Data Dictionary: ACS 2008 (1-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Table: B15004. Poverty Status In The Past 12 Months By Sex By Educational Attainment For The Population 25 Years And Over [39]
Universe: Population 25 years and over for whom poverty status is determined
Table Details
B15004. Poverty Status In The Past 12 Months By Sex By Educational Attainment For The Population 25 Years And Over
Universe: Population 25 years and over for whom poverty status is determined
Variable Label
B15004001
B15004002
B15004003
B15004004
B15004005
B15004006
B15004007
B15004008
B15004009
B15004010
B15004011
B15004012
B15004013
B15004014
B15004015
B15004016
B15004017
B15004018
B15004019
B15004020
B15004021
B15004022
B15004023
B15004024
B15004025
B15004026
B15004027
B15004028
B15004029
B15004030
B15004031
B15004032
B15004033
B15004034
B15004035
B15004036
B15004037
B15004038
B15004039
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2008 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Poverty Status in the Past 12 Months
Poverty statistics in ACS products adhere to the standards specified by the Office of Management and Budget in Statistical Policy Directive 14. The Census Bureau uses a set of dollar value thresholds that vary by family size and composition to determine who is in poverty. Further, poverty thresholds for people living alone or with nonrelatives (unrelated individuals) vary by age (under 65 years or 65 years and older). The poverty thresholds for two-person families also vary by the age of the householder. If a familys total income is less than the dollar value of the appropriate threshold, then that family and every individual in it are considered to be in poverty. Similarly, if an unrelated individual's total income is less than the appropriate threshold, then that individual is considered to be in poverty.
How the Census Bureau Determines Poverty Status
In determining the poverty status of families and unrelated individuals, the Census Bureau uses thresholds (income cutoffs) arranged in a two-dimensional matrix. The matrix consists of family size (from one person to nine or more people) cross-classified by presence and number of family members under 18 years old (from no children present to eight or more children present). Unrelated individuals and two-person families are further differentiated by age of reference person (RP) (under 65 years old and 65 years old and over).

To determine a person's poverty status, one compares the person's total family income in the last 12 months with the poverty threshold appropriate for that person's family size and composition (see example below). If the total income of that person's family is less than the threshold appropriate for that family, then the person is considered "below the poverty level,"together with every member of his or her family. If a person is not living with anyone related by birth, marriage, or adoption, then the person's own income is compared with his or her poverty threshold. The total number of people below the poverty level is the sum of people in families and the number of unrelated individuals with incomes in the last 12 months below the poverty threshold.

Since ACS is a continuous survey, people respond throughout the year. Because the income questions specify a period covering the last 12 months, the appropriate poverty thresholds are determined by multiplying the base-year poverty thresholds (1982) by the average of the monthly inflation factors for the 12 months preceding the data collection. See the table below titled "Poverty Thresholds in 1982," by "Size of Family and Number of Related Children Under 18 Years (Dollars)," for appropriate base thresholds. See the table "The 2008 Poverty Factors" for the appropriate adjustment based on interview month.

For example, consider a family of three with one child under 18 years of age, interviewed in July 2008 and reporting a total family income of $14,000 for the last 12 months (July 2007 to June 2008). The base year (1982) threshold for such a family is $7,765, while the average of the 12 inflation factors is 2.19359. Multiplying $7,765 by 2.19359 determines the appropriate poverty threshold for this family type, which is $17,033. Comparing the familys income of $14,000 with the poverty threshold shows that the family and all people in the family are considered to have been in poverty. The only difference for determining poverty status for unrelated individuals is that the person's individual total income is compared with the threshold rather than the familys income.

For example, consider a family of three with one child under 18 years of age, interviewed in July 2008 and reporting a total family income of $14,000 for the last 12 months (July 2007 to June 2008). The base year (1982) threshold for such a family is $7,765, while the average of the 12 inflation factors is 2.19359. Multiplying $7,765 by 2.19359 determines the appropriate poverty threshold for this family type, which is $17,033. Comparing the familys income of $14,000 with the poverty threshold shows that the family and all people in the family are considered to have been in poverty. The only difference for determining poverty status for unrelated individuals is that the person's individual total income is compared with the threshold rather than the familys income.
The 2008 Poverty Factors:
Interview Month Poverty Factors
January 2.14841
February 2.15589
March 2.16297
April 2.17003
May 2.17705
June 2.18455
July 2.19359
August 2.20366
September 2.21330
October 2.22219
November 2.22879
December 2.23073


