Data Dictionary: ACS 2008 -- 2010 (3-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Universe: Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population for Whom Poverty Status is Determined
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2008-2010 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 persons in a household or group quarters. On the mailout/mailback paper questionnaire for households, both age and date of birth are asked for persons listed as person numbers 1-5 on the form. Only age (in years) is initially asked for persons listed as 612 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 persons. In 2006, the ACS began collecting data in group quarters (GQs). This included asking both age and date of birth for persons living in a group quarters. For additional data collection methodology, please visit the ACS website.

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 visit the ACS website.

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 2010). 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 46 to 64 in the 2010 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 visit the ACS website.

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 2008-2010 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Ratio
This is a measure of the relative size of one number to a second number expressed as the quotient of the first number divided by the second. For example, the sex ratio is calculated by dividing the total number of males by the total number of females, and then multiplying by 100.

Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2008-2010 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Income in the Past 12 Months
The data on income were derived from answers to Questions 47 and 48, which were asked of the population 15 years old and over. "Total income" is the sum of the amounts reported separately for wage or salary income; net self-employment income; interest, dividends, or net rental or royalty income or income from estates and trusts; Social Security or Railroad Retirement income; Supplemental Security Income (SSI); public assistance or welfare payments; retirement, survivor, or disability pensions; and all other income.

Receipts from the following sources are not included as income: capital gains, money received from the sale of property (unless the recipient was engaged in the business of selling such property); the value of income "in kind" from food stamps, public housing subsidies, medical care, employer contributions for individuals, etc.; withdrawal of bank deposits; money borrowed; tax refunds; exchange of money between relatives living in the same household; gifts and lump-sum inheritances, insurance payments, and other types of lump- sum receipts.

Income is a vital measure of general economic circumstances. Income data are used to determine poverty status, to measure economic well-being, and to assess the need for assistance. These data are included in federal allocation formulas for many government programs. For instance:

Social Services: Under the Older Americans Act, funds for food, health care, and legal services are distributed to local agencies based on data about elderly people with low incomes. Data about income at the state and county levels are used to allocate funds for food, health care, and classes in meal planning to low-income women with children.

Employment: Income data are used to identify local areas eligible for grants to stimulate economic recovery, run job-training programs, and define areas such as empowerment or enterprise zones.

Housing: Under the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, income data are used to allocate funds to areas for home energy aid. Under the Community Development Block Grant Program, funding for housing assistance and other community development is based on income and other census data.

Education: Data about poor children are used to allocate funds to counties and school districts. These funds provide resources and services to improve the education of economically disadvantaged children.

In household surveys, respondents tend to underreport income. Asking the list of specific sources of income helps respondents remember all income amounts that have been received, and asking total income increases the overall response rate and thus, the accuracy of the answers to the income questions. The eight specific sources of income also provide needed detail about items such as earnings, retirement income, and public assistance.

Income Type in the Past 12 Months
The eight types of income reported in the American Community Survey are defined as follows:


Wage or salary income
Wage or salary income includes total money earnings received for work performed as an employee during the past 12 months. It includes wages, salary, Armed Forces pay, commissions, tips, piece-rate payments, and cash bonuses earned before deductions were made for taxes, bonds, pensions, union dues, etc.

Self-employment income
Self-employment income includes both farm and non-farm self-employment income.

Farm self-employment income includes net money income (gross receipts minus operating expenses) from the operation of a farm by a person on his or her own account, as an owner, renter, or sharecropper. Gross receipts include the value of all products sold, government farm programs, money received from the rental of farm equipment to others, and incidental receipts from the sale of wood, sand, gravel, etc. Operating expenses include cost of feed, fertilizer, seed, and other farming supplies, cash wages paid to farmhands, depreciation charges, rent, interest on farm mortgages, farm building repairs, farm taxes (not state and federal personal income taxes), etc. The value of fuel, food, or other farm products used for family living is not included as part of net income.

Non-farm self-employment income includes net money income (gross receipts minus expenses) from one's own business, professional enterprise, or partnership. Gross receipts include the value of all goods sold and services rendered. Expenses include costs of goods purchased, rent, heat, light, power, depreciation charges, wages and salaries paid, business taxes (not personal income taxes), etc.

