith, and Peter V. Marsden. GENERAL SOCIAL SURVEYS, 1972-2002: [CUMULATIVE FILE]. 2nd ICPSR version. Chicago, IL: National Opinion Research Center [producer], 2003. Storrs, CT: Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, University of Connecticut/Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributors], 2003. doi:10.3886/ICPSR03728.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, civil rights, community participation, compensation, environmental attitudes, ethnicity, families, family life, feminism, freedom, gender roles, government programs, health status, human rights, information literacy, information systems, life cycle, mental health, military strength, morale, morality, national identity, occupational status, occupations, patients, physicians, political participation, politics, poverty, prejudice, race relations, racial attitudes, 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:   size of place within Census region

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1972--2002

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

Data Types:   survey data

Data Collection Notes:

(1) In 1994, two major innovations were introduced into the GSS, and they have been carried forward to subsequent years. First, the traditional core set of questions was substantially reduced to allow for the creation of mini-modules (small- to medium-sized supplements). The mini-modules permit greater flexibility to incorporate innovations and to include important items proposed by the social science community. Second, a new biennial, split-sample design was instituted, consisting of two parallel subsamples of approximately 1,500 cases each, with identical cores and different topical ISSP modules. In effect, the two samples can be viewed as representing the traditional GSS for two consecutive years, although they are fielded together. (2) The machine-readable codebook that ICPSR distributes contains corrected column locations for the following variables: CONSCHLS, CARRIGHT, CARDO, NUMMEN, RELATSEX, VISITORS, RELHH1, and those from HOWFREE (Q. 823) through SECOPIN (Q. 871). (3) The codebook and appendices are provided by ICPSR as Portable Document Format (PDF) files. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided on the ICPSR Web site. (4) Hardcopy codebooks, as well as a CD-ROM containing PDF versions of the codebook and data collection instruments, are also available for purchase from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Connecticut.


Sample:   National Opinion Research Center national probability sample. Block quota sampling was used in 1972-1974 and for half of the 1975 and 1976 surveys. Full probability sampling was employed in 1977, 1978, 1980, 1982-1991, 1993-1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, and in half of the 1975 and 1976 surveys.

Data Source:

personal interviews


Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2003-10-01 The data producer has added several new variables, further edited data, and modified some variables. Variables added include CANINF1-16, FREEMNS1-3, and FREEEXP1-3 for 2000 and NATSCI, CHLDPRB, CHLDHLP, and ADHDKNW for 2002. Many of these are open-ended variables with codes that were unavailable for the first release. Some updated variables, which were omitted from earlier cumulative files, have been included. These variables are IMMECON for 1994, PAYOWNER and GIVOWNER for 2000, HHTYPE, HHTYPE1, FAMGEN, and RPLACE for both 2000 and 2002, and HISPANIC and REALINC for 2002. REALINC, family income in constant dollars for 2002, is included while REALRINC, respondent's earned income in constant dollars for 2002, is not. Initially REALRINC for 2002 was also created by applying the method that has been traditionally used in the GSS. However, the method used to produce a value for the upper unbounded category of the variable proved to be unreliable in 2002. As a result, REALRINC for 2002 is omitted from the GSS cumulative data until a satisfactory solution is found. Finally, miscoded values were corrected for some variables. The documentation and SPSS data definition statements were updated to reflect these changes.