Data Dictionary: Census 1990
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Survey: Census 1990
Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Universe: Persons 25 years and over
Variable Details
P58. Race By Educational Attainment
Universe: Persons 25 years and over
P058_033 Graduate or professional degree
Aggregation method:
Addition
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer, U.S. Census Bureau; Census of Population and Housing, 1990: Summary Tape File 3 on CD-ROM [machine-readable data files] / prepared by the Bureau of the Census. Washington: The Bureau [producer and distributor], 1991.
 
Race
The data on race were derived from answers to questionnaire item 4, which was asked of all persons. The concept of race as used by the Census Bureau reflects self-identification; it does not denote any clear-cut scientific definition of biological stock. The data for race represent self-classification by people according to the race with which they most closely identify. Furthermore, it is recognized that the categories of the race item include both racial and national origin or socio-cultural groups.

During direct interviews conducted by enumerators, if a person could not provide a single response to the race question, he or she was asked to select, based on self-identification, the group which best described his or her racial identity. If a person could not provide a single race response, the race of the mother was used. If a single race response could not be provided for the person's mother, the first race reported by the person was used. In all cases where occupied housing units, households, or families are classified by race, the race of the householder was used.

The racial classification used by the Census Bureau generally adheres to the guidelines in Federal Statistical Directive No. 15, issued by the Office of Management and Budget, which provides standards on ethnic and racial categories for statistical reporting to be used by all Federal agencies. The racial categories used in the 1990 census data products are provided below.

Includes persons who indicated their race as "White" or reported entries such as Canadian, German, Italian, Lebanese, Near Easterner, Arab, or Polish.

Includes persons who indicated their race as "Black or Negro" or reported entries such as African American, Afro-American, Black Puerto Rican, Jamaican, Nigerian, West Indian, or Haitian.

American Indian, Eskimo, or Aleut
Includes persons who classified themselves as such in one of the specific race categories identified below.

American Indian
Includes persons who indicated their race as "American Indian," entered the name of an Indian tribe, or reported such entries as Canadian Indian, French-American Indian, or Spanish-American Indian.

American Indian Tribe
Persons who identified themselves as American Indian were asked to report their enrolled or principal tribe. Therefore, tribal data in tabulations reflect the written tribal entries reported on the questionnaires. Some of the entries (for example, Iroquois, Sioux, Colorado River, and Flathead) represent nations or reservations.
The information on tribe is based on self-identification and therefore does not reflect any designation of Federally- or State-recognized tribe. Information on American Indian tribes is presented in summary tape files and special data products. The information is derived from the American Indian Detailed Tribal Classification List for the 1990 census. The classification list represents all tribes, bands, and clans that had a specified number of American Indians reported on the census questionnaire.

Eskimo
Includes persons who indicated their race as "Eskimo" or reported entries such as Arctic Slope, Inupiat, and Yupik.

Includes persons who indicated their race as "Aleut" or reported entries such as Alutiiq, Egegik, and Pribilovian.

Asian or Pacific Islander
Includes persons who reported in one of the Asian or Pacific Islander groups listed on the questionnaire or who provided write-in responses such as Thai, Nepali, or Tongan. A more detailed listing of the groups comprising the Asian or Pacific Islander population is presented in figure 2 below. In some data products, information is presented separately for the Asian population and the Pacific Islander population.

Includes "Chinese," "Filipino," "Japanese," "Asian Indian," "Korean," "Vietnamese," and "Other Asian." In some tables, "Other Asian" may not be shown separately, but is included in the total Asian population.

Chinese
Includes persons who indicated their race as "Chinese" or who identified themselves as Cantonese, Tibetan, or Chinese American. In standard census reports, persons who reported as "Taiwanese" or "Formosan" are included here with Chinese. In special reports on the Asian or Pacific Islander population, information on persons who identified themselves as Taiwanese are shown separately.

Filipino
Includes persons who indicated their race as "Filipino" or reported entries such as Philipino, Philipine, or Filipino American.

Japanese
Includes persons who indicated their race as "Japanese" and persons who identified themselves as Nipponese or Japanese American.

