Data Dictionary: ACS 2006 -- 2010 (5-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Universe: Families
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2006-2010 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).

Family Households
A family consists of a householder and one or more other people living in the same household who are related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption. All people in a household who are related to the householder are regarded as members of his or her family. A family household may contain people not related to the householder, but those people are not included as part of the householder's family in tabulations. Thus, the number of family households is equal to the number of families, but family households may include more members than do families. A household can contain only one family for purposes of tabulations. Not all households contain families since a household may be comprised of a group of unrelated people or of one person living alone - these are called nonfamily households. Families are classified by type as either a "married- couple family" or "other family" according to the sex of the householder and the presence of relatives. The data on family type are based on answers to questions on sex and relationship that were asked of all people.
  • Married-Couple Family
A family in which the householder and his or her spouse are listed as members of the same household.
  • Other Family:
- Male Householder, No Wife Present -A family with a male householder and no spouse of householder present.
- Female Householder, No Husband Present - A family with a female householder and no spouse of householder present.

Family households and married-couple families do not include same-sex married couples even if the marriage was performed in a state issuing marriage certificates for same-sex couples. Same sex couple households are included in the family households category if there is at least one additional person related to the householder by birth or adoption.

Average Family Size
A measure obtained by dividing the number of people in families by the total number of families (or family householders). In cases where the measures, "people in family" or "people per family" are cross-tabulated by race or Hispanic origin, the race or Hispanic origin refers to the householder rather than the race or Hispanic origin of each individual. Average family size is rounded to the nearest hundredth.

A subfamily is a married couple (husband and wife interviewed as members of the same household) with or without never-married children under 18 years old, or one parent with one or more never-married children under 18 years old. A subfamily does not maintain its own household, but lives in a household where the householder or householder's spouse is a relative. The number of subfamilies is not included in the count of families, since subfamily members are counted as part of the householder's family. Subfamilies are defined during processing of data.

In selected tabulations, subfamilies are further classified by type: married-couple subfamilies, with or without own children; mother-child subfamilies; and father-child subfamilies.

In some labor force tabulations, children in both one-parent families and one-parent subfamilies are included in the total number of children living with one parent, while children in both married-couple families and married-couple subfamilies are included in the total number of children living with two parents.

Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2006-2010 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
The data for tenure were obtained from Housing Question 14 in the 2010 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 nation's 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?"

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