Data Dictionary: ACS 2006 (1-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Universe: Universe: Population 15 years and over
Variable Details
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2006 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Sex
The data on sex were derived from answers to Question 1. Individuals were asked to mark either "male" or "female" to indicate their sex. For most cases in which sex was not reported, the appropriate entry was determined from the person's given (i.e., first) name and household relationship. Otherwise, sex was imputed according to the relationship to the householder and the age of the person.
Sex Ratio
The sex ratio represents the balance between the male and female populations. Ratios above 100 indicate a larger male population, and ratios below 100 indicate a larger female population. This measure is derived by dividing the total number of males by the total number of females and then multiplying by 100. It is rounded to the nearest tenth.
Limitation of the data
Beginning in 2006, the population in group quarters (GQ) is included in the ACS. Some types of GQ populations have sex distributions that are very different from the household population. The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the sex distribution. This is particularly true for areas with a substantial GQ population.
The Census Bureau tested the changes introduced to the 2006 version of the sex question in the 2006 ACS Grid-Sequential Test (http://www.census.gov/acs/www/Downloads/ACS-MP-09_Grid-Sequential_Test_Final_Report.pdf). The results of this testing show that the changes may introduce an inconsistency in the data produced for this question as observed from the years 2006 to 2006.
Question/Concept History
The sex question has remained the same.
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2006 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Work Experience
The data on work experience were derived from answers to Questions 32, 33, and 34. This term relates to work status in the past 12 months, weeks worked in the past 12 months, and usual hours worked per week worked in the past 12 months.
Work Status in the Past 12 Months
The data on work status in the past 12 months were derived from answers to Question 32. People 16 years old and over who worked 1 or more weeks according to the criteria described below are classified as "Worked in the past 12 months." All other people 16 years old and over are classified as "Did not work in the past 12 months."
Weeks Worked in the Past 12 Months
The data on weeks worked in the past 12 months were derived from responses to Question 33, which was asked of people 16 years old and over who indicated that they worked during the past 12 months.
The data pertain to the number of weeks during the past 12 months in which a person did any work for pay or profit ( including paid vacation and paid sick leave) or worked without pay on a family farm or in a family business. Weeks of active service in the Armed Forces are also included.

Aggregate Weeks Worked in the Past 12 Months
Aggregate weeks worked is the sum of the values for weeks worked in the past 12 months of all the people in a particular universe. (For more information, see "Aggregate" under " Derived Measures .")
Mean Weeks Worked in the Past 12 Months
Mean weeks worked is the number obtained by dividing the aggregate number of weeks worked for a particular universe by the number of people in that universe. For example, mean weeks worked for workers 16 to 64 years old is obtained by dividing the aggregate weeks worked for workers 16 to 64 years old by the total number of workers 16 to 64 years old. Mean weeks worked values are rounded to the nearest one-tenth of a week. (For more information, see "Mean" under " Derived Measures .")
Usual Hours Worked Per Week Worked in the Past 12 Months
The data on usual hours worked per week worked in the past 12 months were derived from answers to Question 34. This question was asked of people 16 years old and over who indicated that they worked during the past 12 months. The data pertain to the number of hours a person usually worked during the weeks worked in the past 12 months. The respondent was to report the number of hours worked per week in the majority of the weeks he or she worked in the past 12 months. If the hours worked per week varied considerably during the past 12 months, the respondent was to report an approximate average of the hours worked per week.
People 16 years old and over who reported that they usually worked 35 or more hours each week during the weeks they worked are classified as "Usually worked full time;" people who reported that they usually worked 1 to 34 hours are classified as "Usually worked part time."
Aggregate Usual Hours Worked Per Week in the Past 12 Months
Aggregate usual hours worked is the sum of the values for usual hours worked each week of all the people in a particular universe. (For more information, see "Aggregate" under "Derived Measures.")
Mean Usual Hours Worked Per Week in the Past 12 Months
Mean usual hours worked is the number obtained by dividing the aggregate number of hours worked each week of a particular universe by the number of people in that universe. For example, mean usual hours worked for workers 16 to 64 years old is obtained by dividing the aggregate usual hours worked each week for workers 16 to 64 years old by the total number of workers 16 to 64 years old. Mean usual hours worked values are rounded to the nearest one-tenth of an hour. (For more information, see "Mean" under "Derived Measures.")
Full-Time, Year-Round Workers
All people 16 years old and over who usually worked 35 hours or more per week for 50 to 52 weeks in the past 12 months.
