Data Dictionary: Census 1990
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Survey: Census 1990
Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Table: P61. School Enrollment, Educational Attainment, And Employment Status [22]
Universe: Persons 16 to 19 years
Table Details
P61. School Enrollment, Educational Attainment, And Employment Status
Universe: Persons 16 to 19 years
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.
 
School Enrollment and Type Of School
Data on school enrollment were derived from answers to questionnaire item 11, which was asked of a sample of persons. Persons were classified as enrolled in school if they reported attending a "regular" public or private school or college at any time between February 1, 1990, and the time of enumeration. The question included instructions to "include only nursery school, kindergarten, elementary school, and schooling which would lead to a high school diploma or a college degree" as regular school. Instructions included in the 1990 respondent instruction guide, which was mailed with the census questionnaire, further specified that enrollment in a trade or business school, company training, or tutoring were not to be included unless the course would be accepted for credit at a regular elementary school, high school, or college. Persons who did not answer the enrollment question were assigned the enrollment status and type of school of a person with the same age, race or Hispanic origin, and, at older ages, sex, whose residence was in the same or a nearby area.

Public and Private School
Includes persons who attended school in the reference period and indicated they were enrolled by marking one of the questionnaire categories for either "public school, public college" or "private school, private college." The instruction guide defines a public school as "any school or college controlled and supported by a local, county, State, or Federal Government." "Schools supported and controlled primarily by religious organizations or other private groups" are defined as private. Persons who filled both the "public" and "private" circles are edited to the first entry, "public."

Level of School in Which Enrolled
Persons who were enrolled in school were classified as enrolled in "preprimary school," "elementary or high school," or "college" according to their response to question 12 (years of school completed or highest degree received). Persons who were enrolled and reported completing nursery school or less were classified as enrolled in "preprimary school," which includes kindergarten. Similarly, enrolled persons who had completed at least kindergarten, but not high school, were classified as enrolled in elementary or high school. Enrolled persons who reported completing high school or some college or having received a postsecondary degree were classified as enrolled in "college." Enrolled persons who reported completing the twelfth grade but receiving "NO DIPLOMA" were classified as enrolled in high school. (For more information on level of school, see the discussion under "Educational Attainment.")

Comparability
School enrollment questions have been included in the census since 1840; grade attended was first asked in 1940; type of school was first asked in 1960. Before 1940, the enrollment question in various censuses referred to attendance in the preceding six months or the preceding year. In 1940, the reference was to attendance in the month preceding the census, and in the 1950 and subsequent censuses, the question referred to attendance in the two months preceding the census date.

Until the 1910 census, there were no instructions limiting the kinds of schools in which enrollment was to be counted. Starting in 1910, the instructions indicated that attendance at "school, college, or any educational institution" was to be counted. In 1930 an instruction to include "night school" was added. In the 1940 instructions, night school, extension school, or vocational school were included only if the school was part of the regular school system. Correspondence school work of any kind was excluded. In the 1950 instructions, the term "regular school" was introduced, and it was defined as schooling which "advances a person towards an elementary or high school diploma or a college, university, or professional school degree." Vocational, trade, or business schools were excluded unless they were graded and considered part of a regular school system. On-the-job training was excluded, as was nursery school. Instruction by correspondence was excluded unless it was given by a regular school and counted towards promotion.

In 1960, the question used the term "regular school or college" and a similar, though expanded, definition of "regular" was included in the instructions, which continued to exclude nursery school. Because of the census' use of mailed questionnaires, the 1960 census was the first in which instructions were written for the respondent as well as enumerators. In the 1970 census, the questionnaire used the phrase "regular school or college" and included instructions to "count nursery school, kindergarten, and schooling which leads to an elementary school certificate, high school diploma, or college degree." Instructions in a separate document specified that to be counted as regular school, nursery school must include instruction as an important and integral phase of its program, and continued the exclusion of vocational, trade, and business schools. The 1980 census question was very similar to the 1970 question, but the separate instruction booklet did not require that nursery school include substantial instructional content in order to be counted.

