Data Dictionary: ACS 2006 -- 2008 (3-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Universe: Universe: Population 16 to 19 years
Variable Details
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2006-2008 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 2006-2008 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.
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2006-2008 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Age
The data on age were derived from answers to Question 4. 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 2008. 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 2008 ACS. For example, Baby Boomers were age 36 to 54 in Census 2000 while they were age 44 to 62 in the 2008 ACS. Therefore, the age group 55 to 59 would show a considerable increase in population when comparing Census 2000 data with the 2008 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 2008, 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.
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2006-2008 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
School Enrollment and Type of School
Data on school enrollment and grade or level attending were derived from answers to Question 10. People were classified as enrolled in school if they were attending a public or private school or college at any time during the 3 months prior to the time of interview. The question included instructions to "include only nursery or preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, home school, and schooling which leads to a high school diploma, or a college degree." Respondents who did not answer the enrollment question were assigned the enrollment status and type of school of a person with the same age, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino origin whose residence was in the same or nearby area.

School enrollment is only recorded if the schooling advances a person toward an elementary school certificate, a high school diploma, or a college, university, or professional school (such as law or medicine) degree. Tutoring or correspondence schools are included if credit can be obtained from a public or private school or college. People enrolled in "vocational, technical, or business school" such as post secondary vocational, trade, hospital school, and on job training were not reported as enrolled in school. Field interviewers were instructed to classify individuals who were home schooled as enrolled in private school. The guide sent out with the mail questionnaire includes instructions for how to classify home schoolers.
Enrolled in Public and Private School
Includes people who attended school in the reference period and indicated they were enrolled by marking one of the questionnaire categories for "public school, public college," or "private school, private college, home school." The instruction guide defines a public school as "any school or college controlled and supported primarily by a local, county, state, or federal government." Private schools are defined as schools supported and controlled primarily by religious organizations or other private groups. Home schools are defined as "parental-guided education outside of public or private school for grades 1-12." Respondents who marked both the "public" and "private" boxes are edited to the first entry, "public."
Comparability
Data on school enrollment also are collected and published by other federal, state, and local government agencies. Because these data are obtained from administrative records of school systems and institutions of higher learning, they are only roughly comparable to data from population censuses and surveys. Differences in definitions and concepts, subject matter covered, time references, and data collection methods contribute to the differences in estimates. At the local level, the difference between the location of the institution and the residence of the student may affect the comparability of census and administrative data because census data are collected from and based on a respondent's residence. Differences between the boundaries of school districts and census geographic units also may affect these comparisons.
Question/Concept History
Since 1999, the American Community Survey refers to "regular school or college," while the 1996-1998 American Community Survey did not restrict reporting to "regular" school, and contained an additional category for the "vocational, technical or business school."
Grade in Which Enrolled
From 1999-2007, in the American Community Survey, people reported to be enrolled in "public school, public college" or "private school, private college" were classified by grade or level according to responses to Question 10b, "What grade or level was this person attending?" Seven levels were identified: "nursery school, preschool;" "kindergarten;" elementary "grade 1 to grade 4" or "grade 5 to grade 8;" "high school grade 9 to grade 12;" "college undergraduate years (freshman to senior);" and "graduate or professional school ( for example: medical, dental, or law school )."

In 2008, the school enrollment questions had several changes. "Home school" was explicitly included in the "private school, private college" category. For question 10b the categories changed to the following "Nursery school, preschool," "Kindergarten," "Grade 1 through grade 12," "College undergraduate years (freshman to senior)," "Graduate or professional school beyond a bachelor's degree (for example: MA or PhD program, or medical or law school)." The survey question allowed a write-in for the grades enrolled from 1-12.

Limitation of the Data
Beginning in 2006, the population universe in the American Community Survey includes people living in group quarters. Data users may see slight differences in levels of school enrollment in any given geographic area due to the inclusion of this population. The extent of this difference, if any, depends on the type of group quarters present and whether the group quarters population makes up a large proportion of the total population. For example, in areas that are home to several colleges and universities, the percent of individuals 18 to 24 who were enrolled in college or graduate school would increase, as people living in college dormitories are now included in the universe.
Question/Concept History
The 1996-1998 American Community Survey used the educational attainment question to estimate level of enrollment for those reported to be enrolled in school, and had a single year write-in for the attainment of grades 1 through 11. Grade levels estimated using the attainment question were not consistent with other estimates, so a new question specifically asking grade or level of enrollment was added starting with the 1999 American Community Survey questionnaire.