ABOUT THE GENERAL SOCIAL SURVEY (GSS)
The General Social Survey (GSS) is a survey of a
representative sample of the American public. In particular, it is a
representative sample of "English‑speaking persons 18 years of age or
over, living in noninstitutional arrangements within the
The GSS has been conducted either yearly or every other year
since 1972 by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), which is affiliated
Year Sample Size
1982 1,506 (354 in African-American oversample)
1987 1,466 (353 in African-American oversample)
From 1972 to 1974, quota sampling was used to select the individuals in the sample. Both quota and random sampling were used in 1975 and 1976. Starting in 1977, each sample in the GSS was selected at random.
The GSS asks questions that cover an exceptionally broad range of topics that cover both basic characteristics (such as age and years of education) and social attitudes (such as attitudes about gun control and abortion).
Some of the core questions in the GSS are asked of all the respondents. Other questions are asked of only a randomly selected portion of the sample each year. As a result, more questions can be asked without over-burdening any one respondent.
Some questions in the survey instrument (called the permanent questions) are asked every time the survey is administered. Other questions (called rotating questions) are asked periodically. And some questions (called occasional questions) are asked on only a single survey.
Some of the commonly used variables in the GSS data set:
AGE AGE OF RESPONDENT
CLASS SUBJECTIVE CLASS IDENTIFICATION
DEGREE RS HIGHEST DEGREE
EDUC HIGHEST YEAR OF SCHOOL COMPLETED
MARITAL MARITAL STATUS
PARTYID POLITICAL PARTY AFFILIATION
POLVIEWS THINK OF SELF AS LIBERAL OR CONSERVATIVE
RACECOMB RACE OF RESPONDENT
RELIG RS RELIGIOUS PREFERENCE
SEX RESPONDENTS SEX
WRKSTAT LABOR FRCE STATUS
YEAR GSS YEAR FOR THIS RESPONDENT