Interest, dividends, net rental income, royalty income, or income from estates and trusts
Interest, dividends, or net rental income includes interest on savings or bonds, dividends from stockholdings or membership in associations, net income from rental of property to others and receipts from boarders or lodgers, net royalties, and periodic payments from an estate or trust fund.

Social Security income
Social Security income includes Social Security pensions and survivor benefits, permanent disability insurance payments made by the Social Security Administration prior to deductions for medical insurance, and railroad retirement insurance checks from the U.S. government. Medicare reimbursements are not included.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a nationwide U.S. assistance program administered by the Social Security Administration that guarantees a minimum level of income for needy aged, blind, or disabled individuals. The Puerto Rico Community Survey questionnaire asks about the receipt of SSI; however, SSI is not a federally-administered program in Puerto Rico. Therefore, it is probably not being interpreted by most respondents in the same manner as SSI in the United States. The only way a resident of Puerto Rico could have appropriately reported SSI would have been if they lived in the United States at any time during the past 12-month reference period and received SSI.


Public assistance income
Public assistance income includes general assistance and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). Separate payments received for hospital or other medical care (vendor payments) are excluded. This does not include Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or noncash benefits such as Food Stamps. The terms "public assistance income" and "cash public assistance" are used interchangeably in the 2010 ACS data products.

Retirement, survivor, or disability income
Retirement income includes: (1) retirement pensions and survivor benefits from a former employer; labor union; or federal, state, or local government; and the U.S. military; (2) disability income from companies or unions; federal, state, or local government; and the U.S. military; (3) periodic receipts from annuities and insurance; and (4) regular income from IRA and Keogh plans. This does not include Social Security income.

All other income
All other income includes unemployment compensation, worker's compensation, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) payments, alimony and child support, contributions received periodically from people not living in the household, military family allotments, and other kinds of periodic income other than earnings.

Cash Public Assistance
See "Public assistance income."

Income of Households
This includes the income of the householder and all other individuals 15 years old and over in the household, whether they are related to the householder or not. Because many households consist of only one person, average household income is usually less than average family income. Although the household income statistics cover the past 12 months, the characteristics of individuals and the composition of households refer to the time of interview. Thus, the income of the household does not include amounts received by individuals who were members of the household during all or part of the past 12 months if these individuals no longer resided in the household at the time of interview. Similarly, income amounts reported by individuals who did not reside in the household during the past 12 months but who were members of the household at the time of interview are included. However, the composition of most households was the same during the past 12 months as at the time of interview.


Income of Families
In compiling statistics on family income, the incomes of all members 15 years old and over related to the householder are summed and treated as a single amount. Although the family income statistics cover the past 12 months, the characteristics of individuals and the composition of families refer to the time of interview. Thus, the income of the family does not include amounts received by individuals who were members of the family during all or part of the past 12 months if these individuals no longer resided with the family at the time of interview. Similarly, income amounts reported by individuals who did not reside with the family during the past 12 months but who were members of the family at the time of interview are included. However, the composition of most families was the same during the past 12 months as at the time of interview.


Income of Individuals
Income for individuals is obtained by summing the eight types of income for each person 15 years old and over. The characteristics of individuals are based on the time of interview even though the amounts are for the past 12 months.

Median Income
The median divides the income distribution into two equal parts: one-half of the cases falling below the median income and one-half above the median. For households and families, the median income is based on the distribution of the total number of households and families including those with no income. The median income for individuals is based on individuals 15 years old and over with income. Median income for households, families, and individuals is computed on the basis of a standard distribution. (See the "Standard Distributions" section under "Derived Measures.") Median income is rounded to the nearest whole dollar. Median income figures are calculated using linear interpolation. (For more information on medians and interpolation, see "Derived Measures.")

Aggregate Income
Aggregate income is the sum of all incomes for a particular universe. Aggregate income is subject to rounding, which means that all cells in a matrix are rounded to the nearest hundred dollars. (For more information, see "Aggregate" under "Derived Measures.")

Mean Income
Mean income is the amount obtained by dividing the aggregate income of a particular statistical universe by the number of units in that universe. For example, mean household income is obtained by dividing total household income by the total number of households. (The aggregate used to calculate mean income is rounded. For more information, see "Aggregate income.")

