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Q:  

I need a data file that is gathered monthly so that I can examine the change in optimism for the population. I need for the data collection to have taken place in 2008.

A:  

Two choices come to mind. The first is the General Social Survey (GSS). These data are gathered in even numbered years (used to be annual). Date of interview is an item in the survey so you can create a "month" item. The 2008 data are not yet available, but you can examine the 2006 file to see which items will work best for you, e.g., have enough cases to examine on a monthly basis.

There are many attitude items that might meet your "optimism" measure. The best source for searching for items is:

http://www.norc.org/GSS+Website/Browse+GSS+Variables/

Choose Subject Index

Initially, all you get is letters of the alphabet, but if you click on F, you will see Fair, Faith, Feelings. . . as choices. Under "Feelings" are about a dozen choices.

GSS has an on-line analysis and download system based on NESSTAR. Otherwise, once you know which variables you want, you can access the data via ICPSR:

http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/cocoon/ICPSR/STUDY/04697.xml

Another choice is the Survey of Consumers. This is a survey of consumer sentiment. It is gathered monthly. You can examine the data via year, quarter or month. There are good SES controls in the data (e.g., income, education).

Here are some instructions on access to these data.

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