March 1, 2010 – General Social Surveys, 1972-2008 is now available from ICPSR. The General Social Surveys (GSS) were designed as part of a data diffusion project in 1972. The GSS replicated questionnaire items and wording in order to facilitate time-trend studies. You must create a MyData account at ICPSR before downloading the data.
The latest survey, GSS 2008, includes a cumulative file that merges all 27 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 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.
Several thematic collections of data are available from ICPSR.