For the various types of income, the means are based on households having those types of income. For household income and family income, the mean is based on the distribution of the total number of households and families including those with no income. The mean income for individuals is based on individuals 15 years old and over with income. Mean income is rounded to the nearest whole dollar.

Care should be exercised in using and interpreting mean income values for small subgroups of the population. Because the mean is influenced strongly by extreme values in the distribution, it is especially susceptible to the effects of sampling variability, misreporting, and processing errors. The median, which is not affected by extreme values, is, therefore, a better measure than the mean when the population base is small. The mean, nevertheless, is shown in some data products for most small subgroups because, when weighted according to the number of cases, the means can be computed for areas and groups other than those shown in Census Bureau tabulations. (For more information on means, see "Derived Measures.")

Income Quintile Upper Limits
Negative incomes are converted to zero for these measures. These measures are the quintile cutoffs, along with the 95th percentile of the distribution. (For more information on quintiles, see "Derived Measures.")

Means of Household Income by Quintiles
Means of household income by quintiles are calculated by dividing aggregate household income in each quintile by the number of
households in each quintile (one-fifth of the total number of households). (For more information on aggregates, see "Aggregate Income." For more information on quintiles, see "Derived Measures.")


Shares of Household Income by Quintiles
Negative incomes are converted to zero for these measures. These measures are the aggregate household income in each quintile as a percentage of the total aggregate household income. (For more information on aggregates, see "Aggregate income." For more information on quintiles, see "Derived Measures.")

Gini Index of Income Inequality
Negative incomes are converted to zero. The Gini index of income inequality measures the dispersion of the household income distribution. (For more information on the Gini index, see "Derived Measures.")

Earnings
Earnings are defined as the sum of wage or salary income and net income from self-employment. "Earnings" represent the amount of income received regularly for people 16 years old and over before deductions for personal income taxes, Social Security, bond purchases, union dues, Medicare deductions, etc. An individual with earnings is one who has either wage/salary income or self-employment income, or both. Respondents who "break even" in self-employment income and therefore have zero self-employment earnings also are considered "individuals with earnings."

Median Earnings
The median divides the earnings distribution into two equal parts: one- half of the cases falling below the median and one-half above the median. Median earnings is restricted to individuals 16 years old and over with earnings and is computed on the basis of a standard distribution. (See the "Standard Distributions" section under "Derived Measures.") Median earnings figures are calculated using linear interpolation. (For more information on medians and interpolation, see "Derived Measures.")


Aggregate Earnings
Aggregate earnings are the sum of wage/salary and net self- employment income for a particular universe of people 16 years old and over. Aggregate earnings are rounded to the nearest hundred dollars. (For more information, see "Aggregate" under "Derived Measures.")

Mean Earnings
Mean earnings is calculated by dividing aggregate earnings by the population 16 years old and over with earnings. (The aggregate used to calculate mean earnings is rounded. For more information, see ''Aggregate earnings.'') Mean earnings is rounded to the nearest whole dollar. (For more information on means, see "Derived Measures.")

Women's Earnings as a Percentage of Men's Earnings
Women's earnings as a percentage of men's earnings is defined as median earnings for females who worked fulltime, year-round divided by median earnings for males who worked full-time, year-round, multiplied by 100. (For more information see "full-time, year-round workers" under "Usual hours worked per weeks worked in the past 12 months" and "Median earnings.")

Per Capita Income
Per capita income is the mean income computed for every man, woman, and child in a particular group including those living in group quarters. It is derived by dividing the aggregate income of a particular group by the total population in that group. (The aggregate used to calculate per capita income is rounded. For more information, see "Aggregate" under "Derived Measures.") Per capita income is rounded to the nearest whole dollar. (For more information on means, see "Derived Measures.")

Adjusting Income for Inflation
Income components were reported for the 12 months preceding the interview month. Monthly Consumer Price Indices (CPI) factors were used to inflation-adjust these components to a reference calendar year (January through December). For example, a household interviewed in March 2010 reports their income for March 2009 through February 2010. Their income is adjusted to the 2010 reference calendar year by multiplying their reported income by 2010 average annual CPI (January-December 2010) and then dividing by the average CPI for March 2009-February2010.
In order to inflate income amounts from previous years, the dollar values on individual records are inflated to the latest year's dollar values by multiplying by a factor equal to the average annual CPI-U-RS factor for the current year, divided by the average annual CPI-U- RS factor for the earlier/earliest year.

