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Roper Social and Political Trends

Roper Social and Political Trends Data, 1973-1994, from RoperASW serves as one of three primary datasets used extensively in the research reported in Bowling Alone: Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert D. Putnam, Harvard University. In an effort to explore the current state of social capital in the United States, Putnam has tapped the rich collection of time-series data gathered by RoperASW (now know as GfK Consumer Life) from the fall of 1973 through 1994. This unique resource has now been contributed to the Roper Center at Cornell University in an effort to further the study of social capital and scientific social inquiry.

This dataset was compiled and cleaned through the efforts of a joint research team, headed by Professor Henry Brady of the University of California-Berkeley and Professor Putnam.

The dataset includes selected items from 207 public opinion surveys conducted as part of the Roper Reports series by the Roper Organization or its successor organization RoperASW between 1973 and 1994. More than 400,000 unique respondents are included in this cumulative file.

Each survey contains a twelve-item battery of questions about participation in political and social activities, as well as information about respondents’ demographic characteristics. With varying frequency, these surveys also include a wide range of other social and civic activities ranging from volunteer work to church attendance to dinner with friends.

Download Roper Social and Political Trends Data, 1973-1994 — Data & Documentation

Roper Social and Political Trends Data, 1973-1994 [31097293]

Note: Data subsequent to 1994 are available on a proprietary basis from RoperASW (now know as GfK Consumer Life).

Which, if any, of these things have you done in the past year?

  • Served as an officer of some club or organization
  • Worked for a political party
  • Served on a committee of some local organization
  • Attended a public meeting on town or school affairs
  • Attended a political rally or speech
  • Made a speech
  • Wrote congressman or senator
  • Signed a petition
  • Was a member of some “better government” group
  • Held or ran for political office
  • Wrote a letter to the paper
  • Wrote an article for a magazine or newspaper

Social and civic activities

  • Discussed politics
  • Had dinner in a restaurant
  • Had friends in for the evening
  • Went to the home of friends
  • Saw a movie
  • Made a contribution to charity
  • Did volunteer work
  • Donated blood
  • Went to meeting of club or civic organization
  • Read a book
  • Spent time on a hobby
  • Went to church
  • Watched a sports event on TV
  • Went out to watch a sports event
  • Made a personal long distance call
  • Wrote a personal letter
  • Received a personal letter
  • Went to club, disco, bar or place of entertainment


The Roper Center acknowledges the work of Robert Putnam, Henry Brady and their team, and RoperASW for their effort in bringing these data together and making them available for a broader research community.

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