The age range for which enrollment data have been obtained and published has varied over the censuses. Information on enrollment was recorded for persons of all ages in the 1930 and 1940 and 1970 through 1990; for persons under age 30, in 1950; and for persons age 5 to 34, in 1960. Most of the published enrollment figures referred to persons age 5 to 20 in the 1930 census, 5 to 24 in 1940, 5 to 29 in 1950, 5 to 34 in 1960, 3 to 34 in 1970, and 3 years old and over in 1980. This growth in the age group whose enrollment was reported reflects increased interest in the number of children in preprimary schools and in the number of older persons attending colleges and universities.

In the 1950 and subsequent censuses, college students were enumerated where they lived while attending college, whereas in earlier censuses, they generally were enumerated at their parental homes. This change should not affect the comparability of national figures on college enrollment since 1940; however, it may affect the comparability over time of enrollment figures at sub-national levels.

Type of school was first introduced in the 1960 census, where a separate question asked the enrolled persons whether they were in a "public" or "private" school. Since the 1970 census, the type of school was incorporated into the response categories for the enrollment question and the terms were changed to "public," "parochial," and "other private." In the 1980 census, "private, church related" and "private, not church related" replaced "parochial" and "other private."

Grade of enrollment was first available in the 1940 census, where it was obtained from responses to the question on highest grade of school completed. Enumerators were instructed that "for a person still in school, the last grade completed will be the grade preceding the one in which he or she was now enrolled." From 1950 to 1980, grade of enrollment was obtained from the highest grade attended in the two-part question used to measure educational attainment. (For more information, see the discussion under "Educational Attainment.") The form of the question from which level of enrollment was derived in the 1990 census most closely corresponds to the question used in 1940. While data from prior censuses can be aggregated to provide levels of enrollment comparable to the 1990 census, 1990 data cannot be disaggregated to show single grade of enrollment as in previous censuses.

Data on school enrollment were also collected and published by other Federal, State, and local government agencies. Where these data were obtained from administrative records of school systems and institutions of higher learning, they were only roughly comparable with data from population censuses and household surveys because of differences in definitions and concepts, subject matter covered, time references, and enumeration methods. At the local level, the difference between the location of the institution and the residence of the student may affect the comparability of census and administrative data. Differences between the boundaries of school districts and census geographic units also may affect these comparisons.

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.

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.
 
Employment Status
The data on employment status were derived from answers to questionnaire items 21, 25, and 26, which were asked of a sample of persons. The series of questions on employment status was asked of all persons 15 years old and over and was designed to identify, in this sequence: (1) persons who worked at any time during the reference week; (2) persons who did not work during the reference week but who had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent (excluding layoff); (3) persons on layoff; and (4) persons who did not work during the reference week, but who were looking for work during the last four weeks and were available for work during the reference week. (For more information, see the discussion under "Reference Week.")

The employment status data shown in this and other 1990 census tabulations relate to persons 16 years old and over. Some tabulations showing employment status, however, include persons 15 years old. By definition, these persons are classified as "Not in Labor Force.". In the 1940, 1950, and 1960 censuses, employment status data were presented for persons 14 years old and over. The change in the universe was made in 1970 to agree with the official measurement of the labor force as revised in January 1967 by the U.S. Department of Labor. The 1970 census was the last to show employment data for persons 14 and 15 years old.

Employed
All civilians 16 years old and over who were either (1) "at work"--those who did any work at all during the reference week as paid employees, worked in their own business or profession, worked on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers on a family farm or in a family business; or (2) were "with a job but not at work"--those who did not work during the reference week but had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent due to illness, bad weather, industrial dispute, vacation, or other personal reasons. Excluded from the employed are persons whose only activity consisted of work around the house or unpaid volunteer work for religious, charitable, and similar organizations; also excluded are persons on active duty in the United States Armed Forces.

Unemployed
All civilians 16 years old and over are classified as unemployed if they (1) were neither "at work" nor "with a job but not at work" during the reference week, and (2) were looking for work during the last 4 weeks, and (3) were available to accept a job. Also included as unemployed are civilians who did not work at all during the reference week and were waiting to be called back to a job from which they had been laid off. Examples of job seeking activities are:

Registering at a public or private employment office
Meeting with prospective employers
Investigating possibilities for starting a professional
practice or opening a business
Placing or answering advertisements
Writing letters of application
Being on a union or professional register

Civilian Labor Force
Consists of persons classified as employed or unemployed in accordance with the criteria described above.

