Monitoring the Future: Restricted-Use Panel Data, United States, 1976-2019 (ICPSR 37072)

Version Date: Mar 27, 2023 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
John E. Schulenberg, University of Michigan. Survey Research Center; Richard A. Miech, University of Michigan. Survey Research Center; Lloyd D. Johnston, University of Michigan. Survey Research Center; Patrick M. O'Malley, University of Michigan. Survey Research Center; Jerald G. Bachman, University of Michigan. Survey Research Center; Megan E. Patrick, University of Michigan. Survey Research Center

Version V5 ()

  • V5 [2023-03-27]
  • V4 [2022-03-01] unpublished
  • V3 [2020-09-08] unpublished
  • V2 [2018-05-11] unpublished
  • V1 [2018-05-11] unpublished
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MTF Panel Data

The Monitoring the Future (MTF) project is a long-term epidemiologic and etiologic study of substance use among youth and adults in the United States. It is conducted at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, and funded by a series of investigator-initiated research grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. MTF has two components: MTF Main and MTF Panel.

From its inception in 1975, the cross-sectional MTF Main study has collected data annually from nationally representative samples of 12,000-19,000 high school seniors in 12th grade located in approximately 135 schools nationwide. Beginning in 1991, similar annual cross-sectional surveys of nationally representative samples of 8th and 10th graders have been conducted. In all, approximately 45,000 students annually respond to about 100 drug use and demographic questions, as well as to about 200 additional questions divided among multiple survey forms on other topics such as attitudes toward government, social institutions, race relations, changing gender roles, educational aspirations, occupational aims, and marital plans.

The longitudinal MTF Panel study conducts follow-up surveys with representative subsamples of respondents from each 12th grade cohort participating in MTF Main. From each cohort, a sample of about 2,450 students are selected for longitudinal follow-up, with an oversampling of students who reported prior drug use during their 12th grade survey. Longitudinal follow-up currently spans modal ages 19-30 and 35-60. For surveys at modal ages 19-30, the sample is randomly split into two halves (approx. 1,225 each) to be followed every other year. One half-sample begins its first follow-up the year after high school (at modal age 19), and the other half-sample begins its first follow-up in the second year after high school (at modal age 20). Thus, six young adult follow-up (FU) surveys occur between modal ages 19-30, at modal ages 19/20 (FU1), 21/22 (FU2), 23/24 (FU3), 25/26 (FU4), 27/28 (FU5), and 29/30 (FU6). After age 30, respondents are surveyed every five years: 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60 (these are referred to as FZ surveys). The FZ surveys cover many of the same topics as the 12th grade and FU surveys and include additional questions on life events and health.

MTF Panel surveys for the young adults (ages 19-30) were conducted using mailed paper surveys from 1977-2017. In 2018 and 2019, a random half of all those aged 19-30 received a mailed paper survey, while the other half were surveyed using a new procedure that encouraged participation using web surveys (web-push). The FZ surveys (ages 35-60) were conducted using mailed paper surveys through the 2019 data collection.

More information about the MTF project can be accessed through the Monitoring the Future website. Annual reports are published by the research team, describing the data collection and trends over time.

Schulenberg, John E., Miech, Richard A., Johnston, Lloyd D., O’Malley, Patrick M., Bachman, Jerald G., and Patrick, Megan E. Monitoring the Future: Restricted-Use Panel Data, United States, 1976-2019. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2023-03-27.

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United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA001411, DA016575)

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Users are reminded that these data are to be used solely for statistical analysis and reporting of aggregated information, and not for the investigation of specific individuals or organizations.

Access to the data is restricted. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete a Restricted Data Use Agreement. Data are provided via ICPSR's Virtual Data Enclave (VDE). Apply for access to these data through the ICPSR VDE portal. Information and instructions are available within the data portal. For further assistance please reference the VDE Guide to learn about the application process, about using the VDE, and how to request disclosure review of VDE output.

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

1976 -- 2019
1976-01-01 -- 2018-05-31 (Base-year in-school data collection, annually between January and May), 1977-04-01 -- 2019-10-31 (Longitudinal follow-up mail surveys, annually between April and October)

The nationally-representative base year cohort sample (i.e. each high school senior class) was selected using a multistage area probability sample design involving three selection stages: (1) geographic areas or primary sampling units (PSUs), (2) schools (or linked groups of schools) within PSUs, and (3) students within sampled schools.

Each year, 2,450 respondents to the 12th grade survey were selected for biennial longitudinal follow-up. The panel sample was selected within school by form and gender, and each base-year school was required to have a minimum of two follow-up selections (individuals). The base year sampling weight was factored into the targeted sample size for each school/form/gender combination. An illicit drug user/nonuser stratification was created, based on responses to nine base year questions about 30-day drug use. (An individual was considered a "user" if they reported any use of LSD, hallucinogens other than LSD, cocaine, amphetamines, sedatives/barbiturates, tranquilizers, heroin, or narcotics other than heroin, or used marijuana 20 or more times in the past 30 days.) Illicit drug users were sampled at a 3-to-1 rate relative to non-users.

When the 12th grade respondents originally selected for follow-up reach age 35, they continue to be surveyed every five years at ages 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60. Single questionnaires are presented at each age, covering many of the same topics as the age 19-30 surveys and including additional questions on life events, drug use, and health.

Please see the MTF Restricted Panel Data User's Guide for additional sampling details.

Longitudinal: Panel

Young adult and Middle adult follow-up of the U.S. high school seniors in MTF in the year of the baseline interview.


For information regarding response rates, users should refer to the summary information in Appendix A of the MTF Restricted Panel Data User's Guide.



2023-03-27 Added a third dataset, Panel Analysis Weights, accompanying documentation, and an updated User Guide.

2022-03-01 Additional variables and years of data were added to the Core Panel Data and the FZ Panel dataset has been added to the collection. Accompanying documentation files were updated and added to reflect these changes.

2020-09-08 Additional variables and years of data were added to the current data file. The accompanying documentation files were updated to reflect these changes.

2018-05-11 Collection was updated to correct error in documentation.


Panel analysis weights are available and recommended for use with all analyses.

Using the panel analysis weight allows estimates to weight back to the national 12th grade samples while accounting for:

  1. the probability of initial selection into the 12th grade samples,
  2. the fraction of each 12th grade sample not eligible for panel selection because they did not provide contact information and/or data on sex
  3. the panel sample selection process including oversampling of those reporting drug use at base year
  4. panel attrition.

Please see the MTF Occasional Paper 98: An Updated Weighting Strategy for the Monitoring the Future Panel Study for methodological details on the creation of the panel analysis weights, and review Appendix B - MTF Panel Analysis Weight Selection and Normalization in the MTF Restricted Panel Data User's Guide for analytic examples.



  • 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.

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions. Restricted data files are not available for direct download from the website; click on the Restricted Data button to learn more.