Data Dictionary: ACS 2009 (1-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Table: B09010. Receipt Of Supplemental Security Income (Ssi), Cash Public Assistance Income, Or Food Stamps/Snap In The Past 12 Months By Household Type For Children Under 18 Years In Households [13]
Universe: Population under 18 years in households
Table Details
B09010. Receipt Of Supplemental Security Income (Ssi), Cash Public Assistance Income, Or Food Stamps/Snap In The Past 12 Months By Household Type For Children Under 18 Years In Households
Universe: Population under 18 years in households
Relevant Documentation:
Food Stamp/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Benefits (SNAP)
The data on Food Stamp benefits were obtained from Housing Question 12 in the 2009 American Community Survey. The Food Stamp Act of 1977 defines this federally-funded program as one intended to "permit low-income households to obtain a more nutritious diet" (from Title XIII of Public Law 95-113, The Food Stamp Act of 1977, declaration of policy). Food purchasing power is increased by providing eligible households with coupons or cards that can be used to purchase food. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers the Food Stamp Program through state and local welfare offices. The Food Stamp Program is the major national income support program to which all low-income and low-resource households, regardless of household characteristics, are eligible.

On October 1, 2008, the Federal Food Stamp program was renamed SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Respondents were asked if one or more of the current members received food stamps or a food stamp benefit card during the past 12 months. Respondents were also asked to include benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in order to incorporate the program name change.

Question/Concept History
The 1996-1998 American Community Survey asked for a 12-month amount for the value of the food stamps following the Yes response category. For the 1999-2002 ACS, the words "Food Stamps" were capitalized in the question following the Yes response category, and the instruction "Past 12 months' value - Dollars" was added. Since 2003, the words "received during the past 12 months" were added to the question following the Yes response category. Beginning in 2008, the value of food stamps received was no longer collected; the wording of the question was changed from "At anytime during the past 12 months" to "In the past 12 months," and the term "food stamp benefit card" was added.

Adding the text "food stamps benefit card" to the question text and removing the dollar amount portion of the question resulted in a statistically significant increase in the recipiency rate for food stamps because of a decrease in item nonresponse rate.

Limitation of the Data
Beginning in 2006, the population in group quarters (GQ) is included in the ACS. Many types of GQ populations have food stamp distributions that are very different from the household population. The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the food stamp 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 Food Stamp benefits 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 Food Stamps" on the ACS website (www.census.gov/acs).

Comparability
The Food Stamp/SNAP question is not asked in Census 2000. Because of the wording change on the 2008 ACS questionnaire, you cannot compare data before and after 2008.

Household Type and Relationship
The data on relationship to householder were derived from answers to Question 2, relationship to the householder, which was asked of all people in housing units. The question on relationship is essential for classifying the population info families and other groups. Information about changes in the composition of the American family, from the number of people living alone to the number of children living with only one parent, is essential for planning and carrying out a number of federal programs, such as families in poverty.

The responses to this question were used to determine the relationships of all persons to the householder, as well as household type (married couple family, nonfamily, etc.). From responses to this question, we were able to determine numbers of related children, own children, unmarried partner households, and multigenerational households. We calculated average household and family size. When relationship was not reported, it was imputed using the age difference between the householder and the person, sex, and marital status.

Household
A household includes all the people who occupy a housing unit. (People not living in households are classified as living in group quarters.) A housing unit is a house, an apartment, a mobile home, a group of rooms, or a single room that is occupied (or if vacant, is intended for occupancy) as separate living quarters. Separate living quarters are those in which the occupants live separately from any other people in the building and which have direct access from the outside of the building or through a common hall. The occupants may be a single family, one person living alone, two or more families living together, or any other group of related or unrelated people who share living arrangements.

Average Household Size
A measure obtained by dividing the number of people in households by the number of households. In cases where people in households are cross-classified by race or Hispanic origin, people in the household are classified by the race or Hispanic origin of the householder rather than the race or Hispanic origin of each individual. Average household size is rounded to the nearest hundredth.

