Data Dictionary: ACS 2007 -- 2009 (3-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Table: C12002. Sex By Marital Status By Age For The Population 15 Years And Over [73]
Universe: Population 15 years and over
Table Details
C12002. Sex By Marital Status By Age For The Population 15 Years And Over
Universe: Population 15 years and over
Variable Label
C12002001
C12002002
C12002003
C12002004
C12002005
C12002006
C12002007
C12002008
C12002009
C12002010
C12002011
C12002012
C12002013
C12002014
C12002015
C12002016
C12002017
C12002018
C12002019
C12002020
C12002021
C12002022
C12002023
C12002024
C12002025
C12002026
C12002027
C12002028
C12002029
C12002030
C12002031
C12002032
C12002033
C12002034
C12002035
C12002036
C12002037
C12002038
C12002039
C12002040
C12002041
C12002042
C12002043
C12002044
C12002045
C12002046
C12002047
C12002048
C12002049
C12002050
C12002051
C12002052
C12002053
C12002054
C12002055
C12002056
C12002057
C12002058
C12002059
C12002060
C12002061
C12002062
C12002063
C12002064
C12002065
C12002066
C12002067
C12002068
C12002069
C12002070
C12002071
C12002072
C12002073
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2007-2009 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 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 www.census.gov/acs.

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 www.census.gov/acs.

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 (www.census.gov/acs). 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.

Comparability
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 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 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.
 
Marital Status/Marital History
The data on marital status and marital history were derived from answers to Questions 20 through 23. The marital status question is asked to determine the status of the person at the time of interview. Many government programs need accurate information on marital status, such as the number of married women in the labor force, elderly widowed individuals, or young single people who may establish homes of their own. The marital history data enables multiple agencies to more accurately measure the effects of federal and state policies and programs that focus on the well-being of families. Marital history data can provide estimates of marriage and divorce rates and duration, as well as flows into and out of marriage. This information is critical for more refined analyses of eligibility for program services and benefits, and of changes resulting from federal policies and programs. Before 2008, the marital status question was asked of all people. Beginning in 2008, the question on marital status was asked only for people 15 years old and over. People 15 and over were asked whether they were "now married," "widowed," "divorced," "separated," or "never married." People in common-law marriages were allowed to report the marital status they considered the most appropriate. When marital status was not reported, it was imputed according to the person's relationship to the householder, sex, and age. Differences in the number of married males and females occur because there is no step in the weighting process to equalize the weighted estimates of husbands and wives.

Never Married
Includes all people who have never been married, including people whose only marriage(s) was annulled.

Ever Married
Includes people ever married at the time of interview (including those "now married," "separated," "widowed," or "divorced").

Now Married, Except Separated
Includes people whose current marriage has not ended through widowhood, divorce, or separation (regardless of previous marital history). The category may also include couples who live together or people in common-law marriages if they consider this category the most appropriate. In certain tabulations, currently married people are further classified as "spouse present" or "spouse absent." For federal definitions, "now married" does not include same-sex married people even if the marriage was performed in a state issuing marriage certificates for same-sex couples.

Separated
Includes people legally separated or otherwise absent from their spouse because of marital discord. Those without a final divorce decree are classified as "separated." This category also includes people who have been deserted or who have parted because they no longer want to live together but who have not obtained a divorce.

Widowed
Includes widows and widowers who have not remarried.

Divorced
Includes people who are legally divorced and who have not remarried. Those without a final divorce decree are classified as "separated." In selected tabulations, data for married and separated people are reorganized and combined with information on the presence of the spouse in the same household.

Now Married
All people whose current marriage has not ended by widowhood or divorce. This category includes people defined above as "separated."

  • Spouse Present - Married people whose wife or husband was reported as a member of the same household, including those whose spouses may have been temporarily absent for such reasons as travel or hospitalization.
  • Spouse Absent - Married people whose wife or husband was not reported as a member of the same household or people reporting they were married and living in a group quarters facility.
  • Separated - Defined above.
  • Spouse Absent, Other - Married people whose wife or husband was not reported as a member of the same household, excluding separated. Included is any person whose spouse was employed and living away from home or in an institution or serving away from home in the Armed Forces.
Differences between the number of married males and the number of married females occur because: some husbands and wives have their usual residence in different areas; and husbands and wives do not have the same weights. By definition, the numbers would be the same.

Median Age at First Marriage
The median age at first marriage is calculated indirectly by estimating the proportion of young people who will marry during their lifetime, calculating one-half of this proportion, and determining the age (at the time of the survey) of people at this half-way mark by osculatory interpolation. It does not represent the actual median age of the population who married during the calendar year. It is shown to the nearest tenth of a year. Henry S. Shryock and Jacob S. Siegel outline the osculatory procedure in Methods and Materials of Demography, First Edition (May 1973), Volume 1.

Marital History
Beginning in 2008, people 15 years and over who were ever married ("married," "widowed," "separated," or "divorced") were asked if they had been married, widowed, or divorced in the past 12 months. They were asked how many times (once, two times, three or more times) they have been married, and the year of their last marriage.

Question/Concept History
The word "current" was dropped from the 1996-1998 question. Since 1999, the question states, "What is this person's marital status?" The American Community Survey began providing the median age at first marriage with the 2004 data. Data on marital history were first collected in 2008 at the request of the Department of Health and Human Services to provide more detailed annual information on the marital status of the population. Before 2008, the marital status question was asked of all people and only tabulated for those 15 and over. In 2008, marital status was moved from the basic demographic section, at the beginning of the ACS questionnaire, to the detailed person section - a part of the questionnaire where questions were asked of only people 15 and over. The marital history questions follow the marital status question on the questionnaire.

Limitation of the Data
Beginning in 2006, the population in group quarters (GQ) is included in the ACS. Some types of GQ populations have marital status distributions that are very different from the household population. The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the marital status distribution. This is particularly true for areas with a substantial GQ population.

Comparability
The data on marital status can be compared to previous ACS years and to similar data collected on CPS and SIPP. Marital status is no longer asked on the Decennial Census. The marital history data, and particularly marriage and divorce rates derived from the questions asking if the person got married or divorced in the past 12 months is comparable to vital statistics collected by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2007-2009 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)