Question/Concept History
The 1998 ACS questionnaire deleted references to Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) because of welfare law reforms.
In 1999, the ACS questions were changed to be consistent with the questions for the Census 2000. The instructions are slightly different to reflect differences in the reference periods. The ACS asks about the past 12 months, and the questions for the decennial census ask about the previous calendar year.

Limitation of the Data
Since answers to income questions are frequently based on memory and not on records, many people tend to forget minor or sporadic sources of income and, therefore, underreport their income. Underreporting tends to be more pronounced for income sources that are not derived from earnings, such as public assistance, interest, dividends, and net rental income.

Extensive computer editing procedures were instituted in the data processing operation to reduce some of these reporting errors and to improve the accuracy of the income data. These procedures corrected various reporting deficiencies and improved the consistency of reported income questions associated with work experience and information on occupation and class of worker. For example, if people reported they were self employed on their own farm, not incorporated, but had reported only wage and salary earnings, the latter amount was shifted to self-employment income. Also, if any respondent reported total income only, the amount was generally assigned to one of the types of income questions according to responses to the work experience and class-of-worker questions. Another type of problem involved non-reporting of income data. Where income information was not reported, procedures were devised to impute appropriate values with either no income or positive or negative dollar amounts for the missing entries. (For more information on imputation, see "Accuracy of the Data" at http://www.census.gov/acs/www/data documentation/documentation main.

In income tabulations for households and families, the lowest income group (for example, less than $10,000) includes units that were classified as having no income in the past 12 months. Many of these were living on income "in kind," savings, or gifts, were newly created families, or were families in which the sole breadwinner had recently died or left the household. However, many of the households and families who reported no income probably had some money income that was not reported in the American Community Survey.

Users should exercise caution when comparing income and earnings estimates for individuals since the 2006 ACS to earlier years because of the introduction of group quarters. Household and family income estimates are not affected by the inclusion of group quarters.

Users should exercise caution when comparing medians from the 2010 ACS to earlier years. There was a change between 2008 and 2009 1-Year and 3-Year Data Products in Income and Earnings median calculations. Medians above $75,000 were most likely to be affected.


Comparability
The income data shown in ACS tabulations are not directly comparable with those that may be obtained from statistical summaries of income tax returns. Income, as defined for federal tax purposes, differs somewhat from the Census Bureau concept. Moreover, the coverage of income tax statistics is different because of the exemptions for people having small amounts of income and the inclusion of net capital gains in tax returns.

Furthermore, members of some families file separate returns and others file joint returns; consequently, the tax reporting unit is not consistent with the census household, family, or person units.

The earnings data shown in ACS tabulations are not directly comparable with earnings records of the Social Security Administration (SSA). The earnings record data for SSA excludes the earnings of some civilian government employees, some employees of nonprofit organizations, workers covered by the Railroad Retirement Act, and people not covered by the program because of insufficient earnings. Because ACS data are obtained from household questionnaires, they may differ from SSA earnings record data, which are based upon employers' reports and the federal income tax returns of self-employed people.

The Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) publishes annual data on aggregate and per-capita personal income received by the population for states, metropolitan areas, and selected counties. Aggregate income estimates based on the income statistics shown in ACS products usually would be less than those shown in the BEA income series for several reasons. The ACS data are obtained from a household survey, whereas the BEA income series is estimated largely on the basis of data from administrative records of business and governmental sources. Moreover, the definitions of income are different. The BEA income series includes some questions not included in the income data shown in ACS publications, such as income "in kind," income received by nonprofit institutions, the value of services of banks and other financial intermediaries rendered to people without the assessment of specific charges, and Medicare payments. On the other hand, the ACS income data include contributions for support received from people not residing in the same household if the income is received on a regular basis.

In comparing income for the most recent year with income from earlier years, users should note that an increase or decrease in money income does not necessarily represent a comparable change in real income, unless adjusted for inflation.

Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2008-2010 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 family's total 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 individual's 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 2010 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 2010 and reporting a total family income of $14,000 for the last 12 months (July 2009 to June 2010). The base year (1982) threshold for such a family is $7,765, while the average of the 12 inflation factors is 2.24574 Multiplying $7,765 by 2.24574 determines the appropriate poverty threshold for this family type, which is $17,438 Comparing the family's income 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.


Individuals for Whom Poverty Status is Determined
Poverty status was determined for all people except institutionalized people, people in military group quarters, people in college dormitories, and unrelated individuals under 15 years old. These groups were excluded from the numerator and denominator when calculating poverty rates.

Specified Poverty Levels
Specified poverty levels are adjusted thresholds that are obtained by multiplying the official thresholds by specific factor. Using the threshold cited from the previous example (a family of three with one related child under 18 years responding in July 2010), the dollar value at 125 percent of the poverty threshold was $ 21,798 ($ 17,438x 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.

Aggregate Income Deficit
Aggregate income deficit refers only to those families or unrelated individuals who are classified as below the poverty level. It is defined as the group (e.g., type of family) sum total of differences between the appropriate threshold and total family income or total personal income. Aggregate income deficit is subject to rounding, which means that all cells in a matrix are rounded to the nearest hundred dollars. (For more information, see "Aggregate" under "Derived Measures.")

Mean Income Deficit
Mean income deficit represents the amount obtained by dividing the aggregate income deficit for a group below the poverty level by the number of families (or unrelated individuals) in that group. (The aggregate used to calculate mean income deficit is rounded. For more information, see "Aggregate Income Deficit.") As mentioned above, please use caution when comparing mean income deficits of families with different characteristics, as apparent differences may, to some extent, be a function of differences in family size. Mean income deficit is rounded to the nearest whole dollar. (For more information on means, see "Derived Measures.")


Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2008-2010 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Disability Status
Under the conceptual framework of disability described by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF), disability is defined as the product of interactions among individuals' bodies; their physical, emotional, and mental health; and the physical and social environment in which they live, work, or play. Disability exists where this interaction results in limitations of activities and restrictions to full participation at school, at work, at home, or in the community. For example, disability may exist where a person is limited in their ability to work due to job discrimination against persons with specific health conditions; or, disability may exist where a child has difficulty learning because the school cannot accommodate the child's deafness.

Furthermore, disability is a dynamic concept that changes over time as one's health improves or declines, as technology advances, and as social structures adapt. As such, disability is a continuum in which the degree of difficulty may also increase or decrease. Because disability exists along a continuum, various cut-offs are used to allow for a simpler understanding of the concept, the most common of which is the dichotomous "With a disability"/"no disability" differential.

Measuring this complex concept of disability with a short set of six questions is difficult. Because of the multitude of possible functional limitations that may present as disabilities, and in the absence of information on external factors that influence disability, surveys like the ACS are limited to capturing difficulty with only selected activities. As such, people identified by the ACS as having a disability are, in fact, those who exhibit difficulty with specific functions and may, in the absence of accommodation, have a disability. While this definition is different from the one described by the IOM and ICF conceptual frameworks, it relates to the programmatic definitions used in most Federal and state legislation.

In an attempt to capture a variety of characteristics that encompass the definition of disability, the ACS identifies serious difficulty with four basic areas of functioning - hearing, vision, cognition, and ambulation. These functional limitations are supplemented by questions about difficulties with selected activities from the Katz Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and Lawton Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) scales, namely difficulty bathing and dressing, and difficulty performing errands such as shopping. Overall, the ACS attempts to capture six aspects of disability, which can be used together to create an overall disability measure, or independently to identify populations with specific disability types.

Information on disability is used by a number of federal agencies to distribute funds and develop programs for people with disabilities. For example, data about the size, distribution, and needs of the disabled population are essential for developing disability employment policy. For the Americans with Disabilities Act, data about functional limitations are important to ensure that comparable public transportation services are available for all segments of the population. Federal grants are awarded, under the Older Americans Act, based on the number of elderly people with physical and mental disabilities.

