Data Dictionary: ACS 2007 -- 2009 (3-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Universe: White alone, not Hispanic or Latino population 16 years and over
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2007-2009 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
The data on sex were derived from answers to Question 3. Individuals were asked to mark either "male" or "female" to indicate their biological sex. For most cases in which sex was invalid, the appropriate entry was determined from other information provided for that person, such as the person's given (i.e., first) name and household relationship. Otherwise, sex was allocated from a hot deck.

Sex is asked for all persons in a household or group quarters. On the mailout/mailback paper questionnaire for households, sex is asked for all persons listed on the form. This form accommodates asking sex for up to 12 people listed as living or residing in the household for at least 2 months. If a respondent indicates that more people are listed as part of the total persons living in the household than the form can accommodate, or if any person included on the form is missing sex, 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 sex for any person in the household missing sex information. In Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI) and Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) instruments sex is asked for all persons. In 2006, the ACS began collecting data in group quarters (GQs). This included asking sex for persons living in a group quarters. For additional data collection methodology, please see

Data on sex are used to determine the applicability of other questions for a particular individual and to classify other characteristics in tabulations. The sex data collected on the forms are aggregated and provide the number of males and females in the population. These data are needed to interpret most social and economic characteristics used to plan and analyze programs and policies. Data about sex are critical because so many federal programs must differentiate between males and females. The U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services are required by statute to use these data to fund, implement, and evaluate various social and welfare programs, such as the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) or the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Laws to promote equal employment opportunity for women also require census data on sex. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs must use census data to develop its state projections of veteran's facilities and benefits. For more information on the use of sex data in Federal programs, please see

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.

Question/Concept History
Sex has been asked of all persons living in a household since the 1996 ACS Test phase. When group quarters were included in the survey universe in 2006, sex was asked of all person in group quarters as well. 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.

Limitation of the data
Beginning in 2006, the population in group quarters (GQ) was 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 a given geographic area. 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 ( 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.

Sex is generally comparable across different data sources and data years. However, data users should still be aware of methodological differences that may exist between different data sources if they are comparing American Community Survey sex data to other 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. 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 sex at the nation, state and county levels of geography as part of the ACS weighting procedure, variation may exist in the sex 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

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 the official estimates of the population for the nation, states, counties, cities and towns and estimates of housing units for states and counties.

Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2007-2009 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
Work Experience
The data on work experience were derived from answers to Questions 38, 39, and 40. 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. To comply with provisions of the Civil Rights Act, the U.S. Department of Justice uses these data to determine the availability of individuals for work. Government agencies, in considering the programmatic and policy aspects of providing federal assistance to areas, have emphasized the requirements for reliable data to determine the employment resources available. Data about the number of weeks and hours worked last year are essential because these data allow the characterization of workers by full-time/part-time and full-year/part-year status. Data about working last year are also necessary for collecting accurate income data by defining the universe of persons who should have earnings as part of their total income.

Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2007-2009 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. It includes people who indicate their race as "White" or report entries such as Irish, German, Italian, Lebanese, Near Easterner, Arab, or Polish.

Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2007-2009 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
Hispanic or Latino Origin
The data on the Hispanic or Latino population were derived from answers to a question that was asked of all people. The terms "Hispanic", "Latino," and "Spanish" are used interchangeably. Some respondents identify with all three terms while others may identify with only one of these three specific terms. Hispanics or Latinos who identify with the terms "Hispanic", "Latino," or "Spanish" are those who classify themselves in one of the specific "Hispanic", "Latino", or "Spanish" categories listed on the questionnaire ("Mexican," "Puerto Rican," or "Cuban") as well as those who indicate that they are another "Hispanic", "Latino," or "Spanish" origin. People who do not identify with one of the specific origins listed on the questionnaire but indicate that they are another "Hispanic", "Latino," or "Spanish" origin are those whose origins are from Spain, the Spanish-speaking countries of Central or South America, or the Dominican Republic. Up to two write-in responses to the "another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin" category are coded.

Origin can be viewed as the heritage, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person's parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States. People who identify their origin as "Hispanic", "Latino," or "Spanish" may be of any race.
Hispanic origin is used in numerous programs and is vital in making policy decisions. These data are needed to determine compliance with provisions of antidiscrimination in employment and minority recruitment legislation. Under the Voting Rights Act, data about Hispanic origin are essential to ensure enforcement of bilingual election rules. Hispanic origin classifications used by the Census Bureau and other federal agencies meet the requirements of standards issued by the Office of Management and Budget in 1997 (Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity). These standards set forth guidance for statistical collection and reporting on race and ethnicity used by all federal agencies.

Some tabulations are shown by the origin of the householder. In all cases where the origin of households, families, or occupied housing units is classified as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish, the origin of the householder is used. (For more information, see the discussion of householder under "Household Type and Relationship.")

Coding of Hispanic Origin Write-in Responses
There were two types of coding operations: (1) automated coding where a write-in response was automatically coded if it matched a write-in response already contained in a database known as the "master file," and (2) expert coding, which took place when a write-in response did not match an entry already on the master file, and was sent to expert coders familiar with the subject matter. During the coding process, subject-matter specialists reviewed and coded written entries from the "Yes, another Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin" write-in response category on the Hispanic origin question.

Editing of Hispanic Origin Responses
If an individual did not provide a Hispanic origin response, their origin was allocated using specific rules of precedence of household relationship. For example, if origin was missing for a natural-born child in the household, then either the origin of the householder, another natural-born child, or spouse of the householder was allocated. If Hispanic origin was not reported for anyone in the household and origin could not be obtained from a response to the race question, then the Hispanic origin of a householder in a previously processed household with the same race was allocated. Surnames (Spanish and Non-Spanish) were used to assist in allocating an origin or race.

Question/Concept History
Beginning in 1996, the American Community Survey question was worded "Is this person Spanish/Hispanic/Latino?" In 2008, the question wording changed to Is this person of "Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin?" From 1999 to 2007, the Hispanic origin question provided an instruction, "Mark (X) the No box" if not Spanish/Hispanic/Latino. The 2008 question, as well as the 1996 to 1998 questions, did not have this instruction. In addition, in 2008, the "Yes, another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish" category provided examples of six Hispanic origin groups (Argentinean, Colombian, Dominican, Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, Spaniard, and so on).

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 Hispanic or Latino origin distributions that are different from the household population. The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the Hispanic or Latino origin distribution. This is particularly true for areas with a substantial GQ population.

The ACS question on Hispanic origin was revised in 2008 to make it consistent with the Census 2010 Hispanic origin question. The reporting of specific Hispanic groups (e.g., Colombian, Dominican, Spaniard, etc.) increased at the national level. The change in estimates for 2008 may be due to demographic changes, as well as factors including questionnaire changes, differences in ACS population controls, and methodological differences in the population estimates. Caution should be used when comparing 2008 estimates to estimates from previous years. The 2008 Hispanic origin question is different from the Census 2000 question on Hispanic origin, therefore comparisons should be made with caution. More information about the changes in the estimates is available at See the 2009 Code List for Hispanic Origin Code List.