Data Dictionary: ACS 2007 -- 2009 (3-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Universe: Occupied housing units
Variable Details
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2007-2009 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Tenure
The data for tenure were obtained from Housing Question 14 in the 2009 American Community Survey. The question was asked at occupied housing units. Occupied housing units are classified as either owner occupied or renter occupied.

Tenure provides a measurement of home ownership, which has served as an indicator of the nations economy for decades. These data are used to aid in the distribution of funds for programs such as those involving mortgage insurance, rental housing, and national defense housing. Data on tenure allows planners to evaluate the overall viability of housing markets and to assess the stability of neighborhoods. The data also serve in understanding the characteristics of owner occupied and renter occupied units to aid builders, mortgage lenders, planning officials, government agencies, etc., in the planning of housing programs and services.

Owner Occupied
A housing unit is owner occupied if the owner or co-owner lives in the unit even if it is mortgaged or not fully paid for. The owner or co-owner must live in the unit and usually is Person 1 on the questionnaire. The unit is "Owned by you or someone in this household with a mortgage or loan" if it is being purchased with a mortgage or some other debt arrangement such as a deed of trust, trust deed, contract to purchase, land contract, or purchase agreement. The unit also is considered owned with a mortgage if it is built on leased land and there is a mortgage on the unit. Mobile homes occupied by owners with installment loan balances also are included in this category.

A housing unit is "Owned by you or someone in this household free and clear (without a mortgage or loan)" if there is no mortgage or other similar debt on the house, apartment, or mobile home including units built on leased land if the unit is owned outright without a mortgage.

Renter Occupied
All occupied housing units which are not owner occupied, whether they are rented or occupied without payment of rent, are classified as renter occupied. "No rent paid" units are separately identified in the rent tabulations. Such units are generally provided free by friends or relatives or in exchange for services such as resident manager, caretaker, minister, or tenant farmer. Housing units on military bases also are classified in the "No rent paid" category. "Rented" includes units in continuing care, sometimes called life care arrangements. These arrangements usually involve a contract between one or more individuals and a health services provider guaranteeing the individual shelter, usually a house or apartment, and services, such as meals or transportation to shopping or recreation. (For more information, see "Meals Included in Rent.")

Question/Concept History
From 1996-2007 the American Community Survey questions were the same. Starting in 2008, the instruction "Mark (X) ONE box." was added following the question, and the instruction Include home equity loans. was added following the response category "Owned by you or someone in this household with a mortgage or loan?" Additional changes introduced in 2008 included revising the wording of two of the response categories from "Rented for cash rent?" to "Rented?" and "Occupied without payment of cash rent?" to "Occupied without payment of rent?"

Comparability
Data on tenure in the American Community Survey can be compared to previous ACS and Census 2000 tenure data.

Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2007-2009 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Telephone Service Available
The data on telephones were obtained from Housing Question 8g in the 2009 American Community Survey. The question was asked at occupied housing units.

The question asked whether telephone service was available in the house, apartment, or mobile home. A telephone must be in working order and service available in the house, apartment, or mobile home that allows the respondent to both make and receive calls. Households whose service has been discontinued for nonpayment or other reasons are not counted as having telephone service available.

The availability of telephone service provides information on the isolation of households. These data help assess the level of communication access amongst elderly and low-income households. The data also serve to aid in the development of emergency telephone, medical, or crime prevention services.

Question/Concept History
For the 1996-1998 American Community Survey, the question asked whether there was a telephone in the house or apartment. A telephone must be inside the house or apartment for the unit to be classified as having a telephone and units where the respondent used a telephone located inside the building but not in the respondent's living quarters were classified as having no telephone. In 1999, the words "or mobile home" were added question to be more inclusive of the structure type. In 2004, instructions that accompanied the ACS mail questionnaire advised respondents that if the household members used cell phones to answer that the house, apartment, or mobile home had telephone service. Starting in 2008, the structure of the question changed and combined telephone service availability with plumbing facilities and kitchen facilities into one question to ask, "Does this house, apartment, or mobile home have -" and provided the respondent with a "Yes" or "No" checkbox for each component needed for complete facilities. In 2008 the instruction "Include cell phones" was added.

Limitation of the Data
The Census Bureau tested the changes introduced to the 2008 version of the telephone service available 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 Facilities" on the ACS website (www.census.gov/acs).

Comparability
Caution should be used when comparing American Community Survey data on telephone service availability from the years 2008 and after with both pre-2008 ACS and Census 2000 data. Changes made to the telephone service availability question between the 2007 and 2008 ACS involving the structure of the question as well as the introduction of an instruction to include cell phones resulted in an inconsistency in the ACS data. This inconsistency in the data was most noticeable as an increase in the number of respondents answering "yes" to the question.

Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2007-2009 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Comparability
New questions were added to the 2008 ACS CATI/CAPI instrument. Respondents who received a high school diploma, GED or equivalent were also asked if they had completed any college credit. Therefore, data users may notice a decrease in the number of high school graduates relative to previous years because those people are now being captured in the "Some college credit, but less than 1 year of college credit" or "1 or more years of college credit, no degree categories." For more information see the report titled Report P.2.b: "Evaluation Report Covering Educational Attainment" on the ACS website (www.census.gov/acs).

Data about educational attainment are also collected from the decennial Census and from the Current Population Survey (CPS). ACS data is generally comparable to data from the Census. For more information about the comparability of ACS and CPS data, please see the link for the Fact Sheet and the Comparison Report from the CPS Educational Attainment page.