Question/Concept History
In the 2010 American Community Survey, disability concepts were asked in questions 17 through 19. Question 17 had two subparts and was asked of all persons regardless of age. Question 18 had three subparts and was asked of people age 5 years and older. Question 19 was asked of people age 15 years and older.

Hearing difficulty
Hearing difficulty was derived from question 17a, which asked respondents if they were "deaf or ... [had] serious difficulty hearing."

Vision difficulty
Vision difficulty was derived from question 17b, which asked respondents if they were "blind or ... [had] serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses." Prior to the 2008 ACS, hearing and vision difficulty were asked in a single question under the label "Sensory disability."

Cognitive difficulty
Cognitive difficulty was derived from question 18a, which asked respondents if due to physical, mental, or emotional condition, they had "serious difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions." Prior to the 2008 ACS, the question on cognitive functioning asked about difficulty "learning, remembering, or concentrating" under the label "Mental disability."

Ambulatory difficulty
Ambulatory difficulty was derived from question 18b, which asked respondents if they had "serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs." Prior to 2008, the ACS asked if respondents had "a condition that substantially limits one or more basic physical activities such as walking, climbing stairs, reaching, lifting, or carrying." This measure was labeled "Physical difficulty" in ACS data products.

Self-care difficulty
Self-care difficulty was derived from question 18c, which asked respondents if they had "difficulty dressing or bathing." Difficulty with these activities are two of six specific Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) often used by health care providers to assess patients' self- care needs. Prior to the 2008 ACS, the question on self-care limitations asked about difficulty "dressing, bathing, or getting around inside the home," under the label "Self-care disability."

Independent living difficulty
Independent living difficulty was derived from question 19, which asked respondents if due to a physical, mental, or emotional condition, they had difficulty "doing errands alone such as visiting a doctor's office or shopping." Difficulty with this activity is one of several Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) used by health care providers in making care decisions. Prior to the 2008 ACS, a similar measure on difficulty "going outside the home alone to shop or visit a doctor's office" was asked under the label "Go-outside-home disability."

Disability status is determined from the answers from these six types of difficulty. For children under 5 years old, hearing and vision difficulty are used to determine disability status. For children between the ages of 5 and 14, disability status is determined from hearing, vision, cognitive, ambulatory, and self-care difficulties. For people aged 15 years and older, they are considered to have a disability if they have difficulty with any one of the six difficulty types.

Limitation of the Data
The universe for most disability data tabulations is the civilian noninstitutionalized population. Some types of GQ populations have disability distributions that are different from the household population. The inclusion of the noninstitutionalized GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the disability distribution. This is particularly true for areas with a substantial noninstitutionalized GQ population. For a discussion of the effect of group quarters data has on estimates of disability status, see "Disability Status and the Characteristics of People in Group Quarters: A Brief Analysis of Disability Prevalence among the Civilian Noninstitutionalized and Total Populations in the American Community Survey" (http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/disability/GQdisability.pdf).

Comparability
Beginning in 2008, questions on disability represent a conceptual and empirical break from earlier years of the ACS. Hence, the Census Bureau does not recommend any comparisons of 2010 disability data to 2007 and earlier ACS disability data.
Research suggests that combining the new separate measures of hearing and vision difficulty to generate a sensory difficulty measure does not create a comparable estimate to the old Sensory disability estimates in prior ACS products. Likewise, the cognitive difficulty, ambulatory difficulty, self-care difficulty, and independent living difficulty measures are based on different sets of activities and different question wordings from similar measures in ACS questionnaires prior to 2008 and thus should not be compared. Because the overall measure of disability status beginning in 2008 is based on different measures of difficulty, these estimates should also not be compared to prior years. For additional information on the differences between the ACS disability questions beginning in 2008 and prior ACS disability questions, see "Review of Changes to the Measurement of Disability in the 2008 American Community Survey" (http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/disability/2008ACS disability.pdf).

The 2010 disability estimates should also not be compared with disability estimates from Census 2000 for reasons similar to the ones made above. ACS disability estimates should also not be compared with more detailed measures of disability from sources such as the National Health Interview Survey and the Survey of Income and Program Participation.
The 2010 ACS disability estimates are comparable with the ACS disability estimates from 2008 and 2009.