Child
Includes a son or daughter by birth, a stepchild, or adopted child of the householder, regardless of the child's age or marital status. The category excludes sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, and foster children.

  • Biological son or daughter - The son or daughter of the householder by birth.
  • Adopted son or daughter - The son or daughter of the householder by legal adoption. If a stepson or stepdaughter has been legally adopted by the householder, the child is then classified as an adopted child.
  • Stepson or stepdaughter - The son or daughter of the householder through marriage but not by birth, excluding sons-in-law and daughters-in-law. If a stepson or stepdaughter of the householder has been legally adopted by the householder, the child is then classified as an adopted child.


Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2009 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. Respondents are asked to give an age in whole, completed years as of interview date as well as the month, day and year of birth. People are not to round an age up if the person is close to having a birthday and to estimate an age if the exact age is not known. An additional instruction on babies also asks respondents to print "0" for babies less than one year old. 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).

Age is asked for all person's in a household or group quarters. On the mailout/mailback paper questionnaire for households, both age and date of birth are asked for person's listed as person numbers 1-5 on the form. Only age (in years) is initially asked for person's listed as 6-12 on the mailout/mailback paper questionnaire. If a respondent indicates that there are more than 5 people living in the household, then the household is eligible for Failed Edit Follow-up (FEFU). During FEFU operations, telephone center staffers call respondents to obtain missing data. This includes asking date of birth for any person in the household missing date of birth information. In Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI) and Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) instruments both age and date of birth is asked for all person's. In 2006, the ACS began collecting data in group quarters (GQs). This included asking both age and date of birth for person's living in a group quarters. For additional data collection methodology, please see www.census.gov/acs.

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. Age is central for any number of federal programs that target funds or services to children, working-age adults, women of childbearing age, or the older population. The U.S. Department of Education uses census age data in its formula for allotment to states. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs uses age to develop its mandated state projections on the need for hospitals, nursing homes, cemeteries, domiciliary services, and other benefits for veterans. For more information on the use of age data in Federal programs, please see www.census.gov/acs.

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 years and 65 years 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.

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.

Limitation of the Data
Beginning in 2006, the population living in group quarters (GQ) was included in the American Community Survey population universe. Some types of group quarters have populations with age distributions that are very different from that of the household population. The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the age distribution for a given geographic area. This is particularly true for areas with a substantial GQ population. For example, in areas with large colleges and universities, the percent of individuals 18-24 would increase due to the inclusion of GQs in the American Community Survey universe.

Comparability
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 one time period than in another (e.g. one age group in 2000 versus same age group in 2009). 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 one year should be similar in size or proportion to the population in the same age group in a different period in time. For example, Baby Boomers were age 36 to 54 in Census 2000 while they were age 45 to 63 in 2009 ACS. The age structure and distribution would therefore shift in those age groups to reflect the change in people occupying those age-specific groups over time.

Data users should also be aware of methodology differences that may exist between different data sources if they are comparing American Community Survey age data to data sources, such as Population Estimates or Decennial Census data. For example, the American Community Survey data are that of a respondent-based survey and subject to various quality measures, such as sampling and nonsampling error, response rates and item allocation error. This differs in design and methodology from other data sources, such as Population Estimates, which is not a survey and involves computational methodology to derive intercensal estimates of the population. While ACS estimates are controlled to Population Estimates for age at the nation, state and county levels of geography as part of the ACS weighting procedure, variation may exist in the age structure of a population at lower levels of geography when comparing different time periods or comparing across time due to the absence of controls below the county geography level. For more information on American Community Survey data accuracy and weighting procedures, please see www.census.gov/acs.

It should also be noted that although the American Community Survey (ACS) produces population, demographic and housing unit estimates, it is the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program that produces and disseminates theofficial estimates of the population for the nation, states, counties, cities and towns and estimates of housing units for states and counties. (Please refer to: factfinder.census.gov/home/en/official_estimates_2008.html)