Data Dictionary: ACS 2007 -- 2009 (3-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Universe: Population 5 years and over for whom poverty status is determined
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2007-2009 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 familytotal 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 individuals 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 in "Appendix A" 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 2009 Poverty Factors" in "Appendix A" 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 2009 and reporting a total family income of $14,000 for the last 12 months (July 2008 to June 2009). The base year (1982) threshold for such a family is $7,765, while the average of the 12 inflation factors is 2.22421. Multiplying $7,765 by 2.22421 determines the appropriate poverty threshold for this family type, which is $17,271. Comparing the familyincome 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 family's income.

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 2009), the dollar value of 125 percent of the poverty threshold was $ 21,589 ($ 17,271x 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.

Language Spoken at Home and Ability to Speak English
Language Spoken at Home by the Respondent
Data on language spoken at home were derived from answers to the 2008 American Community Survey Questions 14a and 14b. These questions were asked only of persons 5 years of age and older. Instructions mailed with the American Community Survey questionnaire instructed respondents to mark "Yes" on Question 14a if they sometimes or always spoke a language other than English at home, and "No" if a language was spoken only at school - or if speaking was limited to a few expressions or slang. For Question 14b, respondents printed the name of the non-English language they spoke at home. If the person spoke more than one non-English language, they reported the language spoken most often. If the language spoken most frequently could not be determined, the respondent reported the language learned first.

Questions 14a and 14b referred to languages spoken at home in an effort to measure the current use of languages other than English. This category excluded respondents who spoke a language other than English exclusively outside of the home.

An automated computer system coded write-in responses to Question 14b into more than 380 detailed language categories. This automated procedure compared write-in responses with a master computer code list - which contained approximately 55,000 previously coded language names and variants - and then assigned a detailed language category to each write-in response. The computerized matching assured that identical alphabetic entries received the same code. Clerical coding categorized any write-in responses that did not match the computer dictionary. When multiple languages other than English were specified, only the first was coded.

The write-in responses represented the names people used for languages they spoke. They may not have matched the names or categories used by professional linguists. The categories used were sometimes geographic and sometimes linguistic. The table in Appendix A provides an illustration of the content of the classification schemes used to present language data.

Household Language
In households where one or more people spoke a language other than English, the household language assigned to all household members was the non-English language spoken by the first person with a non-English language. This assignment scheme ranked household members in the following order: householder, spouse, parent, sibling, child, grandchild, other relative, stepchild, unmarried partner, housemate or roommate, and other nonrelatives. Therefore, a person who spoke only English may have had a non-English household language assigned during tabulations by household language.

Government agencies use information on language spoken at home for their programs that serve the needs of the foreign-born and specifically those who have difficulty with English. Under the Voting Rights Act, language is needed to meet statutory requirements for making voting materials available in minority languages. The Census Bureau is directed, using data about language spoken at home and the ability to speak English, to identify minority groups that speak a language other than English and to assess their English-speaking ability. The U.S. Department of Education uses these data to prepare a report to Congress on the social and economic status of children served by different local school districts.

Government agencies use information on language spoken at home for their programs that serve the needs of the foreign-born and specifically those who have difficulty with English. Under the Voting Rights Act, language is needed to meet statutory requirements for making voting materials available in minority languages. The Census Bureau is directed, using data about language spoken at home and the ability to speak English, to identify minority groups that speak a language other than English and to assess their English-speaking ability. The U.S. Department of Education uses these data to prepare a report to Congress on the social and economic status of children served by different local school districts. State and local agencies concerned with aging develop health care and other services tailored to the language and cultural diversity of the elderly under the Older Americans Act.

Question/Concept History
The Language Spoken Questions have changed only once since ACS began. Examples of languages were listed immediately followed the question "What is this language?" in the 1996-1998 questionnaire. Starting in 1999, the list of languages was moved to below the write-in box.

Limitation of the Data
The language question is about current use of a non-English language, not about ability to speak another language or the use of such a language in the past. People who speak a language other than English outside of the home are not reported as speaking a language other than English. Similarly, people whose mother tongue is a non-English language but who do not currently use the language at home do not report the language. Some people who speak a language other than English at home may have first learned that language in school. These people are expected to indicate speaking English "Very well."

Comparability
All years of ACS language data are comparable to each other. They are also comparable to Census data from 1980, 1990 and 2000. See the 2009 Code List for Language Code List.

Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2007-2009 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Asian
A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam. It includes "Asian Indian," "Chinese," "Filipino," "Korean," "Japanese," "Vietnamese," and "Other Asian."

Asian Indian
Includes people who indicate their race as "Asian Indian" or identified themselves as Bengalese, Bharat, Dravidian, East Indian, or Goanese.

Chinese
Includes people who indicate their race as "Chinese" or who identify themselves as Cantonese, or Chinese American. In some tabulations, written entries of Taiwanese are included with Chinese while in others they are shown separately.

Filipino
Includes people who indicate their race as "Filipino" or who report entries such as Philipino, Philipine, or Filipino American.

Japanese
Includes people who indicate their race as "Japanese" or who report entries such as Nipponese or Japanese American.

Korean
Includes people who indicate their race as "Korean" or who provide a response of Korean American.

Vietnamese
Includes people who indicate their race as "Vietnamese" or who provide a response of Vietnamese American.

Cambodian
Includes people who provide a response such as "Cambodian" or Cambodia.

Includes people who provide a response such as Hmong, Laohmong, or Mong.

Laotian
Includes people who provide a response such as Laotian, Laos, or Lao.

Includes people who provide a response such as Thai, Thailand, or Siamese.

Other Asian
Includes people who provide a write-in response of an Asian group, such as Bangladeshi, Bhutanese, Burmese, Indochinese, Indonesian, Iwo Jiman, Madagascar, Malaysian, Maldivian, Nepalese, Okinawan, Pakistani, Singaporean, Sri Lankan, or Other Asian, not specified.