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Data Dictionary: ACS 2009 (3-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Universe: Population in Group Quarters
Variable Details
B98022. Group Quarters Population Response and Nonresponse Rates with Reasons For Noninterviews
Universe: Population in Group Quarters
B98022005 Resident Temporarily Absent
Aggregation method:
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2007-2009 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
Group Quarters
Group Quarters (GQs) are places where people live or stay, in a group living arrangement that is owned or managed by an entity or organization providing housing and/or services for the residents. These services may include custodial or medical care, as well as other types of assistance, and residency is commonly restricted to those receiving these services. People living in GQs usually are not related to each other. GQs include such places as college residence halls, residential treatment centers, skilled nursing facilities, group homes, military barracks, correctional facilities, workers dormitories, and facilities for people experiencing homelessness. GQs are defined according to the housing and/or services provided to residents, and are identified by census GQ type codes.

In January 2006, the American Community Survey (ACS) was expanded to include the population living in GQ facilities. The ACS GQ sample encompasses 12 independent samples; like the housing unit (HU) sample, a new GQ sample is introduced each month. The GQ data collection lasts only 6 weeks and does not include a formal nonresponse follow-up operation. The GQ data collection operation is conducted in two phases. First, U.S. Census Bureau Field Representatives (FRs) conduct interviews with the GQ facility contact person or administrator of the selected GQ (GQ level), and second, the FR conducts interviews with a sample of individuals from the facility (person level).

The GQ-level data collection instrument is an automated Group Quarters Facility Questionnaire (GQFQ). Information collected by the FR using the GQFQ during the GQ-level interview is used to determine or verify the type of facility, population size, and the sample of individuals to be interviewed. FRs conduct GQ-level data collection at approximately 20,000 individual GQ facilities each year.

A list of the GQ facilities (and their respective type codes) that are in scope for the 2009 ACS can be found in the 2009 Code List.

Question/Concept History
Though the American Community Survey (ACS) was expanded to include the population living in GQ facilities in 2006 the ACS began field testing early. The pretest in 2001 prevented the ACS from going into 2006 without determining whether or not the new processes, type codes, and procedures would produce the desired outcome for the ACS GQ data collection operation.

In 2001, the ACS GQ operational staff and other ACS staff implemented a number of changes in the GQ operation, the greatest of which was developing an automated Group Quarters Facility Questionnaire (GQFQ). The staff developed the GQFQ based on the decennial Other Living Quarters (OLQ) questionnaire used in the 2004 Census test. However, in order to make that questionnaire script fit with the ACS operation, the developers made some modifications, such as dropping the listing component, and adding the ability to capture multiple GQ types within the special place or GQ sampled.

Along with the introduction of an automated GQFQ, the ACS made the decision to use the revised GQ definitions planned for Census 2010, even though the definitions of GQ types were still evolving. The pretest used a draft version of the GQ definitions that existed at the end of November 2004. Since these definitions will continue to evolve over the next several years, the ACS needed a GQFQ that could easily adopt future revisions to the definitions. Thus, the developers designed a flexible GQFQ. It was through this flexibility that group quarter types have been able to be added or dropped (e.g. YMCA/YWCA and hostels).

The total group quarters population in the ACS may not be comparable with Census 2000 because there are some Census 2000 GQ types that were out of scope in the ACS such as domestic violence shelters, soup kitchens, regularly scheduled mobile food vans, targeted non-sheltered outdoor locations, crews of maritime vessels and living quarters for victims of natural disasters. Also, there are some Census 2000 GQ type categories that are no longer valid (residential care facility providing Protective Oversight, hospitals/wards for the chronically ill and hospitals/wards for drug/alcohol abuse). The exclusion of these GQ types from the ACS may result in a small bias in some ACS estimates to the extent that the excluded population is different from the included population. Furthermore, only a sample of GQ facilities throughout the United States and Puerto Rico are selected for the ACS. ACS controls the GQ sample at the state level only. Therefore, for lower levels of geography, particularly when there are relatively few GQs in a geographic area, the ACS estimate of the GQ population may vary from the estimate from Census 2000.