Number of Workers in Family in the Past 12 Months
The term "worker" as used for these data is defined based on the criteria for work status in the past 12 months.
Limitation of the Data
It is probable that the number of people who worked in the past 12 months and the number of weeks worked are understated since there is some tendency for respondents to forget intermittent or short periods of employment or to exclude weeks worked without pay. There may also be a tendency for people not to include weeks of paid vacation among their weeks worked; one result may be that the American Community Survey figures understate the number of people who worked "50 to 52 weeks."
The American Community Survey data refer to the 12 months preceding the date of interview. Since not all people in the American Community Survey were interviewed at the same time, the reference period for the American Community Survey data is neither fixed nor uniform.
Beginning in 2006, the population in group quarters (GQ) is included in the ACS. Some types of GQ populations may have work experience distributions that are different from the household population. The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the work experience distribution. This is particularly true for areas with a substantial GQ population.

Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2006 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Income in the Past 12 Months
The data on income were derived from answers to Questions 41 and 42, which were asked of the population 15 years old and over. Total income is the sum of the amounts reported separately for wage or salary income; net self-employment income; interest, dividends, or net rental or royalty income or income from estates and trusts; Social Security or railroad retirement income; Supplemental Security Income (SSI); public assistance or welfare payments; retirement, survivor, or disability pensions; and all other income. Receipts from the following sources are not included as income: capital gains, money received from the sale of property (unless the recipient was engaged in the business of selling such property); the value of income in kind from food stamps, public housing subsidies, medical care, employer contributions for individuals, etc.; withdrawal of bank deposits; money borrowed; tax refunds; exchange of money between relatives living in the same household; gifts and lump-sum inheritances, insurance payments, and other types of lump-sum receipts.
Income Type in the Past 12 Months
The eight types of income reported in the American Community Survey are defined as follows:
Wage or salary income
Wage or salary income includes total money earnings received for work performed as an employee during the past 12 months. It includes wages, salary, Armed Forces pay, commissions, tips, piece-rate payments, and cash bonuses earned before deductions were made for taxes, bonds, pensions, union dues, etc.
Self-employment income
Self-employment income includes both farm and non-farm self-employment income.
Farm self-employment income includes net money income (gross receipts minus operating expenses) from the operation of a farm by a person on his or her own account, as an owner, renter, or sharecropper. Gross receipts include the value of all products sold, government farm programs, money received from the rental of farm equipment to others, and incidental receipts from the sale of wood, sand, gravel, etc. Operating expenses include cost of feed, fertilizer, seed, and other farming supplies, cash wages paid to farmhands, depreciation charges, rent, interest on farm mortgages, farm building repairs, farm taxes (not state and federal personal income taxes), etc. The value of fuel, food, or other farm products used for family living is not included as part of net income.
Non-farm self-employment income includes net money income (gross receipts minus expenses) from ones own business, professional enterprise, or partnership. Gross receipts include the value of all goods sold and services rendered. Expenses include costs of goods purchased, rent, heat, light, power, depreciation charges, wages and salaries paid, business taxes (not personal income taxes), etc.
Interest, dividends, or net rental income
Interest, dividends, or net rental income includes interest on savings or bonds, dividends from stockholdings or membership in associations, net income from rental of property to others and receipts from boarders or lodgers, net royalties, and periodic payments from an estate or trust fund.
Social Security income
Social Security income includes Social Security pensions and survivor benefits, permanent disability insurance payments made by the Social Security Administration prior to deductions for medical insurance, and railroad retirement insurance checks from the U.S. government. Medicare reimbursements are not included.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a nationwide U.S. assistance program administered by the Social Security Administration that guarantees a minimum level of income for needy aged, blind, or disabled individuals. The Puerto Rico Community Survey questionnaire asks about the receipt of SSI; however, SSI is not a federally-administered program in Puerto Rico. Therefore, it is probably not being interpreted by most respondents in the same manner as SSI in the United States. The only way a resident of Puerto Rico could have appropriately reported SSI would have been if they lived in the United States at any time during the past 12-month reference period and received SSI.
Public assistance income
Public assistance income includes general assistance and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). Separate payments received for hospital or other medical care (vendor payments), are excluded. This does not include Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or noncash benefits such as Food Stamps. The terms "public assistance income" and "cash public assistance" are used interchangeably in the 2006 ACS data products.
Retirement, survivor, or disability income
Retirement income includes: (1) retirement pensions and survivor benefits from a former employer; labor union; or federal, state, or local government; and the U.S. military; (2) disability income from companies or unions; federal, state, or local government; and the U.S. military; (3) periodic receipts from annuities and insurance; and (4) regular income from IRA and Keogh plans. This does not include Social Security income.
