Project Talent, Base Year Data, 1960 (ICPSR 33341)

Version Date: May 23, 2013 View help for published

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American Institutes for Research

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Project Talent is a nationally representative longitudinal study of men and women who were in high school in 1960 and who are currently in their 60s. Project Talent began as a major national effort to assess the aspirations and abilities of America's young men and women. Initiated in 1957, with support from the United States Office of Education and several other government agencies, Project Talent collected extensive information on characteristics and cognitive abilities of approximately 377,000 individuals in 1960 when they were in high school and in subsequent follow-up studies through age 30. Project Talent's large sample size, extensive background questionnaire, and cognitive measures, make it a premier study for social science research, combining aspects of multiple disciplines in a largely seamless research framework. Project Talent is uniquely suited to help inform lifecourse outcomes with a nationally representative sample and the power to unpack disparities in health and other characteristics and abilities.

American Institutes for Research. Project Talent, Base Year Data, 1960. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2013-05-23.

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Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

  1. Please visit the Project Talent project site for additional details.

The purpose of the study was to find out why some students learn and others do not; why some students go on to college and others do not. This study tried to find out about students interests, career plans and whether the courses they took matched the goals they had set for themselves. It was an attempt to find out how much human potential was lost and what educators and parents can do to stop that loss.

In 1960, roughly 5 percent of American high school students participated in the Project Talent study. Approximately 440,000 students were selected to represent all 9th through 12th grade students throughout the country.

Comprehensive sampling of United States high school students, using a 5 percent survey (a survey of 5 percent of the total population of high school students in 1960). Sophisticated sampling was used to identify 1,353 public, private, and parochial schools of all sizes and geographic locations in the United States.


Public, private, and parochial senior high schools in the United States.



1,063 public, private, and parochial senior high schools were asked to participate in Project Talent. Of these schools, 987 (93 percent) agreed to take part. With the exception of New York City and Chicago schools, every student in a participating school became part of the study. All 9th-graders in the junior high schools associated with participating senior high schools were also included. 238 junior high schools were part of Project Talent, bringing the total number of randomly selected schools to 1,225. In addition, 128 schools asked to participate in the study as "volunteer" schools, bringing the total number of schools in Project Talent to 1,353.



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:
  • American Institutes for Research. Project Talent, Base Year Data, 1960. ICPSR33341-v2. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2013-05-23.

2013-05-23 Changes were made to the documentation set. PDF codebooks were added for each part which were produced by ICPSR.

2012-02-14 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:

  • Performed consistency checks.
  • Created variable labels and/or value labels.
  • Standardized missing values.
  • Created online analysis version with question text.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.