Data Dictionary: ACS 2009 -- 2011 (3-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Table: B17012. Poverty Status In The Past 12 Months Of Families By Household Type By Number Of Related Children Under 18 Years [35]
Universe: Universe: Families
Table Details
B17012. Poverty Status In The Past 12 Months Of Families By Household Type By Number Of Related Children Under 18 Years
Universe: Universe: Families
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2009-2011 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 RelatedChildren Under 18 Years (Dollars)," for appropriate base thresholds. See the table "The 2011 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 2011 and reporting a total family income of $14,000 for the last 12 months (July 2010 to June 2011). 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 2011), 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.")
Poverty Status of Households in the Past 12 Months
Since poverty is defined at the family level and not the household level, the poverty status of the household is determined by the poverty status of the householder. Households are classified as poor when the total income of the householder's family in the last 12 months is below the appropriate poverty threshold. (For nonfamily householders, their own income is compared with the appropriate threshold.) The income of people living in the household who are unrelated to the householder is not considered when determining the poverty status of a household, nor does their presence affect the family size in determining the appropriate threshold. The poverty thresholds vary depending upon three criteria: size of family, number of children, and, for one- and two- person families, age of the householder.
Question/Concept History
Derivation of the Current Poverty Measure - When the original poverty definition was developed in 1964 by the Social Security Administration (SSA), it focused on family food consumption. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) used its data about the nutritional needs of children and adults to construct food plans for families. Within each food plan, dollar amounts varied according to the total number of people in the family and the family's composition, that is, the number of children within each family. The cheapest of these plans, the Economy Food Plan, was designed to address the dietary needs of families on an austere budget.

Since the USDA's 1955 Food Consumption Survey showed that families of three or more people across all income levels spent roughly one-third of their income on food, the SSA multiplied the cost of the Economy Food Plan by three to obtain dollar figures for total family income. These dollar figures, with some adjustments, later became the official poverty thresholds. Since the Economy Food Plan budgets varied by family size and composition, so too did the poverty thresholds. For two-person families, the thresholds were adjusted by slightly higher factors because those households had higher fixed costs. Thresholds for unrelated individuals were calculated as a fixed proportion of the corresponding thresholds for two-person families.

The poverty thresholds are revised annually to allow for changes in the cost of living as reflected in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). The poverty thresholds are the same for all parts of the country; they are not adjusted for regional, state, or local variations in the cost of living.
Limitation of the Data
Beginning in 2006, the population in group quarters (GQ) is included in the ACS. The part of the group quarters population in the poverty universe (for example, people living in group homes or those living in agriculture workers' dormitories) is many times more likely to be in poverty than people living in households. Direct comparisons of the data would likely result in erroneous conclusions about changes in the poverty status of all people in the poverty universe.

Comparability
Because of differences in survey methodology (questionnaire design, method of data collection, sample size, etc.), the poverty rate estimates obtained from American Community Survey data may differ from those reported in the Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, and those reported in Census 2000. Please refer to
(http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/about/datasources/description.html) for more details.

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 householderand 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.

Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2009-2011 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Household Type and Relationship
The data on relationship to householder were derived from answers to Question 2, relationship to the householder, which was asked of all people in housing units. The question on relationship is essential for classifying the population info families and other groups. Information about changes in the composition of the American family, from the number of people living alone to the number of children living with only one parent, is essential for planning and carrying out a number of federal programs, such as families in poverty.

The responses to this question were used to determine the relationships of all persons to the householder, as well as household type (married couple family, nonfamily, etc.). From responses to this question, we were able to determine numbers of related children, own children, unmarried partner households, and multigenerational households. We calculated average household and family size. When relationship was not reported, it was imputed using the age difference between the householder and the person, sex, and marital status.

Household
A household includes all the people who occupy a housing unit. (People not living in households are classified as living in group quarters.) A housing unit is a house, an apartment, a mobile home, a group of rooms, or a single room that is occupied (or if vacant, is intended for occupancy) as separate living quarters. Separate living quarters are those in which the occupants live separately from any other people in the building and which have direct access from the outside of the building or through a common hall. The occupants may be a single family, one person living alone, two or more families living together, or any other group of related or unrelated people who share living arrangements.

Average Household Size
A measure obtained by dividing the number of people in households by the number of households. In cases where people in households are cross- classified by race or Hispanic origin, people in the household are classified by the race or Hispanic origin of the householder rather than the race or Hispanic origin of each individual. Average household size is rounded to the nearest hundredth.
Relationship to Householder
Householder
One person in each household is designated as the householder. In most cases, this is the person, or one of the people, in whose name the home is owned, being bought, or rented and who is listed on line one of the survey questionnaire. If there is no such person in the household, any adult household member 15 years old and over could be designated as the householder.

Households are classified by type according to the sex of the householder and the presence of relatives. Two types of householders are distinguished: a family householder and a non- family householder. A family householder is a householder living with one or more individuals related to him or her by birth, marriage, or adoption. The householder and all people in the household related to him or her are family members. A nonfamily householder is a householder living alone or with non-relatives only.

Spouse
Includes a person married to and living with a householder who is of the opposite sex of the householder. The category "husband or wife" includes people in formal marriages, as well as people in common-law marriages. In tabulations, unless otherwise specified, "Spouse" does not include same-sex married couples even if the marriage was performed in a state issuing marriage certificates for same-sex couples.
Includes a son or daughter by birth, a stepchild, or adopted child of the householder, regardless of the child's age or marital status. The category excludes sons-in-law, daughters- in-law, and foster children.
  • Biological son or daughter - The son or daughter of the householder by birth.
  • Adopted son or daughter - The son or daughter of the householder by legal adoption. If a stepson or stepdaughter has been legally adopted by the householder, the child is then classified as an adopted child.
  • Stepson or stepdaughter - The son or daughter of the householder through marriage but not by birth, excluding sons-in-law and daughters-in-law. If a stepson or stepdaughter of the householder has been legally adopted by the householder, the child is then classified as an adopted child.