All other income
All other income includes unemployment compensation, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) payments, alimony and child support, contributions received periodically from people not living in the household, military family allotments, and other kinds of periodic income other than earnings.
Cash Public Assistance
See "Public assistance income."
Income of Households
This includes the income of the householder and all other individuals 15 years old and over in the household, whether they are related to the householder or not. Because many households consist of only one person, average household income is usually less than average family income. Although the household income statistics cover the past 12 months, the characteristics of individuals and the composition of households refer to the time of interview. Thus, the income of the household does not include amounts received by individuals who were members of the household during all or part of the past 12 months if these individuals no longer resided in the household at the time of interview. Similarly, income amounts reported by individuals who did not reside in the household during the past 12 months but who were members of the household at the time of interview are included. However, the composition of most households was the same during the past 12 months as at the time of interview.
Income of Families
In compiling statistics on family income, the incomes of all members 15 years old and over related to the householder are summed and treated as a single amount. Although the family income statistics cover the past 12 months, the characteristics of individuals and the composition of families refer to the time of interview. Thus, the income of the family does not include amounts received by individuals who were members of the family during all or part of the past 12 months if these individuals no longer resided with the family at the time of interview. Similarly, income amounts reported by individuals who did not reside with the family during the past 12 months but who were members of the family at the time of interview are included. However, the composition of most families was the same during the past 12 months as at the time of interview.
Income of Individuals
Income for individuals is obtained by summing the eight types of income for each person 15 years old and over. The characteristics of individuals are based on the time of interview even though the amounts are for the past 12 months.
Median Income
The median divides the income distribution into two equal parts: one-half of the cases falling below the median income and one-half above the median. For households and families, the median income is based on the distribution of the total number of households and families including those with no income. The median income for individuals is based on individuals 15 years old and over with income. Median income for households, families, and individuals is computed on the basis of a standard distribution. (See the "Standard Distributions" section under "Derived Measures.") Median income is rounded to the nearest whole dollar. Median income figures are calculated using linear interpolation if the width of the interval containing the estimate is $2,500 or less. If the width of the interval containing the estimate is greater than $2,500, Pareto interpolation is used. (For more information on medians and interpolation, see "Derived Measures.")
Aggregate Income
Aggregate income is the sum of all incomes for a particular universe. Aggregate income is subject to rounding, which means that all cells in a matrix are rounded to the nearest hundred dollars. (For more information, see "Aggregate" under "Derived Measures.")
Mean Income
Mean income is the amount obtained by dividing the aggregate income of a particular statistical universe by the number of units in that universe. For example, mean household income is obtained by dividing total household income by the total number of households. (The aggregate used to calculate mean income is rounded. For more information, see "Aggregate income.")
For the various types of income, the means are based on households having those types of income. For household income and family income, the mean is based on the distribution of the total number of households and families including those with no income. The mean income for individuals is based on individuals 15 years old and over with income. Mean income is rounded to the nearest whole dollar.
Care should be exercised in using and interpreting mean income values for small subgroups of the population. Because the mean is influenced strongly by extreme values in the distribution, it is especially susceptible to the effects of sampling variability, misreporting, and processing errors. The median, which is not affected by extreme values, is, therefore, a better measure than the mean when the population base is small. The mean, nevertheless, is shown in some data products for most small subgroups because, when weighted according to the number of cases, the means can be computed for areas and groups other than those shown in Census Bureau tabulations. (For more information on means, see "Derived Measures.")
Income Quintile Upper Limits
Negative incomes are converted to zero for these measures. These measures are the quintile cutoffs, along with the 95th percentile of the distribution. (For more information on quintiles, see "Derived Measures.")
Means of Household Income by Quintiles
Means of household income by quintiles are calculated by dividing aggregate household income in each quintile by the number of households in each quintile (one-fifth of the total number of households). (For more information on aggregates, see "Aggregate Income." For more information on quintiles, see "Derived Measures.")
Shares of Household Income by Quintiles
Negative incomes are converted to zero for these measures. These measures are the aggregate household income in each quintile as a percentage of the total aggregate household income. (For more information on aggregates, see "Aggregate income." For more information on quintiles, see "Derived Measures.")
Gini Index of Income Inequality
Negative incomes are converted to zero. The Gini index of income inequality measures the dispersion of the household income distribution. (For more information on the Gini index, see "Derived Measures.")