Poverty Thresholds in 1982, by Size of Family and Number of Related Children Under 18 Years Old (Dollars)
Size of family unit Related children under 18 years
None One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight or more
One person (unrelated individual)                  
Under 65 years 5,019                
65 years and over 4,626                
Two persons                  
Householder under 65 years 6,459 6,649              
Householder 65 years and over 5,831 6,624              
Three persons 7,546 7,765 7,772            
Four persons 9,950 10,112 9,783 9,817          
Five persons 11,999 12,173 11,801 11,512 11,336        
Six persons 13,801 13,855 13,570 13,296 12,890 12,649      
Seven persons 15,879 15,979 15,637 15,399 14,955 14,437 13,869    
Eight persons or more 17,760 17,917 17,594 17,312 16,911 16,403 15,872 15,738  
Nine persons or more 21,364 21,468 21,183 20,943 20,549 20,008 19,517 19,397 18,649


Individuals for Whom Poverty Status is Determined
Poverty status was determined for all people except institutionalized people, people in military group quarters, people in college dormitories, and unrelated individuals under 15 years old. These groups were excluded from the numerator and denominator when calculating poverty rates.
Specified Poverty Levels
For various reasons, the official poverty definition does not satisfy all the needs of data users. Therefore, some of the data reflect the number of people below different percentages of the poverty thresholds. These specified poverty levels are obtained by multiplying the official thresholds by the appropriate factor. Using the previous example cited (a family of three with one related child under 18 years responding in July 2008), the dollar value of 125 percent of the poverty threshold was $ 21,291 ($ 17,033x 1.25).
Income Deficit
Income deficit represents the difference between the total income in the last 12 months of families and unrelated individuals below the poverty level and their respective poverty thresholds. In computing the income deficit, families reporting a net income loss are assigned zero dollars and for such cases the deficit is equal to the poverty threshold. This measure provides an estimate of the amount, which would be required to raise the incomes of all poor families and unrelated individuals to their respective poverty thresholds. The income deficit is thus a measure of the degree of the impoverishment of a family or unrelated individual. However, please use caution when comparing the average deficits of families with different characteristics. Apparent differences in average income deficits may, to some extent, be a function of differences in family size.
Aggregate Income Deficit
Aggregate income deficit refers only to those families or unrelated individuals who are classified as below the poverty level. It is defined as the group (e.g., type of family) sum total of differences between the appropriate threshold and total family income or total personal income. Aggregate income deficit 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 Deficit
Mean income deficit represents the amount obtained by dividing the total income deficit for a group below the poverty level by the number of families (or unrelated individuals) in that group. (The aggregate used to calculate mean income deficit is rounded. For more information, see "Aggregate Income Deficit.") As mentioned above, please use caution when comparing mean income deficits of families with different characteristics, as apparent differences may, to some extent, be a function of differences in family size. Mean income deficit is rounded to the nearest whole dollar. (For more information on means, see "Derived Measures.")
Question/Concept History
Derivation of the Current Poverty Measure
When the original poverty definition was developed in 1964 by the Social Security Administration (SSA), it focused on family food consumption. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) used its data about the nutritional needs of children and adults to construct food plans for families. Within each food plan, dollar amounts varied according to the total number of people in the family and the family's composition, that is, the number of children within each family. The cheapest of these plans, the Economy Food Plan, was designed to address the dietary needs of families on an austere budget.

Since the USDAs 1955 Food Consumption Survey showed that families of three or more people across all income levels spent roughly one-third of their income on food, the SSA multiplied the cost of the Economy Food Plan by three to obtain dollar figures for total family income. These dollar figures, with some adjustments, later became the official poverty thresholds. Since the Economy Food Plan budgets varied by family size and composition, so too did the poverty thresholds. For two-person families, the thresholds were adjusted by slightly higher factors because those households had higher fixed costs. Thresholds for unrelated individuals were calculated as a fixed proportion of the corresponding thresholds for two-person families. The poverty thresholds are revised annually to allow for changes in the cost of living as reflected in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). The poverty thresholds are the same for all parts of the country; they are not adjusted for regional, state, or local variations in the cost of living .
Comparability
Because of differences in survey methodology (questionnaire design, method of data collection, sample size, etc.), the poverty rate estimates obtained from American Community Survey data may differ from those reported in the Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, and those reported in Census 2000. Please refer to http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/newguidance.html for more details.
Poverty Status of Households in the Past 12 Months
Since poverty is defined at the family level and not the household level, the poverty status of the household is determined by the poverty status of the householder. Households are classified as poor when the total income of the householder's family in the last 12 months is below the appropriate poverty threshold. (For nonfamily householders, their own income is compared with the appropriate threshold.) The income of people living in the household who are unrelated to the householder is not considered when determining the poverty status of a household, nor does their presence affect the family size in determining the appropriate threshold. The poverty thresholds vary depending upon three criteria: size of family, number of children, and, for one- and two- person families, age of the householder.
Limitation of the Data
Beginning in 2006, the population in group quarters (GQ) is included in the ACS. The part of the group quarters population in the poverty universe (for example, people living in group homes or those living in agriculture workers dormitories) is many times more likely to be in poverty than people living in households. Direct comparisons of the data would likely result in erroneous conclusions about changes in the poverty status of all people in the poverty universe.
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2008 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Sex
The data on sex were derived from answers to Question 3. 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 persons 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 2008 version of the sex question in the 2007 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 2007 to 2008.
Question/Concept History
Beginning in 2008, the layout of the sex question response categories was changed to a horizontal side-by-side layout from a vertically stacked layout on the mail paper ACS questionnaire.
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2008 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Educational Attainment
Data on educational attainment were derived from answers to Question 11, which was asked of all respondents. Educational attainment data are tabulated for people 18 years old and over. Respondents are classified according to the highest degree or the highest level of school completed. The question included instructions for persons currently enrolled in school to report the level of the previous grade attended or the highest degree received.

