Monitoring the Future: A Continuing Study of American Youth (8th- and 10th-Grade Surveys), 2019 (ICPSR 37842)

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 (8th/10th Grade)

These surveys of 8th- and 10th-grade students are part of a series that explores changes in important values, behaviors, and lifestyle orientations of contemporary American youth. Students in each grade are randomly assigned to complete one of four questionnaires, each with a different subset of topical questions but containing a set of "core" questions on demographics and drug use. There are more than 500 variables across the questionnaires. Drugs covered by this survey include amphetamines (stimulants), barbiturates (tranquilizers), other prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, tobacco, smokeless tobacco, vaping, alcohol, inhalants, steroids, marijuana, hashish, LSD, hallucinogens, cocaine, crack, ecstasy, methamphetamine, and injectable drugs such as heroin.

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

A supplemental data file (DS2) has been included this year by the Principal Investigators. This file includes 17 variables (6 administrative and 11 survey questions) and 93,034 cases from the years 2016 to 2018. These same 11 variables are already in the main data file (DS1) for 2019. 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 (8th- and 10th-Grade Surveys), 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. Subsequent to a significant change made in 2012, the data files from the two grades and four forms are merged to create a single file. The variables V3 and V501 designate the form number and grade, respectively. The end of each variable label lists the form(s) on which the question appeared. The missing value (-8) is used to distinguish those cases where the question corresponding to a given variable was not asked on a particular form.

  3. 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 are noted in the codebook. They should not affect analytic uses of the public use files.

  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 8th- and 10th-grade data. The document is sorted by subject area and covers the time period 1991 to 2019.

  6. Frequency and percentage distributions displayed in the 2019 codebook are unweighted, rather than weighted 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 12th grade data (ICPSR 37841).
  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 data file. 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.

  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 28,818 students completed a survey in 2019. There were 14,223 8th graders and 14,595 10th graders. The number of students completing each form were:

  • Form 1: 9,578
  • Form 2: 9,595
  • Form 3: 4,825
  • Form 4: 4,820

The split is approximately equal between forms completed by 8th graders and 10th graders.

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 dataset. 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.

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 students in the grade, a sample of students or classes was drawn. In schools with fewer than 350 students in a grade, all students were asked to participate unless logistical challenges required a sample be taken. For the 8th-grade survey, schools with fewer than 20 8th graders were generally excluded from the sample. For the 10th-grade survey, schools with fewer than 25 10th graders were excluded, with very few exceptions. 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 80 percent since the inception of the study.

Longitudinal: Trend / Repeated Cross-section

Enrolled 8th- and 10th-grade students in the contiguous United States.


The downloadable data file contains a total of 628 variables. The original file provided by the Principal Investigators contained 598 variables (587 survey questions and 11 administrative variables). ICPSR created the other 30 variables of the final downloadable file to aid in analysis and utility.

Not all of the 587 survey questions were asked on each form. There are 127 variables (22 percent) that are common among all 4 forms. Each variable label contains a notation of which forms asked that particular question. On average each form asked approximately 318 questions.

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 point)
  • Frequency of use (7 point)

The student response rates for the 2019 8th- and 10th-grade surveys were 89 percent and 86 percent, respectively.



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, V5. 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.