Monitoring the Future: A Continuing Study of American Youth (12th-Grade Survey), 2019 (ICPSR 37841)

Version Date: Oct 29, 2020 View help for published

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


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MTF 2019 (12th Grade)

These surveys of 12th-grade students are part of a series that explores changes in important values, behaviors, and lifestyle orientations of contemporary American youth. Students are randomly assigned to complete one of six questionnaires, each with a different subset of topical questions, but all containing a set of "core" questions on demographics and drug use. There are about 1,400 variables across the questionnaires. Drugs covered by this survey include tobacco, smokeless tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, hashish, prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, LSD, hallucinogens, amphetamines (stimulants), Ritalin (methylphenidate), sedatives/barbiturates, tranquilizers, cocaine, crack cocaine, GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate), ecstasy, methamphetamine, and heroin. Other topics include attitudes toward religion, changing roles for women, educational aspirations, self-esteem, exposure to drug education, and violence and crime (both in and out of school).

Highlights for 2019:

  • Change in methodology: half of the MTF schools completed in-class surveys on tablets loaded with the survey; the other half completed traditional paper-and-pencil surveys. Also see the Methodology section on this page for an overview and the codebook for details.
  • Expansion and revision of the study documentation in the codebook
  • New documentation available for download detailing the question adds/drops/changes to the surveys
  • Availability of supplemental data sets for previously unreleased questions

Two supplemental data files (DS8 and DS9) have been included this year by the Principal Investigators. These files each include three administrative variables for year (V1), form (V3), and ID (RESPONDENT_ID) along with a few additional variables of survey questions not previously released for Form 5 (DS8) and Form 6 (DS9) between the years 2016 to 2018. These same variables are already present in the main 2019 data files for Form 5 (DS6) and Form 6 (DS7). The front section of the codebook provides details about each of the variables. There are also instructions on how to merge the supplemental data on to the main data files for the previous three years:

Miech, Richard A., Johnston, Lloyd D., Bachman, Jerald G., O’Malley, Patrick M., Schulenberg, John E., and Patrick, Megan E. Monitoring the Future: A Continuing Study of American Youth (12th-Grade Survey), 2019. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2020-10-29.

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

Census Region

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.

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

2019 (Spring)
  1. This study was conducted by the Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.

  2. To protect the anonymity of respondents, all variables that could be used to identify individuals have been collapsed or recoded in the public use files. These modifications should not affect analytic uses of the public use files.

  3. For 2019, a single codebook containing frequency distributions for all nine datasets is produced. The codebook contains bookmarks to signify the start of each dataset. Otherwise the PDF document is organized in similar fashion to previous years with the front section detailing information about the study's history, purpose, sampling, design, content, and then appendices with a link to publications and information on response rates.

  4. Variables omitted from the Western region questionnaires are noted in the codebook.

  5. A cross-time question index is included with the available documentation for the MTF 12th-grade data. The document is sorted by subject area and covers the time period 1976 to 2019.

  6. Frequency and percentage distributions displayed in the 2019 codebook are unweighted, rather than weighted by variable "ARCHIVE_WT" (previously named "V5") as they had been in previous years. This change was made to simplify both the production of the codebook and their interpretation by the analyst.

  7. As referenced in the codebook two new PDF documents have been included for download to help provide additional context and understanding to data users. These new documents provided by the Principal Investigators for the first time detail changes in 2019 to the questionnaires. One document is organized by form. The other document is organized by change (dropped items, added items, changes to response categories, and changes to the text of the question). Each document covers changes for both the 8th/10th grade and 12th grade data. Therefore, the exact same documents are available for download with the 8th- and 10th-grade data (ICPSR 37842).
  8. MTF does not release detailed geography codes in its public use files because of the disclosure risk it would cause. The MTF sample is drawn to generate representative samples of the four Census Bureau regions of the country (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West), but it does not generate representative samples of smaller geographic areas such as states, counties, or cities. For additional information about data that are withheld from the public use files, please see the study codebook.

  9. With the approval of the MTF Principal Investigators ICPSR created a series of dichotomous recodes for 10 substances for the three standard time periods (lifetime, past 12 months, and past 30 days). The substances include tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, LSD, other psychedelics, amphetamines, sedatives/barbiturates, tranquilizers, inhalants, and other narcotics. These variables have been placed at the end of the Core data file (DS1). Each variable has the same name and label as the original, but with the addition of the letter "D" at the end of the variable name and the words "(dichotomous recode)" included at the end of the variable label. This was only done for the core file.