Earnings
Earnings are defined as the sum of wage or salary income and net income from self-employment. Earnings represent the amount of income received regularly for people 16 years old and over before deductions for personal income taxes, Social Security, bond purchases, union dues, Medicare deductions, etc. An individual with earnings is one who has either wage/salary income or self-employment income, or both. Respondents who "break even" in self-employment income and therefore have zero self-employment earnings also are considered "individuals with earnings."
Median Earnings
The median divides the earnings distribution into two equal parts: one-half of the cases falling below the median and one-half above the median. Median earnings is restricted to individuals 16 years old and over with earnings and is computed on the basis of a standard distribution. (See the "Standard Distributions" section under "Derived Measures.") Median earnings figures are calculated using linear interpolation if the width of the interval containing the estimate is $2,500 or less. If the width of the interval containing the estimate is greater than $2,500, Pareto interpolation is used. (For more information on medians and interpolation, see "Derived Measures.")
Aggregate Earnings
Aggregate earnings are the sum of wage/salary and net self-employment income for a particular universe of people 16 years old and over. Aggregate earnings are rounded to the nearest hundred dollars. (For more information, see "Aggregate" under "Derived Measures.")
Mean Earnings
Mean earnings is calculated by dividing aggregate earnings by the population 16 years old and over with earnings. (The aggregate used to calculate mean earnings is rounded. For more information, see "Aggregate earnings." ) Mean earnings is rounded to the nearest whole dollar. (For more information on means, see "Derived Measures.")
Women's Earnings as a Percentage of Men's Earnings
Women's earnings as a percentage of men's earnings is defined as median earnings for females who worked full-time, year-round divided by median earnings for males who worked full-time, year-round, multiplied by 100. (For more information see "full-time, year-round workers" under "Usual hours worked per weeks worked in the past 12 months" and "Median earnings.")
Per Capita Income
Per capita income is the mean income computed for every man, woman, and child in a particular group including those living in group quarters. It is derived by dividing the aggregate income of a particular group by the total population in that group. (The aggregate used to calculate per capita income is rounded. For more information, see "Aggregate" under "Derived Measures.") Per capita income is rounded to the nearest whole dollar. (For more information on means, see "Derived Measures.")
Adjusting Income for Inflation
Income components were reported for the 12 months preceding the interview month. Monthly Consumer Price Indices (CPI) factors were used to inflation-adjust these components to a reference calendar year (January through December). For example, a household interviewed in March 2006 reports their income for March 2006 through February 2006. Their income is adjusted to the 2006 reference calendar year by multiplying their reported income by 2006 average annual CPI (January-December 2006) and then dividing by the average CPI for March 2006-February2006.
In order to inflate income amounts from previous years, the dollar values on individual records are inflated to the latest years dollar values by multiplying by a factor equal to the average annual CPI-U-RS factor for the current year, divided by the average annual CPI-U-RS factor for the earlier/earliest year.
Limitation of the Data
Since answers to income questions are frequently based on memory and not on records, many people tend to forget minor or sporadic sources of income and, therefore, underreport their income. Underreporting tends to be more pronounced for income sources that are not derived from earnings, such as public assistance, interest, dividends, and net rental income.
Extensive computer editing procedures were instituted in the data processing operation to reduce some of these reporting errors and to improve the accuracy of the income data. These procedures corrected various reporting deficiencies and improved the consistency of reported income questions associated with work experience and information on occupation and class of worker. For example, if people reported they were self employed on their own farm, not incorporated, but had reported only wage and salary earnings, the latter amount was shifted to self-employment income. Also, if any respondent reported total income only, the amount was generally assigned to one of the types of income questions according to responses to the work experience and class-of-worker questions. Another type of problem involved non-reporting of income data. Where income information was not reported, procedures were devised to impute appropriate values with either no income or positive or negative dollar amounts for the missing entries. (For more information on imputation, see "Accuracy of the Data.")
In income tabulations for households and families, the lowest income group (for example, less than $10,000) includes units that were classified as having no income in the past 12 months. Many of these were living on income "in kind," savings, or gifts, were newly created families, or were families in which the sole breadwinner had recently died or left the household. However, many of the households and families who reported no income probably had some money income that was not reported in the American Community Survey.
Users should exercise caution when comparing income and earnings estimates for individuals from the 2006, or 2006 ACS to earlier years because of the introduction of group quarters. Household and family income estimates are not affected by the inclusion of group quarters.

