Household Mailstream Study, 1977 (ICPSR 8412)

Published: Jan 18, 2006 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
Maureen, et al. Kallick

Version V1

The primary purpose of this survey was to develop a description of the United States household mailstream for the United States Postal Service (USPS) and to provide annualized, nationwide estimates of the volume of mail received and sent by households in the United States. To this end, the survey gathered information on the characteristics of every USPS letter and package that was sent or received by each sampled household on every day of a preassigned week in the survey period. Daily accounts of items not handled by the USPS were also gathered, e.g., United Parcel Service, telegrams, long-distance telephone calls, newspapers, magazines, advertisements, free samples, campaign literature, and utility bills. In addition to providing mailstream information, respondents answered questions pertaining to their mail delivery and mailing practices, their knowledge of mail and other means of communications, and their opinions on both the performance of the USPS and on proposed changes in mail service and rates. They also supplied information on any stamp collectors living in their household, the age and sex of the collectors, the kinds of stamps they collected, and their expenditures on United States commemorative stamps and corner stamps from sheets of new USPS issues. The dataset includes data on the location of the household, length of residence in the current dwelling unit, family income, the age of each household member, and the age, sex, race, education, occupation, and employment status of the respondent and the head of household.

Kallick, Maureen. Household Mailstream Study, 1977. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2006-01-18.

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United States Postal Service. Mail Classification Research Division (104230-76-X-1899)
Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
1976-12-06 -- 1977-12-31
1976-12-06 -- 1977-12-31

The Household Mailstream Study was conducted by the Survey Research Center (SRC) at the University of Michigan under the auspices of the Long Range Classification Study Program, a program launched by USPS in response to The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970. Data collection involved three basic steps: an initial interview with the person in the household most familiar with that household's mail, a daily reinterview with that respondent each day of a preassigned week to obtain information about the content and senders of incoming mail and about the internal and external characteristics of outgoing mail, and the mail classification of the sampled household's incoming mail by postal personnel. Part 4 contains four levels of hierarchy: (1) the household, (2) the day of the week, (3) the mailpiece group, and (4) 4-the individual mailpiece. There are three level 1 records. The first, contains sampling information, has 21 variables and a record length of 84. The second, contains household-level variables, has either 213 variables with a record length of 340, 262 variables with a record length of 401, 195 variables with a record length of 328, or 40 variables with a record length of 95, depending on the version of the household questionnaire used in the initial interview. The third, contains aggregated variables, has 120 variables and a record length of 442. If mailstream data are missing for the entire week, level 2 does not contain any records. Otherwise, there are six records, one for each day of the week, excluding Sunday. Each level 2 record contains 42 variables summarizing the mailstream for a given day and has a record length of 96. For every level 2 record, there are zero or more level 3 records, one for each item or each group of identical items (e.g., Christmas cards) delivered or sent on a given day. Level 3 records characterize items by type, contents, indicia, dimensions, and weight. Records describing incoming items have a record length of 321 and contain 150 variables. Records describing outgoing items have a record length of 191 and contain 89 variables. Level 4 records contain the origin and destination ZIP codes of the items described at level 3. The number of level 4 records corresponding to each level 3 record depends on the number of items and the number of destinations (outgoing mail) or origins (incoming mail) covered by the individual level 3 record. There is always at least one level 4 record corresponding to each level 3 record. Level 4 records have 13 variables and a record length of 68. Part 4 contains 252,657 records of all types. The variable counts for part 4 exclude the OSIRIS linkage variables contained in columns 1-32 of each record.

National multistage probability sample of households.

All households in the conterminous United States, exclusive of households on military reservations.

personal interviews, telephone interviews, and forms filled out by postal personnel.

survey data



2018-02-15 The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented. The previous citation was:
  • Kallick, Maureen, et al. Household Mailstream Study, 1977. ICPSR08412-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1989.

2006-01-18 File CB8412.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.


  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions.

  • The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented.
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