The educational attainment question included a response category that allowed people to report completing the 12th grade without receiving a high school diploma. Respondents who received a regular high school diploma and did not attend college were instructed to report "Regular high school diploma." Respondents who received the equivalent of a high school diploma (for example, passed the test of General Educational Development (G.E.D.)), and did not attend college, were instructed to report "GED or alternative credential." "Some college" is in two categories: "Some college credit, but less than 1 year of college credit" and "1 or more years of college credit, no degree." The category "Associate's degree" included people whose highest degree is an associate's degree, which generally requires 2 years of college level work and is either in an occupational program that prepares them for a specific occupation, or an academic program primarily in the arts and sciences. The course work may or may not be transferable to a bachelor's degree. Master's degrees include the traditional MA and MS degrees and field-specific degrees, such as MSW, MEd, MBA, MLS, and MEng. Instructions included in the respondent instruction guide for mailout/mailback respondents only provided the following examples of professional school degrees: Medicine, dentistry, chiropractic, optometry, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, podiatry, veterinary medicine, law, and theology. The order in which degrees were listed suggested that doctorate degrees were "higher" than professional school degrees, which were "higher" than master's degrees. If more than one box was filled, the response was edited to the highest level or degree reported.
The instructions further specified that schooling completed in foreign or ungraded school systems should be reported as the equivalent level of schooling in the regular American system. The instructions specified that certificates or diplomas for training in specific trades or from vocational, technical or business schools were not to be reported. Honorary degrees awarded for a respondent's accomplishments were not to be reported.
High School Graduate or Higher
This category includes people whose highest degree was a high school diploma or its equivalent, people who attended college but did not receive a degree, and people who received an associates, bachelors, masters, or professional or doctorate degree. People who reported completing the 12th grade but not receiving a diploma are not included.
Not Enrolled, Not High School Graduate
This category includes people of compulsory school attendance age or above who were not enrolled in school and were not high school graduates. These people may be referred to as "high school dropouts." There is no restriction on when they "dropped out" of school; therefore, they may have dropped out before high school and never attended high school.
Limitation of the Data
Beginning in 2006, the population in group quarters (GQ) is included in the ACS. Some types of GQ populations may have educational attainment distributions that are different from the household population. The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the educational attainment distribution. This is particularly true for areas with a substantial GQ population.
The Census Bureau tested the changes introduced to the 2008 version of the educational attainment question in the 2006 ACS Content Test. 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 2007 to 2008, see "2006 ACS Content Test Evaluation Report Covering Educational Attainment" (http://www.census.gov/acs/www/AdvMeth/content_test/P2b_Educational_Attainment.pdf).
Question/Concept History
Since 1999, the American Community Survey question does not have the response category for "Vocational, technical, or business school degree" that the 1996-1998 American Community Surveys question had. Starting in 1999, the American Community Survey question had two categories for some college: "Some college credit, but less than 1 year" and "1 or more years of college, no degree." The 1996-1998 American Community Survey question had one category: "Some college but no degree." In the 1996-1998 American Community Survey, the educational attainment question was used to estimate level of enrollment. Since 1999, a question regarding grade of enrollment was included.

The 1999-2007 American Community Survey attainment question grouped grade categories below high school into the following three categories: "Nursery school to 4th grade," "5th grade or 6th grade," and "7th grade or 8th grade." The 1996-1998 American Community Survey question allowed a write-in for highest grade completed for grades 1-11 in addition to "Nursery or preschool" and "Kindergarten."

Beginning in 2008, the American Community Survey attainment question was changed to the following categories for levels up to "Grade 12, no diploma:" "Nursery school," "Kindergarten," "Grade 1 through grade 11," and "12th grade, no diploma." The survey question allowed a write-in for the highest grade completed for grades 1-11. In addition, the category that was previously "High school graduate (including GED)" was broken into two categories: "Regular high school diploma" and "GED or alternative credential." The term "credit" for the two some college categories was emphasized. The phrase "beyond a bachelor's degree" was added to the professional degree category.