General Social Survey (GSS)

DESCRIPTION: Since 1972 the General Social Survey (GSS) has been conducted to collect basic scientific research on the structure and development of American society. This was later modified in 1982 to a data-collection program designed to both monitor social change within the United States and to compare the United States to other nations. Questionnaire items and wording are replicated in order to facilitate time-trend studies. The most recently available wave, GSS 2008, includes a cumulative file that merges all 27 waves of the General Social Surveys into a single file containing data from 1972 to 2008. The items appearing in the surveys are one of three types: Permanent questions that occur on each survey, rotating questions that appear on two out of every three surveys (1973, 1974, and 1976, or 1973, 1975, and 1976), and a few occasional questions such as split ballot (a ballot is a subsample) experiments that occur in a single survey. The 2008 surveys included nine topical modules: knowledge about and attitude towards science, self-employment, Jewish identity, social inequality, terrorism preparedness, global economics, CDC high risk behaviors, sexual orientation, and clergy sex. The International Social Survey Program (ISSP) module included in the 2008 survey was religion. Specific topics included social-welfare and economic regulation, civil liberties, spending priorities, and political efficacy. The data also contain several variables describing the demographic characteristics of the respondents.

DATA and CODEBOOKS: The data and corresponding codebook for the 2004 GSS is available on the network (R:\CFDR\Public\Data\GSS). These can be obtained for the other years from the ICPSR ( and the GSS websites (