Selected statistical trend data

Three primary data sets were used extensively in the research reported in Bowling Alone: Collapse and Revival of American Community.   Interested researchers should consult Bowling Alone (and especially Appendix I) for more details on these data sets. Two of these (the DDB Life Style archive and various state-level measures of social capital) are now available for downloading from this site. Thank you for your interest in Bowling Alone.

I.  The DDB Life Style data, made available through the generosity of DDB Worldwide of Chicago, Illinois, who retain appropriate rights, including copyright, on these data, while allowing fair use for scholarly and academic research.  Copyright 1975-1998 by DDB Worldwide.  Also available for downloading is a simple summary of the 389 variables in this data set.  In all this data set covers 1975-1998 with a total unweighted sample size of 84989.

For ease of downloading this data set is provided in several different formats (all contain exactly the same data, choose the one that best serves your needs):

We have also provided a data dictionary which explains the values of the different variables used.

Access Data Dictionary Here

The data sets are provided in zipped format which makes them quicker to download. In order to access the data you will need to “unzip” it using a program such as WinZip.

Download WinZip Here.

II.  The 14 state-level measures of social capital, along with the Comprehensive Social Capital Index, are described in Table 4 and pp. 290-291, of Bowling Alone; the underlying sources of these data are given in the end notes to those pages.

III.  The third data set, the Roper Social and Political Trends archive,
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 Robert D. Putnam of Harvard. The underlying surveys used to create the Roper Social and Political Trends data set are archived at the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Connecticut, and the Roper Center retains ownership of the data. For that reason, the Roper Social and Political Trends data set is available only from the Roper Center itself and only subject to their usual terms and conditions.

We expect that this data set will be released by the Roper Center sometime in the late summer or early fall 2000.

If you have any questions please email Below are some (but not all) of the specific questions from surveys that were analyzed and referred to in the book.

Selected Roper Social and Political Trends survey questions (1974-1997)

  1. 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 for 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
  2. Which, if any, of these things have you done in the past week?
    • Discussed politics
    • Had dinner in a restaurant
    • Had friends in for the evening
    • Went to the home of friends
    • Saw a movie
    • Made a personal long distance call
    • Read a book
    • Went to church
    • Watched a sports event on TV
    • Went out to watch a sports event
    • Went to club, disco, bar or place of entertainment
    • Spent time on a hobby
    • Wrote a personal letter
    • Received a personal letter
  3. How many times, if any, did you do any of these activities in the past month?
    • Made a contribution to charity
    • Did volunteer work
    • Donated blood
    • Went to friends’ house for dinner or evening
    • Had friends in for dinner or evening
    • Went to church social function
    • Went to meeting of club or civic organization
    • Went to dinner at restaurant
    • Went to night club, disco, bar
    • Went to live theater, opera, concerts
    • Went to sporting event
    • Went to the movies
  4. Which of the following things do you do most week nights after dinner and before bed?
    • Take a shower or bath
    • Read the newspaper
    • Watch news on TV
    • Watch other programs on TV
    • Read a book or magazine
    • Play records or tapes
    • Talk with family members
    • Spend time with children
    • Do house cleaning chores
    • Have a beer
    • Eat a snack
    • Read the mail
    • Walk the dog
  5. Which of the following things are part of “the good life” in your opinion?
    • A home you own
    • A yard and lawn
    • A second car
    • A vacation home
    • A swimming pool
    • A happy marriage
    • No children
    • One or two children
    • A job that pays more than average
    • A job that is interesting
    • A job that contributes to the welfare of society
    • College education for my children
    • Travel abroad
    • A second color TV set
    • Really nice clothes
    • A lot of money
    • A four-day work week
  6. How often do you do the following things together as a family unit? (asked of respondents with children under 18 living at home)
    • Having the main meal together
    • Sit and talk together
    • Watch TV together
    • Go out to eat together
    • Take a vacation together
    • Attend religious services together
    • Exercise/play sports together