Asian Indian
Includes persons who indicated their race as "Asian Indian" and persons who identified themselves as Bengalese, Bharat, Dravidian, East Indian, or Goanese.

Korean
Includes persons who indicated their race as "Korean" and persons who identified themselves as Korean American.

Vietnamese
Includes persons who indicated their race as "Vietnamese" and persons who identified themselves as Vietnamese American.

Cambodian
Includes persons who provided a write-in response such as Cambodian or Cambodia.
Includes persons who provided a write-in response such as Hmong, Laohmong, or Mong.
Laotian
Includes persons who provided a write-in response such as Laotian, Laos, or Lao.
Includes persons who provided a write-in response such as Thai, Thailand, or Siamese.
Other Asian
Includes persons who provided a write-in response of Bangladeshi, Burmese, Indonesian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Amerasian, or Eurasian. See figure 2 for other groups comprising "Other Asian."
Pacific Islander
Includes persons who indicated their race as "Pacific Islander" by classifying themselves into one of the following groups or identifying themselves as one of the Pacific Islander cultural groups of Polynesian, Micronesian, or Melanesian.

Hawaiian
Includes persons who indicated their race as "Hawaiian" as well as persons who identified themselves as Part Hawaiian or Native Hawaiian. Samoan--Includes persons who indicated their race as "Samoan" or persons who identified themselves as American Samoan or Western Samoan.

Guamanian
Includes persons who indicated their race as "Guamanian" or persons who identified themselves as Chamorro or Guam. Other Pacific Islander--Includes persons who provided a write-in response of a Pacific Islander group such as Tahitian, Northern Mariana Islander, Palauan, Fijian, or a cultural group such as Polynesian, Micronesian, or Melanesian. See figure 2 for other groups comprising "Other Pacific Islander."

Other Race
Includes all other persons not included in the "White," "Black," "American Indian, Eskimo, or Aleut," and the "Asian or Pacific Islander" race categories described above. Persons reporting in the "Other race" category and providing write-in entries such as multiracial, multiethnic, mixed, interracial, Wesort, or a Spanish/Hispanic origin group (such as Mexican, Cuban, or Puerto Rican) are included here.

Written entries to three categories on the race item--"Indian (Amer.)," "Other Asian or Pacific Islander (API)," and "Other race"--were reviewed, edited, and coded by subject matter specialists. (For more information on the coding operation, see the section below that discusses "Comparability.")

The written entries under "Indian (Amer.)" and "Other Asian or Pacific Islander (API)" were reviewed and coded during 100-percent processing of the 1990 census questionnaires. A substantial portion of the entries for the "Other race" category also were reviewed, edited, and coded during the 100-percent processing. The remaining entries under "Other race" underwent review and coding during sample processing. Most of the written entries reviewed and coded during sample processing were those indicating Hispanic origin such as Mexican, Cuban, or Puerto Rican.

If the race entry for a member of a household was missing on the questionnaire, race was assigned based upon the reported entries of race by other household members using specific rules of precedence of household relationship. For example, if race was missing for the daughter of the householder, then the race of her mother (as female householder or female spouse) would be assigned. If there was no female householder or spouse in the household, the daughter would be assigned her father's (male householder) race. If race was not reported for anyone in the household, the race of a householder in a previously processed household was assigned. This procedure is a variation of the general imputation procedures described in Appendix C, Accuracy of the Data.

Limitation of the Data
In the 1980 census, a relatively high proportion (20 percent) of American Indians did not report any tribal entry in the race item. Evaluation of the pre-census tests indicated that changes made for the 1990 race item should improve the reporting of tribes in the rural areas (especially on reservations) for the 1990 census. The results for urban areas were inconclusive. Also, the precensus tests indicated that there may be overreporting of the Cherokee tribe. An evaluation of 1980 census data showed overreporting of Cherokee in urban areas or areas where the number of American Indians was sparse.

In the 1990 census, respondents sometimes did not fill in a circle or filled the "Other race" circle and wrote in a response, such as Arab, Polish, or African American in the shared write-in box for "Other race" and "Other API" responses. During the automated coding process, these responses were edited and assigned to the appropriate racial designation. Also, some Hispanic origin persons did not fill in a circle, but provided entries such as Mexican or Puerto Rican. These persons were classified in the "Other race" category during the coding and editing process. There may be some minor differences between sample data and 100- percent data because sample processing included additional edits not included in the 100-percent processing.