Own Child
A never-married child under 18 years who is a son or daughter by birth, a stepchild, or an adopted child of the householder. In certain tabulations, own children are further classified as living with two parents or with one parent only. Own children of the householder living with two parents are by definition found only in married-couple families. (Note: When used in "EMPLOYMENT STATUS" tabulations, own child refers to a never married child under the age of 18 in a family or a subfamily who is a son or daughter, by birth, marriage, or adoption, of a member of the householder's family, but not necessarily of the householder.)
Related Child
Any child under 18 years old who is related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption. Related children of the householder include ever-married as well as never-married children. Children, by definition, exclude persons under 18 years who maintain households or are spouses or unmarried partners of householders.
Other Relatives
In tabulations, the category "other relatives" includes any household member related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption, but not included specifically in another relationship category. In certain detailed tabulations, the following categories may be shown:
  • Grandchild - The grandson or granddaughter of the householder.
  • Brother/Sister - The brother or sister of the householder, including stepbrothers, stepsisters, and brothers and sisters by adoption. Brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law are included in the "Other Relative" category on the questionnaire.
  • Parent - The father or mother of the householder, including a stepparent or adoptive parent. Fathers-in-law and mothers-in-law are included in the "Parent-in-law" category on the questionnaire.
  • Parent-in-law - The mother-in-law or father-in-law of the householder.
  • Son-in-law or daughter-in-law - The spouse of the child of the householder.
  • Other Relatives - Anyone not listed in a reported category above who is related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption (brother-in-law, grandparent, nephew, aunt, cousin, and so forth).


Nonrelatives
This category includes any household member, including foster children, not related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption. The following categories may be presented in more detailed tabulations:

  • Roomer or Boarder - A roomer or boarder is a person who lives in a room in the household of the householder. Some sort of cash or noncash payment (e.g., chores) is usually made for their living accommodations.
  • Housemate or Roommate - A housemate or roommate is a person age 15 years and over, who is not related to the householder, and who shares living quarters primarily in order to share expenses.
  • Unmarried Partner - An unmarried partner is a person age 15 years and over, who is not related to the householder, who shares living quarters, and who has a close personal relationship with the householder. Same-sex spouses are included in this category for tabulation purposes and for public use data files.
  • Foster Child - A foster child is a person who is under 21 years old placed by the local government in a household to receive parental care. Foster children may be living in the household for just a brief period or for several years. Foster children are nonrelatives of the householder. If the foster child is also related to the householder, the child is classified as that specific relative.
  • Other Nonrelatives - Anyone who is not related by birth, marriage, or adoption to the householder and who is not described by the categories given above.
When relationship is not reported for an individual, it is imputed according to the responses for age, sex, and marital status for that person while maintaining consistency with responses for other individuals in the household.

Unrelated Individual
n unrelated individual is: (1) a householder living alone or with nonrelatives only, (2) a household member who is not related to the householder, or (3) a person living in group quarters who is not an inmate of an institution.

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 householderand 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.

Subfamily
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.

Nonfamily Household
A householder living alone or with nonrelatives only. Same-sex couple households with no relatives of the householder present are tabulated in nonfamily households.

Unmarried-Partner Household
An unmarried-partner household is a household other than a "married-couple household" that includes a householder and an "unmarried partner." An "unmarried partner" can be of the same sex or of the opposite sex as the householder. An "unmarried partner" in an "unmarried-partner household" is an adult who is unrelated to the householder, but shares living quarters and has a close personal relationship with the householder. An unmarried-partner household also may be a family household or a nonfamily household, depending on the presence or absence of another person in the household who is related to the householder. There may be only one unmarried partner per household, and an unmarried partner may not be included in a married-couple household, as the householder cannot have both a spouse and an unmarried partner. Same-sex married couples are included in the count of unmarried-partner households for tabulations purposes and for public use data files.
Question/Concept History
Between 1996 and 2007, the question response categories remained the same. In 2008, the "Son or daughter" category was expanded to "Biological son or daughter," "Adopted son or daughter," and "Stepson or stepdaughter." Also "In-law" was expanded to "Parent-in-law" and "Son-in-law or daughter-in-law."

Limitation of the Data
Unlike the Current Population Survey (CPS) and the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), the ACS relationship question does not have a parent pointer to identify whether both parents are present. For example, if a child lives with unmarried parents, we only know the relationship of the child to the householder, not to the other parent. So a count of children living with two biological parents is not precise.

Comparability
The relationship categories for the most part can be compared to previous ACS years and to similar data collected in the decennial census, CPS, and SIPP. With the change in 2008 from "In-law" to the 2 categories of "Parent-in-law" and "Son- in-law or daughter-in-law", caution should be exercised when comparing data on in-laws from previous years. "In-law" encompassed any type of in-law such as sister-in-law. Combining "Parent-in-law" and "son-in-law or daughter-in-law" does not represent all "in-laws" in 2008. The same can be said of comparing the 3 categories of "biological" "step", and "adopted" child in 2008 to "Child" in previous years. Before 2008, respondents may have considered anyone under 18 as "child" and chosen that category. The ACS includes "foster child" as a category. However, the 2010 census did not contain this category, and "foster children" were included in the "Other nonrelative" category. Therefore, comparison of "foster child" cannot be made to the 2010 census.
Related Child
Any child under 18 years old who is related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption. Related children of the householder include ever-married as well as never-married children. Children, by definition, exclude persons under 18 years who maintain households or are spouses or unmarried partners of householders.