Data Dictionary: Census 1990
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Survey: Census 1990
Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Table: P33. Imputation Of Age [3]
Universe: Persons not substituted
Table Details
P33. Imputation Of Age
Universe: Persons not substituted
Variable Label
P033_001
P033_002
P033_003
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer, U.S. Census Bureau; Census of Population and Housing, 1990: Summary Tape File 1 on CD-ROM [machine-readable data files] / prepared by the Bureau of the Census. Washington: The Bureau [producer and distributor], 1991.
 
Editing of Unacceptable Data
The objective of the processing operation is to produce a set of data that describes the population as accurately and clearly as possible. To meet this objective, questionnaires were edited during field data collection operations for consistency, completeness, and acceptability. Questionnaires were also reviewed by census clerks for omissions, certain inconsistencies, and population coverage. For example, write-in entries such as "Don't know" or "NA" were considered unacceptable. For some district offices, the initial edit was automated; however, for the majority of the district offices, it was performed by clerks. As a result of this operation, a telephone or personal visit follow-up was made to obtain missing information. Potential coverage errors were included in the follow-up, as well as a sample of questionnaires with omissions or inconsistencies.

Subsequent to field operations, remaining incomplete or inconsistent information on the questionnaires was assigned using imputation procedures during the final automated edit of the collected data. Allocations, or computer assignments of acceptable codes in place of unacceptable entries or blanks, are needed most often when an entry for a given item is lacking or when the information reported for a person or housing unit on that item is inconsistent with other information for that same person or housing unit. As in previous censuses, the general procedure for changing unacceptable entries was to assign an entry for a person or housing unit that was consistent with entries for persons or housing units with similar characteristics. The assignment of acceptable codes in place of blanks or unacceptable entries enhances the usefulness of the data.

Another way in which corrections were made during the computer editing process was through substitution; that is, the assignment of a full set of characteristics for a person or housing unit. When there was an indication that a housing unit was occupied, but the questionnaire contained no information for the people within the household, or the occupants were not listed on the questionnaire, a previously accepted household was selected as a substitute, and the full set of characteristics for the substitute was duplicated. The assignment of the full set of housing characteristics occurred when there was no housing information available. If the housing unit was determined to be occupied, the housing characteristics were assigned from a previously processed occupied unit. If the housing unit was vacant, the housing characteristics were assigned from a previously processed vacant unit.

Excerpt from: Social Explorer, U.S. Census Bureau; Census of Population and Housing, 1990: Summary Tape File 1 on CD-ROM [machine-readable data files] / prepared by the Bureau of the Census. Washington: The Bureau [producer and distributor], 1991.
 
Age
The data on age were derived from answers to questionnaire item 5, which was asked of all persons. The age classification is based on the age of the person in completed years as of April 1, 1990. The age response in question 5a was normally used to represent a person's age. However, when the age response was unacceptable or unavailable, a person's age was derived from an acceptable year of birth response in question 5b.

Data on age are used to determine the applicability of other questions for a person and to classify other characteristics in census tabulations. Age data are needed to interpret most social and economic characteristics used to plan and examine many programs and policies. Therefore, age is tabulated by single years of age and by many different groupings, such as 5-year age groups.

Some tabulations are shown by the age of the householder. These data were derived from the age responses for each householder. (For more information on householder, see the discussion under "Household Type and Relationship.")

Median Age
This measure divides the age distribution into two equal parts: one-half of the cases falling below the median value and one-half above the value. Generally, median age is computed on the basis of more detailed age intervals than are shown in some census publications; 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. (For more information on medians, see the discussion under "Derived Measures.")

Limitation of the Data
Counts in 1970 and 1980 for persons 100 years old and over were substantially overstated. Improvements were made in the questionnaire design, in the allocation procedures, and to the respondent instruction guide to attempt to minimize this problem in 1990.

Review of detailed 1990 information indicated that respondents tended to provide their age as of the date of completion of the questionnaire, not their age as of April 1, 1990. In addition, there may have been a tendency for respondents to round their age up if they were close to having a birthday. It is likely that approximately 10 percent of persons in most age groups are actually 1 year younger. For most single years of age, the misstatements are largely offsetting. The problem is most pronounced at age 0 because persons lost to age 1 may not have been fully offset by the inclusion of babies born after April 1, 1990 and because there may have been more rounding up to age 1 to avoid reporting age as 0 years. (Age in completed months was not collected for infants under age 1.)

The reporting of age 1 year older than age on April 1, 1990 is likely to have been greater in areas where the census data were collected later in 1990. The magnitude of this problem was much less in the three previous censuses where age was typically derived from respondent data on year of birth and quarter of birth. (For more information on the design of the age question, see the section below that discusses "Comparability.")

Comparability
Age data have been collected in every census. For the first time since 1950, the 1990 data are not available by quarter year of age. This change was made so that coded information could be obtained for both age and year of birth. In each census since 1940, the age of a person was assigned when it was not reported. In censuses before 1940, with the exception of 1880, persons of unknown age were shown as a separate category. Since 1960, assignment of unknown age has been performed by a general procedure described as "imputation." The specific procedures for imputing age have been different in each census. (For more information on imputation, see Appendix C, Accuracy of the Data.)