Data Dictionary: Census 1980
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Survey: Census 1980
Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Table: T56. Years Of School Completed for Persons 18+ [7]
Universe: Persons 18 Years Old And Over
Table Details
T56. Years Of School Completed for Persons 18+
Universe: Persons 18 Years Old And Over
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; Census of Population and Housing, 1980: Summary Tape File 3 [machine-readable data file] / conducted By the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Washington: Bureau of the Census [producer and distributor], 1982.
 
School Years Completed
Data on years of school completed are derived from two questions, one identifying the highest grade attended in regular school (see School Enrollment); the second determining whether the respondent finished the grade specified. These data were collected on a sample basis.

Those persons who passed a high school equivalency examination (such as GED) were marked "12" under the highest grade attended (if they had not completed or were not enrolled in a higher grade). Schooling received in foreign schools was to be reported as the equivalent grade or year in the regular American school system.

The number tabulated in each category of years of school completed includes (a) persons who reported that they had attended the indicated grade and had finished it, (b) those who had attended but did not complete the next higher grade and (c) those still attending the next higher grade. Most tabulations of years of school completed are restricted to persons 25 years old and over, although some include persons 18 to 24 years old. Tabulations include persons in school as well as those who have completed their schooling. A typical way of reporting years of school completed is as follows:

Elementary:
       0 to 4 years
       5 to 7 years
       8 years

High School:
       1 to 3 years
       4 years

College:
       1 to 3 years
       4 or more years

High school graduates
Persons who have completed 4 years of high school (grade 12) or any higher level of education. Therefore, to obtain a count of high school graduates from the breakdown illustrated above, the categories "High school: 4 years, "College: 1 to 3 years," and "College: 4 or more years" are to be ridded together.

Median school years completed
Calculated as divides the value which the population in half. Years-of-school-completed statistics are converted into a continuous series: the first year of high school becomes grade 9, the first year of college, grade 13, etc. Persons who have completed a given year are assumed to be evenly distributed from .O to .9 of the year. For example, persons rho have completed the 12th grade are assumed to be evenly distributed between 12.0 and 12.9. Note that this assumption is different than that applicable to other discrete variables. Actually, at the time of enumeration, most of the enrolled persons had attended at least three-fourths of a school year beyond the highest grade completed, whereas a large majority of persons who were not enrolled had not attended any part of a grade beyond the highest one completed. The effect of the assumption is to place the median for younger persons slightly below, and for older persons, slightly above, the true median.

Historical comparability
Questions on years of school completed have been asked in censuses since 1940, as a replacement for the literacy question which had been asked from 1840 to 1930.

See also: "School Enrollment;" "School Level".

Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; Census of Population and Housing, 1980: Summary Tape File 3 [machine-readable data file] / conducted By the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Washington: Bureau of the Census [producer and distributor], 1982.
 
Age
Age at last birthday, i.e., number of completed years from birth to April 1, 1980, based on replies to a question on month and year of birth. This item was asked on a complete-count basis.

Because of the central importance of the data on age, the question contains redundancies. The age entry on the basic tape record is derived from the FOSDIC entries of quarter and year of birth. For those persons who do not provide this information but who do provide "age at last birthday," the census enumerator or clerk uses an equivalency table to mark the appropriate FOSDIC circles. The item "age at last birthday" is used only secondarily because of the tendency of some people, in reporting their ages, to round off to "0" or "5" (and to report even rather than odd numbers). The write-in entries of month and year of birth are requested because some people have difficulty with (and therefore skip) the FOSDIC marking system in this question.

Age is tabulated by single years of age and by many different groupings such as 5-year age groups. Basic records identify single years (and quarter years on sample basic records) to 112. Public-use microdata samples show single years and quarters to 99, and 100 years or more.

Median Age
Calculated as the value which divides the age distribution into two equal parts, one-half the cases falling below this value, one-half above. Median age is computed from the age intervals or groupings shown in the particular tabulation, and thus a median based on a less detailed distribution may differ slightly from a corresponding median for the same population based on a more detailed distribution. If the median falls in the terminal category, e.g., 75 years and over, the median is shown as the initial age of the category with a plus sign, e.g., 75+.

Limitations
In previous censuses, undercoverage of the population has been associated with age. Young adults, especially Black males, were missed at a higher rate than other segments of the population. The same is true of centenarians.

Historical comparability
Age data have been collected in each census since 1790. Counts in 1970 and 1980 for persons 100 years old
and over were substantially overstated.

See also: "Age of Householder".