Comparability
The income data shown in ACS tabulations are not directly comparable with those that may be obtained from statistical summaries of income tax returns. Income, as defined for federal tax purposes, differs somewhat from the Census Bureau concept. Moreover, the coverage of income tax statistics is different because of the exemptions for people having small amounts of income and the inclusion of net capital gains in tax returns. Furthermore, members of some families file separate returns and others file joint returns; consequently, the tax reporting unit is not consistent with the census household, family, or person units. The earnings data shown in ACS tabulations are not directly comparable with earnings records of the Social Security Administration (SSA). The earnings record data for SSA excludes the earnings of some civilian government employees, some employees of nonprofit organizations, workers covered by the Railroad Retirement Act, and people not covered by the program because of insufficient earnings. Because ACS data are obtained from household questionnaires, they may differ from SSA earnings record data, which are based upon employers reports and the federal income tax returns of self-employed people.
The Commerce Departments Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) publishes annual data on aggregate and per-capita personal income received by the population for states, metropolitan areas, and selected counties. Aggregate income estimates based on the income statistics shown in ACS products usually would be less than those shown in the BEA income series for several reasons. The ACS data are obtained from a household survey, whereas the BEA income series is estimated largely on the basis of data from administrative records of business and governmental sources. Moreover, the definitions of income are different. The BEA income series includes some questions not included in the income data shown in ACS publications, such as income" in kind," income received by nonprofit institutions, the value of services of banks and other financial intermediaries rendered to people without the assessment of specific charges, and Medicare payments. On the other hand, the ACS income data include contributions for support received from people not residing in the same household if the income is received on a regular basis.
In comparing income for the most recent year with income from earlier years, users should note that an increase or decrease in money income does not necessarily represent a comparable change in real income, unless adjusted for inflation.
Question/Concept History
The 1998 ACS questionnaire deleted references to Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) because of welfare law reforms.
In 1999, the ACS questions were changed to be consistent with the questions for the Census 2000. The instructions are slightly different to reflect differences in the reference periods. The ACS asks about the past 12 months, and the questions for the decennial census ask about the previous calendar year.
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2006 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Adjusting Income for Inflation
Income components were reported for the 12 months preceding the interview month. Monthly Consumer Price Indices (CPI) factors were used to inflation-adjust these components to a reference calendar year (January through December). For example, a household interviewed in March 2006 reports their income for March 2006 through February 2006. Their income is adjusted to the 2006 reference calendar year by multiplying their reported income by 2006 average annual CPI (January-December 2006) and then dividing by the average CPI for March 2006-February2006.
In order to inflate income amounts from previous years, the dollar values on individual records are inflated to the latest years dollar values by multiplying by a factor equal to the average annual CPI-U-RS factor for the current year, divided by the average annual CPI-U-RS factor for the earlier/earliest year.
Limitation of the Data
Since answers to income questions are frequently based on memory and not on records, many people tend to forget minor or sporadic sources of income and, therefore, underreport their income. Underreporting tends to be more pronounced for income sources that are not derived from earnings, such as public assistance, interest, dividends, and net rental income.
Extensive computer editing procedures were instituted in the data processing operation to reduce some of these reporting errors and to improve the accuracy of the income data. These procedures corrected various reporting deficiencies and improved the consistency of reported income questions associated with work experience and information on occupation and class of worker. For example, if people reported they were self employed on their own farm, not incorporated, but had reported only wage and salary earnings, the latter amount was shifted to self-employment income. Also, if any respondent reported total income only, the amount was generally assigned to one of the types of income questions according to responses to the work experience and class-of-worker questions. Another type of problem involved non-reporting of income data. Where income information was not reported, procedures were devised to impute appropriate values with either no income or positive or negative dollar amounts for the missing entries. (For more information on imputation, see "Accuracy of the Data.")
In income tabulations for households and families, the lowest income group (for example, less than $10,000) includes units that were classified as having no income in the past 12 months. Many of these were living on income "in kind," savings, or gifts, were newly created families, or were families in which the sole breadwinner had recently died or left the household. However, many of the households and families who reported no income probably had some money income that was not reported in the American Community Survey.
Users should exercise caution when comparing income and earnings estimates for individuals from the 2006, or 2006 ACS to earlier years because of the introduction of group quarters. Household and family income estimates are not affected by the inclusion of group quarters.