Selected questions from the DDB Needham Life Style survey archive (1975-1999)

Leisure, social, personal activities: How many times during the past year did you…

  • Attend a pop or rock concert
  • Attend a lecture
  • Attend a sporting event
  • Attend church or other place of worship
  • Attend classical concert
  • Attend lecture or seminar
  • Buy or rent a video
  • Bowl
  • Cook outdoors
  • Do exercises at home
  • Do volunteer work
  • Entertain at home
  • Finish reading a book
  • Gamble in casino
  • Give or attend a dinner party
  • Give the finger to someone while driving
  • Have dinner at a restaurant
  • Make a long distance phone call
  • Play a musical instrument
  • Play cards
  • Play golf
  • Play home video game
  • Play softball
  • Play tennis
  • Play volleyball
  • Purchase condoms
  • Ride a bicycle
  • Send a greeting card
  • Stay late at work
  • Use an ATM
  • Use the Internet
  • Videotape a TV program
  • Visit a museum or gallery
  • Watch sports on TV
  • Go fishing
  • Go hunting
  • Go in-line skating
  • Go jogging
  • Go on a picnic
  • Go skiing
  • Go to a bar or tavern
  • Go to a club meeting
  • Go to a health club
  • Go to a public library
  • Go to an auto race
  • Go to an exercise class
  • Go to the movies
  • Work in the garden
  • Work on a community project
  • Write a letter to an editor

TV viewing habits

Because the DDB Needham Life Style archive includes exhaustive data on the respondents’ television viewing patterns, we are able to describe the personal and social habits of the audiences of various programs. Thus, for example, the most civic-minded audience in America watches Newshour with Jim Lehrer, while the least civic-minded watches … (guess!)

American states ranked according to the Social Capital Index 

The Social Capital Index is composed of the following fourteen indicators:

  1. Agree that “I spend a lot of time visiting friends”
  2. Agree that “Most people can be trusted”
  3. Agree that “Most people are honest”
  4. Attendance at any public meeting on town or school affairs in last year (percent)
  5. Number of civic and social organizations per 1000 population
  6. Average number of club meetings attended in last year
  7. Average number of group memberships
  8. Average number of times volunteered in last year
  9. Average number of times entertained at home in last year
  10. Average number of times worked on community project in last year
  11. Number of non-profit (501[c]3) organizations per 1000 population
  12. Served as officer of some club or organization in last year (percent)
  13. Served on committee of some local organization in last year (percent)
  14. Turnout in presidential elections, 1988 and 1992
Rank State Score
1 North Dakota 1.71
2 South Dakota 1.69
3 Vermont 1.42
4 Minnesota 1.32
5 Montana 1.29
6 Nebraska 1.15
7 Iowa 0.98
8 New Hampshire 0.77
9 Wyoming 0.67
10 Washington 0.65
11 Wisconsin 0.59
12 Oregon 0.57
13 Maine 0.53
14 Utah 0.50
15 Colorado 0.41
16 Kansas 0.38
17 Connecticut 0.27
18 Massachusetts 0.22
19 Missouri 0.10
20 Idaho 0.07
21 Arizona 0.06
22 Michigan 0.00
23 Delaware -0.01
24 Rhode Island -0.06
25 Indiana -0.08
26 Oklahoma -0.16
27 California -0.18
28 District of Columbia -0.18
29 Ohio -0.18
30 Pennsylvania -0.19
31 Illinois -0.22
32 Maryland -0.26
33 Virginia -0.32
34 New Mexico -0.35
35 New York -0.36
36 New Jersey -0.40
37 Florida -0.47
38 Arkansas -0.50
39 Texas -0.55
40 Kentucky -0.79
41 North Carolina -0.82
42 West Virginia -0.83
43 South Carolina -0.88
44 Tennessee -0.96
45 Louisiana -0.99
46 Alabama -1.07
47 Georgia -1.15
48 Mississippi -1.17
49 Nevada -1.43