  10. Using these new dichotomous recode variables ICPSR has created interactive maps to show the weighted response for each dichotomous variable by Census region. To create a map simply select the desired year/grade and question/variable. Then click on "Go". The resulting map will rank the regions by color. The Census region with the darkest shade will show the highest frequency of use. A frequency table is also provided. SPECIAL NOTE: Due to the recent update of the NAHDAP website the interactive maps feature is not yet available, but will be soon.

  11. For further information about Monitoring the Future please visit their web site. The site provides links to more publications, press releases, and data findings.

A total of 13,713 12th grade students completed a survey in 2019. The number of students completing each form were:

  • Core Data: 13,713
  • Form 1 Data: 2,284
  • Form 2 Data: 2,299
  • Form 3 Data: 2,266
  • Form 4 Data: 2,313
  • Form 5 Data: 2,274
  • Form 6 Data: 2,277

Beginning in 2019 half of the schools were randomly selected where students completed the survey via electronic tablet instead of the traditional paper-and-pencil version. Differences in responses by survey mode were negligible. Two new variables TABLET and RANDOMDRAW are included in the datasets. The variable TABLET recorded which format (paper or tablet) was administered to the student.

The variable RANDOMDRAW gives information on where tablet-only questions were asked within the survey. Some students who utilized the tablet to complete the survey were asked additional questions not asked of others who also used the tablet. These variables contain unique missing value codes to account for cases where the questions were not administered to the student. The codebook provides additional details about the tablet survey module. This additional section of variables was included in 4 of the 6 questionnaire forms and then also included in the core data file. These variables can be found in the following datasets:

  • DS1: Core Data
  • DS2: Form 1 Data
  • DS3: Form 2 Data
  • DS5: Form 4 Data
  • DS7: Form 6 Data

A multistage area probability sample design was used 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. Of the 72 PSUs, 8 were selected with certainty, 10 were selected with a probability of .50, and the remainder were selected using a probability based on their 2010 Census household count. Generally speaking, in schools with more than 350 seniors, a sample of seniors or classes was drawn. In schools with less than 350 seniors, all seniors were asked to participate unless logistical challenges required a sample be taken. Each school was asked to participate for two years so that each year one-half of the sample would be replaced. Schools refusing participation were replaced with similar schools in terms of geographic location, size, and type of school (e.g., public, private/Catholic, private/non-Catholic). The participation rate among schools has been between 66 and 85 percent since the inception of the study. The total sample of 12th graders was divided randomly into 6 subsamples, each to be administered a different form of the questionnaire. "Core" drug and demographic questions were included in all questionnaire forms.

Longitudinal: Trend / Repeated Cross-section

High school seniors in the contiguous United States.


There are about 1,400 variables across the questionnaires. On average, each form consisted of 348 questions. Some questions were repeated on multiple forms and some were asked on all six forms. All of the survey questions are categorical in nature. The majority of questions fall into one of seven types of response options.

  • Yes / No
  • Marked / Not Marked
  • Agree / Disagree scale (5 point)
  • Disapproval scale (3 point)
  • Risk scale (4 point)
  • Frequency of days (6 ponit)
  • Frequency of use (7 point)

The Core Data file is a compilation of variables from the six questionnaire forms. Variables contained in the Core data file may not appear in all six forms. ICPSR created the final 30 variables of the Core data file to aid in analysis and utility.

The overall student response rate for 2019 was 80 percent.



2020-10-29 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.
  • Created online analysis version with question text.
  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

The file contains a weight variable, ARCHIVE_WT. It originally varied by school but was modified to protect respondent confidentiality. Users should use the weight variable for all analyses, the results of which will differ slightly from published data tables that used original data.

OF SPECIAL NOTE: As the MTF respondents are sampled using a multi-stage sampling design, it is often desirable to incorporate the complex sample design information into analyses. However, in order to protect respondent confidentiality, the variables that represent the complex sample design of the MTF, i.e., sampling stratum and cluster, are omitted from the public use files. For researchers who wish to incorporate the unaltered weight variable and complex sample design variables into their analyses, these variables are now accessible through restricted access from NAHDAP. Please see Monitoring the Future (MTF) Restricted-Use Cross-Sectional Datasets for details.



  • 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.