Combining multiple years of ATUS data

Multi-year microdata files that combine several years of ATUS microdata are available for 2003-2014 and for 2003-2015. Because of changes to ATUS methods from 2003 to 2015, these multi-year files are not identical to what would be produced by simply combining single years of ATUS data.

Researchers not wishing to use the multi-year files, and preferring instead to combine single-year ATUS microdata must be aware of changes to ATUS survey methods from 2003 to 2015. This page includes links to resources that will assist researchers when determining how to create multi-year ATUS data sets and provides guidance about which population weighting variables are comparable between years.

Overview of changes to the ATUS survey methods

Changes to the ATUS Coding Lexicons

Changes to the ATUS weighting method

There were no changes in the method used to generate statistical weights (the variable TUFINLWGT) on the ATUS data files from 2006 and 2015. However, the method used to generate the weighting variable TUFINLWGT on the ATUS files changed each year from 2003 to 2006. Thus, researchers who create multi-year data sets should not use the weighting variable TUFINLWGT for all years.

Valid weights for various combinations of years

Combining 2003 through 2015 data files (or any combination of files from these years)

  • 2003 through 2005: use TU06FWGT
  • 2006 through 2015: use TUFINLWGT

Combining 2003 through 2005 data files (or any combination of files from these years)

  • 2003 through 2005: use TU06FWGT
  • OR

  • 2003: use TU04FWGT
  • 2004 and 2005: use TUFINLWGT

For more information about ATUS population weights, why researchers should use them, and details about how the ATUS weighting method changed from 2003 to 2015, please see the ATUS User's Guide (PDF).


Last Modified Date: July 15, 2016