Comparability
The income data shown in ACS tabulations are not directly comparable with those that may be obtained from statistical summaries of income tax returns. Income, as defined for federal tax purposes, differs somewhat from the Census Bureau concept. Moreover, the coverage of income tax statistics is different because of the exemptions for people having small amounts of income and the inclusion of net capital gains in tax returns. Furthermore, members of some families file separate returns and others file joint returns; consequently, the tax reporting unit is not consistent with the census household, family, or person units. The earnings data shown in ACS tabulations are not directly comparable with earnings records of the Social Security Administration (SSA). The earnings record data for SSA excludes the earnings of some civilian government employees, some employees of nonprofit organizations, workers covered by the Railroad Retirement Act, and people not covered by the program because of insufficient earnings. Because ACS data are obtained from household questionnaires, they may differ from SSA earnings record data, which are based upon employers reports and the federal income tax returns of self-employed people.
The Commerce Departments Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) publishes annual data on aggregate and per-capita personal income received by the population for states, metropolitan areas, and selected counties. Aggregate income estimates based on the income statistics shown in ACS products usually would be less than those shown in the BEA income series for several reasons. The ACS data are obtained from a household survey, whereas the BEA income series is estimated largely on the basis of data from administrative records of business and governmental sources. Moreover, the definitions of income are different. The BEA income series includes some questions not included in the income data shown in ACS publications, such as income" in kind," income received by nonprofit institutions, the value of services of banks and other financial intermediaries rendered to people without the assessment of specific charges, and Medicare payments. On the other hand, the ACS income data include contributions for support received from people not residing in the same household if the income is received on a regular basis.
In comparing income for the most recent year with income from earlier years, users should note that an increase or decrease in money income does not necessarily represent a comparable change in real income, unless adjusted for inflation.
Question/Concept History
The 1998 ACS questionnaire deleted references to Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) because of welfare law reforms.
In 1999, the ACS questions were changed to be consistent with the questions for the Census 2000. The instructions are slightly different to reflect differences in the reference periods. The ACS asks about the past 12 months, and the questions for the decennial census ask about the previous calendar year.
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2006 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Age
The data on age were derived from answers to Question 2. The age classification is based on the age of the person in complete years at the time of interview. Both age and date of birth are used in combination to calculate the most accurate age at the time of the interview. Inconsistently reported and missing values are assigned or imputed based on the values of other variables for that person, from other people in the household, or from people in other households ("hot deck" imputation). Data on age are used to determine the applicability of other questions for a particular individual and to classify other characteristics in tabulations. Age data are needed to interpret most social and economic characteristics used to plan and analyze programs and policies. Therefore, age data are tabulated by many different age groupings, such as 5-year age groups.
Median Age
The median age is the age that divides the population into two equal-size groups. Half of the population is older than the median age and half is younger. Median age is based on a standard distribution of the population by single years of age and is shown to the nearest tenth of a year. (See the sections on "Standard Distributions" and "Medians" under "Derived Measures.")
Age Dependency Ratio
The age dependency ratio is derived by dividing the combined under-18 and 65-and-over populations by the 18-to-64 population and multiplying by 100.
Old-Age Dependency Ratio
The old-age dependency ratio is derived by dividing the population 65 years and over by the 18-to-64 population and multiplying by 100.
Child Dependency Ratio
The child dependency ratio is derived by dividing the population under 18 years by the 18-to-64 population, and multiplying by 100.
Limitation of the Data
Caution should be taken when comparing population in age groups across time. The entire population continually ages into older age groups over time and babies fill in the youngest age group. Therefore, the population of a certain age is made up of a completely different group of people in 2000 and 2006. Since populations occasionally experience booms/increases and busts/decreases in births, deaths, or migration (for example, the postwar Baby Boom from 1946-1964), one should not necessarily expect that the population in an age group in Census 2000 should be similar in size or proportion to the population in the same age group in the 2006 ACS. For example, Baby Boomers were age 36 to 54 in Census 2000 while they were age 44 to 62 in the 2006 ACS. Therefore, the age group 55 to 59 would show a considerable increase in population when comparing Census 2000 data with the 2006 ACS data.
Beginning in 2006, the population in group quarters (GQ) is included in the ACS. Some types of GQ populations have age distributions that are very different from the household population. The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the age distribution. This is particularly true for areas with a substantial GQ population.
Question/Concept History
The 1996-2002 American Community Survey question asked for month, day, and year of birth before age. Since 2003, the American Community Survey question asked for age, followed by month, day, and year of birth. In 2006, an additional instruction was provided with the age and date of birth question on the American Community Survey questionnaire to report babies as age 0 when the child was less than 1 year old. The addition of this instruction occurred after 2005 National Census Test results indicated increased accuracy of age reporting for babies less than one year old.