Data Access

Monitoring the Future is committed to making our data publically available, while also protecting and preserving the confidentiality of our study respondents. MTF data is hosted at the National Addiction & HIV Data Archive Program (NAHDAP), whose mission is to facilitate research on drug addiction and HIV infection by acquiring, enhancing, preserving, and sharing data produced by research grants, particularly those funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Monitoring the Future Public Use Cross-Sectional Datasets

The Monitoring the Future: A Continuing Study of the Lifestyles and Values of Youth annual surveys were designed to explore changes in important values, behaviors, and lifestyle orientations of contemporary American youth. The surveys began in 1975 with 12th-grade students only. Eighth- and 10th-grade student surveys were added in 1991 under the title Monitoring the Future: A Continuing Study of American Youth (8th- and 10th-Grade Surveys) and, in 1996, the designation “12th-Grade Survey” was added to the titles of the subsequent 12th-grade surveys. When examining the issues covered by the series, two general types of tasks may be distinguished. The first task is to provide a systematic and accurate description of the youth population of interest in a given year and to quantify the direction and rate of change occurring over time. The second task, more analytic than descriptive, involves the explanation of the relationships and trends observed. Each year, large, distinct, nationally representative samples of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students in the United States are asked to respond to drug use and demographic questions, as well as to additional questions on a variety of subjects, including attitudes toward religion, parental influences, changing roles of women, educational aspirations, self-esteem, exposure to sex and drug education, and violence and crime – both in and out of school. In each grade, students are randomly assigned to complete questionnaires with a subset of topical questions in addition to a set of core questions on demographics and drug use. For a guide to the questions asked each year in each questionnaire, along with their subject areas and variable names, users may refer to the question indexes available at NAHDAP.

Years Produced: Annually (Note: 1975 data is not available)

NAHDAP Public Use Cross-Sectional Datasets

Monitoring the Future Restricted-Use Cross-Sectional Datasets

This data collection is part of the Monitoring the Future series that explores changes in important values, behaviors, and lifestyle orientations of contemporary American youth in eighth, tenth, and twelfth grades. The collection provides two datasets for each year since 1976 that are accessible only through the ICPSR Virtual Data Enclave (VDE) and include original variables, including the unaltered weight variable, that in the public-use data were altered or omitted: one dataset without State and Zip Code and one dataset including State and Zip Code. Use of the geographic identifiers such as state or zip code is limited and researchers interested in these variables are encouraged to read FAQs: MTF Restricted-Use Geographic Variables.

Also included as part of each annual collection is a zip archive of the Monitoring the Future public-use data and documentation for each respective year. The basic research design used by the Monitoring the Future study involves annual data collections from eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders throughout the coterminous United States during the spring of each year. Identical forms are used for both eighth and tenth grades, and for the most part, questionnaire content is drawn from the twelfth-grade questionnaires. Thus, key demographic variables and measures of drug use and related attitudes and beliefs are generally identical for all three grades.

Years Produced: Annually (Note: 1975 data is not available. Data available from NAHDAP are the restricted-use and public-use annual cross-sectional datasets accessible only in the ICPSR Virtual Data Enclave)

NAHDAP restricted-use cross-sectional data

Monitoring the Future Restricted-Use Panel Data

The MTF Panel study conducts follow up surveys with representative subsamples of respondents from each senior year class, spanning modal ages 19–30 and 35–60. From each senior year cohort, a sample of about 2,450 students are selected for longitudinal follow up, with an oversampling of students who reported prior drug use during their senior year survey. The sample is randomly split into two halves (approx. 1,225 each) to be followed every other year. One half of the sample begins its first follow-up the next year at modal age 19, and the other half of the sample begins its first follow-up in the second year at modal age 20. The follow ups occur at modal ages: FU1=19/20, FU2=21/22, FU3=23/24, FU4=25/26, FU5=27/28, FU6=29/30. Respondents receive the same survey form for follow-up that they completed during their senior year.

When the follow up respondents reach age 35, they are surveyed every five years at ages 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60. Single questionnaires are presented at each age, covering many of the same topics as the age 19–30 surveys and including additional questions on life events, drug use, and health.

From 1976–2017, all Panel study surveys were conducted by mailing paper surveys. In 2018 and 2019, one random half of all those aged 19–30 received a mailed paper survey, while the other half received new web-push procedures and were encouraged to complete web surveys. In 2020, the transition to the web-push procedures began for the age 35+ surveys. All Panel study surveys now use web-push procedures.

Years Produced: Annually

NAHDAP restricted-use panel data