Experienced Unemployed
These are unemployed persons who have worked at any time in the past.

Experienced Civilian Labor Force
Consists of the employed and the experienced unemployed.

Labor Force
All persons classified in the civilian labor force plus members of the U.S. Armed Forces (persons on active duty with the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard).

Not in Labor Force
All persons 16 years old and over who are not classified as members of the labor force. This category consists mainly of students, housewives, retired workers, seasonal workers enumerated in an off season who were not looking for work, institutionalized persons, and persons doing only incidental unpaid family work (less than 15 hours during the reference week).

Worker
This term appears in connection with several subjects: journey-to work items, class of worker, weeks worked in 1989, and number of workers in family in 1989. Its meaning varies and, therefore, should be determined in each case by referring to the definition of the subject in which it appears.

Actual Hours Worked Last Week
All persons who reported working during the reference week were asked to report in questionnaire item 21b the number of hours that they worked. The statistics on hours worked pertain to the number of hours actually worked at all jobs, and do not necessarily reflect the number of hours typically or usually worked or the scheduled number of hours. The concept of "actual hours" differs from that of "usual hours" described below. The number of persons who worked only a small number of hours is probably understated since such persons sometimes consider themselves as not working. Respondents were asked to include overtime or extra hours worked, but to exclude lunch hours, sick leave, and vacation leave.

Limitation of the Data
The census may understate the number of employed persons because persons who have irregular, casual, or unstructured jobs sometimes report themselves as not working. The number of employed persons "at work" is probably overstated in the census (and conversely, the number of employed "with a job, but not at work" is understated) since some persons on vacation or sick leave erroneously reported themselves as working. This problem has no effect on the total number of employed persons. The reference week for the employment data is not the same for all persons. Since persons can change their employment status from one week to another, the lack of a uniform reference week may mean that the employment data do not reflect the reality of the employment situation of any given week. (For more information, see the discussion under "Reference Week.")

Comparability
The questionnaire items and employment status concepts for the 1990 census are essentially the same as those used in the 1980 and 1970 censuses. However, these concepts differ in many respects from those associated with the 1950 and 1960 censuses.

Since employment data from the census are obtained from respondents in households, they differ from statistics based on reports from individual business establishments, farm enterprises, and certain government programs. Persons employed at more than one job are counted only once in the census and are classified according to the job at which they worked the greatest number of hours during the reference week. In statistics based on reports from business and farm establishments, persons who work for more than one establishment may be counted more than once. Moreover, some tabulations may exclude private household workers, unpaid family workers, and self-employed persons, but may include workers less than 16 years of age.

An additional difference in the data arises from the fact that persons who had a job but were not at work are included with the employed in the census statistics, whereas many of these persons are likely to be excluded from employment figures based on establishment payroll reports. Furthermore, the employment status data in census tabulations include persons on the basis of place of residence regardless of where they work, whereas establishment data report persons at their place of work regardless of where they live. This latter consideration is particularly significant when comparing data for workers who commute between areas.

Census data on actual hours worked during the reference week may differ from data from other sources. The census measures hours actually worked, whereas some surveys measure hours paid for by employers. Comparability of census actual hours worked data may also be affected by the nature of the reference week (see "Reference Week").

For several reasons, the unemployment figures of the Census Bureau are not comparable with published figures on unemployment compensation claims. For example, figures on unemployment compensation claims exclude persons who have exhausted their benefit rights, new workers who have not earned rights to unemployment insurance, and persons losing jobs not covered by unemployment insurance systems (including some workers in agriculture, domestic services, and religious organizations, and self-employed and unpaid family workers). In addition, the qualifications for drawing unemployment compensation differ from the definition of unemployment used by the Census Bureau. Persons working only a few hours during the week and persons with a job but not at work are sometimes eligible for unemployment compensation but are classified as "Employed" in the census. Differences in the geographical distribution of unemployment data arise because the place where claims are filed may not necessarily be the same as the place of residence of the unemployed worker.

The figures on employment status from the decennial census are generally comparable with similar data collected in the Current Population Survey. However, some difference may exist because of variations in enumeration and processing techniques.