Cost of Living Survey Series

Investigator(s): United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Cost of Living Survey series was created by the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with the goal of estimating the cost of living of a "typical" American family. ICPSR's holdings of such surveys conducted periodically by the Bureau since 1888 consist of: COST OF LIVING OF INDUSTRIAL WORKERS IN THE UNITED STATES AND EUROPE, 1888-1890 (ICPSR 7711), COST OF LIVING IN THE UNITED STATES, 1917-1919 (ICPSR 8299), and STUDY OF CONSUMER PURCHASES IN THE UNITED STATES, 1935-1936 (ICPSR 8908). The original survey materials from the second of such investigation, conducted in 1901, were deemed to have been destroyed several years ago. A total of 12,817 families of wage earners or salaried workers in industrial locales were originally interviewed in 99 cities throughout the United States. A grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities provided ICPSR with funds to convert to computer-readable form the original completed questionnaires housed in the National Archives of the United States. The data include a rich array of information about the income and expenses of the families surveyed, as well as basic demographic characteristics of each of the members of the families or households studied, selected to represent the urban working class of the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics began a similar survey series in 1941 titled, Consumer Expenditure Survey.