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General Social Survey
1972-2012


Overview GSS Codebook
Contents RoperExpress Download
Technical Specifications Order GSS on CD-ROM
Special Topic Modules Errata 1972-2012

General Social Survey

GSS 1972-2012 Cumulative Data File via RoperExpress

The 1972-2012 GSS cumulative data file for the National Opinion Research Center's General Social Surveys (GSS) is available from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research via RoperExpress immediate download or on CD-ROM.

These data have been processed by The Roper Center and differ in several ways from the original version supplied by NORC. During the archival process, systematic changes have been made to the data files for completeness.

These changes include:

  • Additions and corrections to response labeling
  • Inclusion of “Don’t know” responses as valid
  • Since a number of variables differ and new variables have been added to the cumulative data file, the codebook frequencies should not be trusted as definitive response distributions.

In 2008 the GSS was in transition from a replicating cross-sectional design to a design that uses rotating panels. There were two components: a new 2008 cross-section with 2,023 cases and the first reinterviews with 1,536 respondents from the 2006 GSS. In 2010 the new design was fully implemented. There is a new cross-section of about 2,044 cases, the first reinterviews of the 2008 GSS respondents, and the second and final reinterviews of the 2006 GSS respondents. This three-wave, rolling panel design was also used in 2012. Each GSS will thus 1) start a new 4-year/3-wave panel, 2) be in the middle of a 4-year/3-wave panel, and 3) finish a still earlier 4-year/3-wave panel.

 

GSS Description

The National Data Program for the Social Sciences (General Social Survey) is both a data diffusion project and a program of social indicator research. Its data collection instrument, the General Social Survey (GSS), was fielded for the 29th time in 2012. Previously an annual survey, the GSS became biennial in 1994. The questionnaire contains a standard core of demographic and attitudinal variables, plus certain topics of special interest selected for rotation (called "topical modules"). Items that appeared on national surveys between 1973 and 1975 are replicated. The exact wording of these questions is retained to facilitate time trend studies as well as replications of earlier findings.

The newly released data file contains individual response coding for 57,061 respondents and 5,548 variables. The 2012 GSS follows the biennial, double sample design that was first adopted in 1994.

The Principal Investigators are James A. Davis, formerly Director of NORC and now a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago, Tom W. Smith, Senior Fellow and Director of the General Social Survey (GSS), NORC and Director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Society, and Peter V. Marsden, Research Associate, NORC and Department of Sociology, Harvard University.

The new survey has been added to the cumulative file, which now contains data spanning 40 years.

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Contents of the GSS CD-ROM

Folder Structure Description
Data
   
/1972-2012/gss1972-2012.zip
 
gss1972-2012.dat Cumulative data file (57,061 records, 8,251 record length)
 
gss1972-2012.txt Column guide for gss1972-2012.dat
/gss1972-2012.por SPSS portable file (cumulative file)
/2012/  
 
gss2012.dat Data file for the 2012 year survey only (1,974 records, 1,831 record length)
 
gss2012.por SPSS portable file--2012 year survey only
 
gss2012.txt Column guide for gss2012.dat

Codebook
   
/codebook.pdf Codebook in searchable PDF format
/codebook_errata.pdf Updated information about the codebook

readme.txt
Description of the CD-Rom with helpful hints
2012weights.doc
Description of the 2012 weighting scheme
Updates_and_Errata.doc
Provides links to updates and information

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GSS 1972-2012 Technical Specifications

GSS Methodology
The General Social Surveys have been conducted during the first six months of each year. There are a total of 55,087 completed interviews:

Year
n
Year
n
Year
n
1972
1,613
1984
1,473
1996
2,904
1973
1,504
1985
1,534
1998
2,832
1974
1,484
1986
1,470
2000
2,807
1975
1,490
1987
1,466
2002
2,765
1976
1,499
*1987
353
2004
2,812
1977
1,530
1988
1,481
2006
4,510
1978
1,532
1989
1,537
2008
2,023
1980
1,468
1990
1,372
2010
2,044
1982
1,506
1991
1,517
2012
1,974
*1982
254
1993
1,606
   
1983
1,599
1994
2,992
   
*Black oversample

The median length of the interview has been about one and a half hours.

GSS Sample Design
  • Each survey from 1972 to 2012 was an independently drawn sample of English-speaking persons 18 years of age or over, living in non-institutional arrangements within the United States.
  • Starting in 2006 Spanish-speakers were added to the target population.
  • Block quota sampling was used in 1972, 1973, and 1974 surveys and for half of the 1975 and 1976 surveys.
  • Full probability sampling was employed in half of the 1975 and 1976 surveys and the 1977, 1978, 1980, 1982-1991, 1993-1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012 surveys.
  • Also, the 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012 surveys had sub-sampled non-respondents (see Appendix A for a detailed description of the sample design).

GSS Data Processing

The data from the interviews were processed according to standard NORC procedures.

This cumulative data set merges all 29 surveys into a single file with each year or survey acting as a sub file. This greatly simplifies the use of the General Social Surveys for both trend analysis and pooling. In addition, this cumulative data set contains newly created variables (e.g. a poverty line code). Finally, the cumulative file contains certain items never before available.

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GSS 1972-2012 Special Topical Modules

  • Gender roles
  • Generosity
  • Information Society
  • Knowledge about and attitudes towards science
  • Religious identity
  • Religious trends, repeating a number of items from earlier GSS
  • Sexual behavior (continuing the series started in 1988)
  • Social Inequality
  • Workplace Violence

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GSS 1972-2012 Cumulative Codebook

by Tom W. Smith, Peter V. Marsden, Michael Hout, and Jibum Kim

GSS Codebook Description

Comprehensive information on all aspects of the General Social Surveys 1972-2012 project. Codebook contains exact question text, response codes and frequency counts for 5,548 variables used by the National Opinion Research Center during the past 40 years. While the codebook is intended to be used in conjunction with the General Social Survey 1972-2012 cumulative data file, the codebook alone holds a wealth of opinion data on a wide variety of social issues.

 

Table of Contents
Introduction
New Developments
Abbreviations and Data Identification Numbers
Index to Data Set
Codes for the 1972-2012 Surveys -- Includes variable names, exact question text, response categories and codes, and unweighted marginal frequencies for questions in selected years.
General Social Survey Topical Modules
International Social Survey Program (ISSP) Modules
Other GSS Variables (including socio-demographic variables)
Appendices

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GSS RoperExpress Download

The GSS 2012 dataset and codebook are available for immediate download via RoperExpress.

Download GSS Dataset and Codebook on RoperExpress now!

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Order the 1972-2012 GSS on CD-ROM

The GSS 1972-2012 on CD-ROM (includes data & electronic codebook in PDF) is available at the following rates:

  • Academic - $450.00
  • Non-Academic - $600.00.


Please contact the Roper Center at 860.486.4440 or email Data Services at DataServices-RoperCenter@uconn.edu.

 

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