Frequently asked questions

Below is a list of frequently asked questions about the American Life Panel Data Pages. Should the answer to your question not be listed here, please contact us at alpdata@rand.org.

You can find a description of our panel, projects, some of the ways our data is being used, and much more, here: https://www.rand.org/research/data/alp.html

What is the American Life Panel, and how can I use it for research?

For information on the American Life Panel, please click here: https://www.rand.org/research/data/alp.html

How do I navigate to a particular survey or question?

Start by clicking on Data in the navigation bar at the top of the screen. This will bring up a list of all available surveys. To find more information for a survey, click on the link on the name of the survey. This will take you to the Survey Page where you will find links to data and codebook downloads.

How do I access the data?

Once you have registered as an ALP Data Pages user (click here to register), you can download data for an individual survey from its Survey Page. You will find download links towards the bottom of the page.

Please note that if the status of survey data says "Under Embargo", this means that the data is not currently available to the public. Only survey authors who have registered as an ALP Data Pages user can access the data at this time. Surveys under embargo are highlighted in pink and include a lock symbol. If you click on the survey, you will see under "Description" the date the survey embargo will be lifted.

There are variables in my dataset that don't have any values. Did something go wrong with the data export?

Some datasets contain variables with no data. This can be due to the skip patterns in the survey, causing some questions not to be asked, etc. Please check the paper version of the survey available on the Survey page to find out if this is the case. Another potential reason is that the questions were presenting information to the respondent rather than soliciting an answer. If none of the above apply, please contact us at alpdata@rand.org with details about the survey dataset you were trying to download.

Can I find out how questions in a survey were asked?

Under the "Download Metadata" header at the bottom right side of each Survey Page you can download the survey paper version. This document describes the questions that were asked in the survey.

How can I identify and match panel members that participated in multiple surveys?

Each American Life Panel member is assigned an unique identifier called "prim_key" in the data. This identifier is used during survey data collection to link data to particular members. Identifiers are of the form 12345678:1, where the part before the ":" (i.e. 12345678) represents the household identifier, whereas the suffix behind the ":" represent the household member identifier.

I have cases in my dataset where the identifier ends in ':2' or ':3'. What does that mean?

Although the American Life Panel is primarily an individual panel, there are households that consist of multiple respondents. In such cases all respondents within the household share the same household identifier (everything before the ":"), but differ in their suffix behind the ":". To find out the relationship between the primary respondent in the household (with suffix ":1") and other household members, you can consult the household members module in the Household information survey.

What happens if people move out of a multi-respondent household?

In the event that a household member moves out of a household consisting of multiple respondent but remains a panel member, s/he is assigned a new identifier. In order to be able to trace respondents in the data as they migrate in and/or out of households, each dataset for a survey contains a variable called 'oldprim_key' (located in the Demographics module of the survey), which will contain the previous identifier of a respondent. The variable will have no value for a respondent if s/he did not previously have a different identifier. A complete household migration file is available for download from the Survey Page of the household information survey.

ALP suggested citation

Citing ALP correctly in your report or publication helps RAND identify and potentially promote your work.

        Survey name, number, and year fielded
🡇
RAND American Life Panel. American Working Conditions Survey [W02], ms503 (2018). Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, April 2019.
    🡅    
   

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