Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)
This organization offers a substantial amount of social science data in machine readable form to its more than 600 colleges, universities, and institutions (data is available to individuals whose institutions are not members of the ICPSR). All their data is available on-line, and soon researchers at ICPSR institutions will be able to access it directly. Some data is available to non-ICPSR members.
In the section of the archive titled "Economic Behavior, Attitudes" you will find the Consumer Expenditure Survey and the Survey of Consumer Finances. Other data of possible interest (in other sections) includes the World Bank's World Tables of Economic and Social Indicators, 1950-1988; the NBER's Macroeconomic Time Series for the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and France (which has 1.6 million entries in numerous categories including regional data; most data is from the early part of the 20th century, but a substantial amount is from the 19th century; the most recent is from 1968); and United States Microdata Samples Extract File, 1940-1980: Demographics of Aging (which is an extract of the Censuses of 1960, 1970, and 1980). In addition, there is a substantial amount of more specialized data of likely interest to economists.
For economists, an especially useful collection of data is Class V, which contains data funded by the NSF's Economics Division. This data is in the "Publication-Related Archive" section of the archive. This material is available to all.
The Consumer Expenditures Survey and the Current Population Survey are available through their "FastTrack Service" (which makes data available before their usual testing and checking). Information on FastTrack datasets is available from their comprehensive list of resources on their main web page. The data itself is available on their ftp site in the "pub/FastTrack" directory. This material is available to all.
To obtain most data from ICPSR, you generally must contact your local representative, assuming that your university or college is a member of the ICPSR.
Information: ICPSR_Netmail@um.cc.umich.edu http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/