When comparing the 2009 ACS data with 2008 ACS data the data should be compared with caution at the National and State level. It should not be compared below the State level because the weighting for the group quarters (GQ) population is not controlled below the state level. Because of this users may observe greater fluctuations in year-to-year ACS estimates of the GQ population at sub-state levels than at state levels. The causes of these fluctuations typically are the result of either GQs that have closed or where the current population of the GQ is significantly different than the expected population as reflected on the sampling frame. Substantial changes in the ACS GQ estimates can impact ACS estimates of total population characteristics for areas where either the GQ population is a substantial proportion of the total population or where the GQ population may have very different characteristics than the total population as a whole. Users can assess the impact that year-to-year changes in sub-state GQ total population estimates have on the changes in total ACS population estimates by accessing Table B26001 on American Fact Finder. Users should also use their local knowledge to help determine whether the year-to-year change in the ACS estimate represents a real change in the GQ population or may be the result of the lack of adequate population controls for sub-state areas.

When comparing ACS GQ data across the years that group quarters data have been collected, it must be noted that beginning in 2008 military transient quarters, YMCA / YWCA and hostels were no longer in scope. These data were collected in 2006 and 2007.

Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2007-2009 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
Response Rates
The survey response rate is the ratio of the estimate of units interviewed after data collection is complete to the estimate of all units that should have been interviewed. Separate rates are calculated for housing unit response and GQ person response.

For housing units, this means all interviews after mail, telephone and personal visit follow-up.

For GQ persons, this means all interviews after the personal visit. Interviews include complete and partial interviews with enough information to be processed. All final noninterviews have been grouped into one of the following:

Reasons for Noninterviews:

Refusal: Even though the ACS is a mandatory survey and households whose addresses are selected and GQ persons who are selected for the survey are required to answer the survey questions, a few are reluctant to cooperate and refuse to participate. Unable to Locate: If the interviewer cannot find the sample address after using all possible sources, they consider it "unable to locate."

For GQ persons, the individual could not be located.

No One Home: Interviewers assign this code if they could not find anyone at the housing unit during the entire month's interview period. There is no equivalent rate for GQ persons.

Temporarily Absent: The interviewers confirm that all household members or the GQ person are away during the entire month's interview period on vacation, a business trip, or caring for sick relatives.

Language Problem: The interviewer could not conduct an interview because of language barriers, was not able to get an interpreter who could translate, and the supervisor or regional office could not help complete this case.

Insufficient Data: To be considered an interviewed unit in ACS, a household or GQ person's response needs to have a minimum amount of data. Occupied housing units and GQ persons not meeting this minimum are treated as noninterviews in the estimation process. Responses for vacant housing units are not subject to a minimum data requirement.

Other: Unique situations when the reason for noninterview does not fit into one of the classifications described above. Possible reasons include "death in the family," "household quarantined," or "roads impassable."

Whole GQ Refusal: Some group quarters refuse to allow the ACS to interview any of their residents, citing legal or other reasons.

Whole GQ Other: These account for other situations where no one in the GQ was interviewed due to reasons other than refusals.

There are two kinds of coverage error: under-coverage and over-coverage.

Under-coverage exists when housing units or people do not have a chance of being selected in the sample.

Over-coverage exists when housing units or people have more than one chance of selection in the sample, or are included in the sample when they should not have been. If the characteristics of under-covered or over-covered housing units or individuals differ from those that are selected, the ACS may not provide an accurate picture of the population.

The coverage rates measure coverage error in the ACS. The coverage rate is the ratio of the ACS population or housing estimate of an area or group to the independent estimate for that area or group, times 100.

Coverage rates for the total resident population are calculated by sex at the national, state, and Puerto Rico levels, and at the national level only for total Hispanics, and non-Hispanics crossed by the five major race categories: White, Black, American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. The total resident population includes persons in both housing units and group quarters. In addition, a coverage rate that includes only the group quarters population is calculated at the national level. Coverage rates for housing units are calculated at the national and state level, except for Puerto Rico because independent housing unit estimates are not available. These rates are weighted to reflect the probability of selection into the sample, the subsampling for personal visit follow-up, and non-response adjustment.