Figure 2. Asian or Pacific Islander Groups Reported in the 1990 Census
Asian Pacific Islander
Chinese Hawaiian
Filipino Samoan
Japanese Guamanian
Asian Indian Other Pacific Islander[1]
Korean   Carolinian
Vietnamese   Fijian
Cambodian   Kosraean [3]
Hmong   Melanesian
Laotian   Micronesian [3]
Thai   Northern Mariana Islander
Other Asian [1]   Palauan
  Bangladeshi   Papua Now Guinean
  Bhutanese   Ponapean (Pohnpeian)
  Borneo   Polynesian
  Burmese   Solomon Islander
  Celebesian   Tahitian
  Ceram   Tarawa Islander
  Indochinese   Tokelauan
  Indonesian   Tongan
  Iwo-Jiman   Trukese (Chuukese)
  Javanese   Yapese
  Malayan   Pacific Islander, not speclied
  Maldivian
  Nepali
  Okinawan
  Pakistani
  Sikkim
  Singaporean
  Sri Lankan
  Sumatran
  Asian, not specified


(1)In some data products, specific groups listed under "Other Asian" or "Other Pacific Islander" are shown separately. Groups not shown are tabulated as "All other Asian" or "All other Pacific Islander," respectively.
(2)Includes entries such as Asian American, Asian, Asiatic, Amerasian, and Eurasian.
(3)Polynesian, Micronesian, and Melanesian are Pacific Islander cultural groups.

Comparability
Differences between the 1990 census and earlier censuses affect the comparability of data for certain racial groups and American Indian tribes. The 1990 census was the first census to undertake, on a 100- percent basis, an automated review, edit, and coding operation for written responses to the race item. The automated coding system used in the 1990 census greatly reduced the potential for error associated with a clerical review. Specialists with a thorough knowledge of the race subject matter reviewed, edited, coded, and resolved inconsistent or incomplete responses. In the 1980 census, there was only a limited clerical review of the race responses on the 100-percent forms with a full clerical review conducted only on the sample questionnaires.

Another major difference between the 1990 and preceding censuses is the handling of the write-in responses for the Asian or Pacific Islander populations. In addition to the nine Asian or Pacific Islander categories shown on the questionnaire under the spanner "Asian or Pacific Islander (API)," the 1990 census race item provided a new residual category, "Other API," for Asian or Pacific Islander persons who did not report in one of the listed Asian or Pacific Islander groups. During the coding operation, write-in responses for "Other API" were reviewed, coded, and assigned to the appropriate classification. For example, in 1990, a write-in entry of Laotian, Thai, or Javanese is classified as "Other Asian," while a write-in entry of Tongan or Fijian is classified as "Other Pacific Islander." In the 1990 census, these persons were able to identify as "Other API" in both the 100-percent and sample operations.

In the 1980 census, the nine Asian or Pacific Islander groups were also listed separately. However, persons not belonging to these nine groups wrote in their specific racial group under the "Other" race category. Persons with a written entry such as Laotian, Thai, or Tongan, were tabulated and published as "Other race" in the 100- percent processing operation in 1980, but were reclassified as "Other Asian and Pacific Islander" in 1980 sample tabulations. In 1980 special reports on the Asian or Pacific Islander populations, data were shown separately for "Other Asian" and "Other Pacific Islander."

The 1970 questionnaire did not have separate race categories for Asian Indian, Vietnamese, Samoan, and Guamanian. These persons indicated their race in the "Other" category and later, through the editing process, were assigned to a specific group. For example, in 1970, Asian Indians were reclassified as "White," while Vietnamese, Guamanians, and Samoans were included in the "Other" category.

Another difference between 1990 and preceding censuses is the approach taken when persons of Spanish/Hispanic origin did not report in a specific race category but reported as "Other race" or "Other." These persons commonly provided a write-in entry such as Mexican, Venezuelan, or Latino. In the 1990 and 1980 censuses, these entries remained in the "Other race" or "Other" category, respectively. In the 1970 census, most of these persons were included in the "White" category.

