Princeton University Library

National Crime Victimization Survey

  • Name of Study: National Crime Victimization Survey
  • Producer: U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Justice Statistics at
  • Scope of Study: The National Crime Victimization Survey, which was called the National Crime Survey from 1973 through 1991, is the primary source of information on personal and household criminal victimization in the United States, reporting frequency, characteristics and consequences. The survey reports the likelihood of victimization by rape, sexual assault, robbery, assault, theft, household burglary, and motor vehicle theft for the population as a whole as well as for segments of the population such as women, the elderly, members of various racial groups, city dwellers, and other groups. The NCVS provides data on (1) the victims and consequences of crime, (2) the number and type of crimes not reported to the police, (3) uniform measures of selected types of crimes, and (4) on the patterns on location of type of crime. Personal crimes covered include rape, sexual attack, robbery, and assault. Property crimes include burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, and vandalism.
    Characteristics and circumstances of the victimization are asked in each incident report. Items such as time and place of occurrence, injuries suffered, medical expenses incurred, number, age race, and sex of offender, relationship of offender to victim (stranger, casual acquaintance, relative, etc.) Also included are the victims' education, migration, labor force status, occupation, and income.
  • Years Covered: Annually from 1973 as National Crime Survey; Redesign 1992 as National Crime Victimization Survey, continues to present.
  • Sample Size and Makeup: Annual data are obtained from a nationally representative sample of some 50,000 households comprising about 100,000 persons through personal interviews.
  • How segmented: Each "annual" file contains six quarterly files covering the most recent eighteen months. Segmented by Address ID, Household, Persons, and Incident.
  • Where is the documentation? Princeton Codebook Collection: XVII E NCS
  • Where do I get the data? See NOTIS Main Catalog and the Data Library Catalog for study numbers and access.
  • Related text publications: Criminal Victimization 1998: Changes 1997-98 with Trends 1993-98 annual and Criminal Victimization and Perceptions of Community Safety in 12 Cities, 1998, also annual .
  • Excluded data: Crimes such as murder, kidnapping, shoplifting and gambling are not covered.
  • Sample questions which can be answered with this data:
    1. What time of day is my car more likely to be stolen?
    2. Are unemployed persons more or less likely than those with jobs to be the victims of crime?
    3. What is the average cost of medical treatment for the victim of criminal assault?
    4. Are city, suburban, or rural homes more likely to be burglarized?
    5. What percentage of crimes are not reported to the police?
    What types are more or less likely to be reported?

  • Last modified: February 3, 2000.
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