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Survey of Consumer Finances, 1955 (ICPSR 3600)

Principal Investigator(s): Economic Behavior Program. Survey Research Center. University of Michigan


This data collection is one in a series of financial surveys of consumers conducted annually since 1946. In a nationally representative sample, the head of each spending unit (usually the husband, the main earner, or the owner of the home) was interviewed. The basic unit of reference in the study was the spending unit, but some family data are also available. The questions in the 1955 survey covered the respondent's attitudes toward national economic conditions and price activity, as well as the respondent's own financial situation. Other questions examined the spending unit head's occupation, and the nature and amount of the spending unit's income, debts, liquid assets, changes in liquid assets, savings, and actual and expected purchases of cars and other major durables. In addition, the survey explored in detail the subject of housing, e.g., previous and present home ownership, value of respondent's dwelling, satisfaction with home and space, expected duration of tenure there, mortgage information, budgeting, handling of family finances, use of installment plans, and changes in liquid assets. Personal data include number of people in the spending unit, age, sex, and education of the head, and the race and sex of the respondent.

Series: Survey of Consumer Finances Series

Access Notes

  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions. Please log in so we can determine if you are with a member institution and have access to these data files.

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    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.


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Study Description


Economic Behavior Program, Survey Research Center, University of Michigan. SURVEY OF CONSUMER FINANCES, 1955. Conducted by University of Michigan, Survey Research Center. ICPSR ed. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [producer and distributor], 1999.

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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-9617813)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    automobile ownership, business conditions, consumer attitudes, consumer behavior, consumer expectations, consumer expenditures, debt, disposable income, durable goods, economic conditions, families, financial assets, financial balances, home ownership, household budgets, household expenditures, household income, housing, income distribution, mortgages, national economy, occupations, personal debt, personal finances, prices, savings

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 1955

Date of Collection:   

  • 1955-01--1955-03

Universe:    The population of the United States.

Data Type(s):    survey data

Data Collection Notes:

(1) Most of the data in the study pertain to a spending unit. For some variables, information from related spending units was combined to provide data on a family basis. The user should refer to the editing instructions and worksheets included with the codebook to ascertain the procedures followed in these computations. (2) The majority of the variables in the study represent information obtained through direct questioning of the respondent. Some variables, however, are the result of computations done for each interview, e.g., amount saved, total indebtedness, estimated income taxes, and the relation of these amounts to income. (3) In some instances, where important information was missing, assigned values were given. The assigned values were based on other known characteristics of the spending unit and occur only in a small proportion of the cases. Those variables containing assigned information are preceded by a lead variable, indicating for each case whether the value in the following variable is assigned or not. (4) The codebook is provided by ICPSR as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. 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.


Sample:    The respondents interviewed were drawn from a national sample of dwelling units. The dwelling units falling in the sample were chosen by area probability sampling to represent the United States population.

Data Source:

personal interviews

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:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.


Original ICPSR Release:   1984-05-11

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