Excerpt from: Social Explorer, U.S. Census Bureau; Census of Population and Housing, 1990: Summary Tape File 3 on CD-ROM [machine-readable data files] / prepared by the Bureau of the Census. Washington: The Bureau [producer and distributor], 1991.
 
Educational Attainment
Data on educational attainment were derived from answers to questionnaire item 12, which was asked of a sample of persons. Data are tabulated as attainment for persons 15 years old and over. Persons are classified according to the highest level of school completed or the highest degree received. The question included instructions to report the level of the previous grade attended or the highest degree received for persons currently enrolled in school. The question included response categories which allowed persons to report completing the 12th grade without receiving a high school diploma, and which instructed respondents to report as "high school graduate(s)"--persons who received either a high school diploma or the equivalent, for example, passed the Test of General Educational Development (G.E.D.), and did not attend college. (On the Military Census Report questionnaire, the lowest response category was "Less than 9th grade.")

Instructions included in the 1990 respondent instruction guide, which was mailed with the census questionnaire, further specified that schooling completed in foreign or ungraded school systems should be reported as the equivalent level of schooling in the regular American system; that vocational certificates or diplomas from vocational, trade, or business schools or colleges were not to be reported unless they were college level degrees; and that honorary degrees were not to be reported. The instructions gave "medicine, dentistry, chiropractic, optometry, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, podiatry, veterinary medicine, law, and theology" as examples of professional school degrees, and specifically excluded "barber school, cosmetology, or other training for a specific trade" from the professional school category. The order in which they were listed suggested that doctorate degrees were "higher" than professional school degrees, which were "higher" than master's degrees.

Persons who did not report educational attainment were assigned the attainment of a person of the same age, race or Spanish origin, and sex who resided in the same or a nearby area. Persons who filled more than one circle were edited to the highest level or degree reported.

High School Graduate or Higher
Includes persons whose highest degree was a high school diploma or its equivalent, persons who attended college or professional school, and persons who received a college, university, or professional degree. Persons who reported completing the 12th grade but not receiving a diploma are not included.

Not Enrolled, Not High School Graduate
Includes persons of compulsory school attendance age or above who were not enrolled in school and were not high school graduates; these persons may be taken to be "high school dropouts." There is no restriction on when they "dropped out" of school, and they may have never attended high school.

In prior censuses, "Median school years completed" was used as a summary measure of educational attainment. In 1990, the median can only be calculated for groups of which less than half the members have attended college. "Percent high school graduate or higher" and "Percent bachelor's degree or higher" are summary measures which can be calculated from the present data and offer quite readily interpretable measures of differences between population subgroups. To make comparisons over time, "Percent high school graduate or higher" can be calculated and "Percent bachelor's degree or higher" can be approximated with data from previous censuses.

Comparability
From 1840 to 1930, the census measured educational attainment by means of a basic literacy question. In 1940, a single question was asked on highest grade of school completed. In the censuses of 1950 through 1980, a two-part question asking highest grade of school attended and whether that grade was finished was used to construct highest grade or year of school completed. For persons who have not attended college, the response categories in the 1990 educational attainment question should produce data which are comparable to data on highest grade completed from earlier censuses.

The response categories for persons who have attended college were modified from earlier censuses because there was some ambiguity in interpreting responses in terms of the number of years of college completed. For instance, it was not clear whether "completed the fourth year of college," "completed the senior year of college," and "college graduate" were synonymous. Research conducted shortly before the census suggests that these terms were more distinct in 1990 than in earlier decades, and this change may have threatened the ability to estimate the number of "college graduates" from the number of persons reported as having completed the fourth or a higher year of college. It was even more difficult to make inferences about post-baccalaureate degrees and "Associate" degrees from highest year of college completed. Thus, comparisons of post-secondary educational attainment in this and earlier censuses should be made with great caution.
In the 1960 and subsequent censuses, persons for whom educational attainment was not reported were assigned the same attainment level as a similar person whose residence was in the same or a nearby area. In the 1940 and 1950 censuses, persons for whom educational attainment was not reported were not allocated.