All respondent data collected within a survey in the American Life Panel are accompanied by demographic information about each respondent. This set of demographics is collected from respondents once every quarter via the household information survey. Up until July 2009, this data was matched with survey data after the survey was conducted. That is, based on the time at which the respondent started a survey the demographics information collected closest to this date for this respondent was retrieved and added to the survey data. This applies to almost all surveys numbered lower than Well Being 85 (with the exception of those surveys fielded after July 2009). As of July 2009 the demographics information for each respondent is added to the survey data pro-actively; that is, as the respondent starts the interview his/her demographics information is retrieved. The demographics information can be found in the Demographics module of each survey.
It should be noted that particularly for older surveys the Demographics module may contain custom demographic questions. The reason is that for those surveys it was deemed important to ensure that the most recent characteristics for those demographics were obtained. For example, Well Being 10 contains variables such as 'BYear' and 'BornState'. Whenever this is the case, the provided data set will encompass those variables, rather than the usual ones. That is, given that the data in those variables was explicitly collected within the survey, they will most accurately reflect the demographic characteristics of the respondent at that time.
All demographics variables have been collected in the ALP since January 2006 with the exception of those for which alternate dates are specified. By default the Demographics module contains the following variables:
- gender: Gender of the respondent.
- birthyear: Year of birth of the respondent.
- birthmonth: Month of birth of the respondent.
- birthday: Day of birth of the respondent.
- currentlivingsituation: Current living situation of the respondent.
- borninus: Indicates whether the respondent was born in the United States.
- stateborn: Identifies the state in which the respondent was born.
- citizenus: Indicates whether the respondent is a citizen of the United States.
- familyincome: Family income of the respondent's household in brackets up to $75000.
- familyincome_part2: Family income of the respondent's household in brackets above $75000.
- householdmembers: Number of members in the respondent's household.
- doyouwork: Indicates whether respondent works.
- highesteducation: Highest education level of the respondent.
- currentjobstatus: Current job status of the respondent.
- typework: The type of work performed by the respondent.
- statereside: The state in which the respondent resides.
- ethnicity: The ethnicity of the respondent (formerly provided as white prior to July 23th, 2011).
- ethnicity_asianpacificislander: Indicates whether the respondent is Asian or Pacific Islander if such ethnicity was selected for ethnicity (This variable was introduced November 7, 2011).
- hispaniclatino: Indicates whether the respondent is Hispanic or Latino (if applicable).
- mexican: Identifies the Hispanic or Latino background of the respondent (if applicable). NOTE: As of November 7, 2011 this variable has been replaced by the demographic variable hispaniclatino_detail. hispaniclatino_detail: Identifies the Hispanic or Latino background of the respondent (if applicable). NOTE: As of November 7, 2011 this variable replaces the demographic variable mexican. Where mexican allowed the respondent to choose multiple Hispanic origins, hispaniclatino_detail asks about what the respondent considers to be his/her primary Hispanic origin.
- recruitment_type: Identifies the recruitment group of the respondent's household (formerly provided as cati prior to July 23th, 2011).
- recruit_type: Identifies the individual panel member's method of recruitment.
- tsend: The date and time at which the demographics variables were collected.
In terms of question design, the data collected within the household information survey using these questions closely resembles that of related questions in the Current Population Survey (CPS). In order to obtain demographics for all currently active ALP panel members (rather than those applicable to a particular survey), data from the household information survey can also be directly downloaded (for example in order to examine the distribution of ethnicity as it is currently among panel members). For details on which ALP panel members are considered to be active, please consult the Panel attrition and response rates section. If you wish to obtain a data set with demographic data for all ALP panel members ever active within the panel, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to the recruitment type that is provided per respondent of a survey, two other variables are also available:
- first_contact: provides the date on which there was first contact with the respondent.
- contact_type: defines the type of contact for the first contact (e.g. email, phone).
These variables are available for download in the household information survey, and can be found in the Recruitment module. By default they are not included in a survey data set. They can be collected and/or made available on request.
Though the American Life Panel is a panel surveying individuals, a limited set of household related variables is collected. Specifically, the following information is gathered for each household member:
- householdmember_relation: the type of relationship between the respondent and the household member. This variable was introduced on November 7, 2011 and replaces the variable relatedrelation.
- householdmember_age: the age of the household member. Note: this variable may be named relatedage in survey data sets downloaded before November 7, 2011.
- householdmember_gender: the gender of the household member. Note: this variable may be named relatedgender in survey data sets downloaded before November 7, 2011.
These variables can be found in the Household members module in the household information survey. They are also available for download.
In addition to the default demographic variables a number of additional variables are collected in the Household information survey. By default these variables are not provided (e.g. they are not available for download when downloading the household information data) nor are they automatically added to survey data for each respondent. However, they can be collected and/or made available on request. This concerns the following variables:
- internetlocation: the type of location from which the respondent participates in surveys.
- internettypeconnection: the type of internet connection used by the respondent.
- typemodem: the type of modem used by the respondent.
- survey: whether the respondent is interested in participating in more than one survey per month.
- currentjobstatus_other: a textual description of job status that is not covered by the default categories.
- doyouwork_other: a textual description of how the respondent works (e.g. self-employed) that is not covered by the default categories
- hispaniclatino_detail_other: identifies the Hispanic origin of a respondent if it is not covered by the default categories provided in hispaniclatino_detail. This variable was introduced on November 7, 2011.
- householdmember_relation_other: captures types of relationship between the respondent and the household member not captured by the default categories in householdmember_relation. This variable was introduced on November 7, 2011.
Lastly, there is a set of variables available on request about respondents who responded to the Monthly Survey (MS) of the University of Michigan's Survey Research Center (see Sample composition for details). These variables contain demographic information as applicable at the time of recruitment:
- rage: age.
- sex: gender.
- race: race.
- marry: married.
- income: income.
- inc_bracket: income by category.
- education: education.
- educ_bracket: education by category.