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Data Dictionary: ACS 2009 (3-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Table: B06012. Place of Birth By Poverty Status in the Past 12 Months in the United States [20]
Universe: Population in the United States for whom poverty status Is determined
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2007-2009 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
Place of Birth
The data on place of birth were derived from answers to Question 7. Respondents were asked to select one of two categories: (1) in the United States, or (2) outside the United States. In the American Community Survey, respondents selecting category (1) were then asked to report the name of the state while respondents selecting category (2) were then asked to report the name of the foreign country, or Puerto Rico, Guam, etc. In the Puerto Rico Community Survey, respondents selecting category (1) were also asked to report the name of the state, while respondents selecting category (2) were then asked to print Puerto Rico or the name of the foreign country, or U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, etc. People not reporting a place of birth were assigned the state or country of birth of another family member, or were allocated the response of another individual with similar characteristics. People born outside the United States were asked to report their place of birth according to current international boundaries. Since numerous changes in boundaries of foreign countries have occurred in the last century, some people may have reported their place of birth in terms of boundaries that existed at the time of their birth or emigration, or in accordance with their own national preference.

The place of birth questions along with the citizenship status question provide essential data for setting and evaluating immigration policies and laws. Knowing the characterisitcs of immigrants helps legislators and others understand how different immigrant groups are assimilated. Federal agencies require these data to develop programs for refugees and other foreign-born individuals. Vital information on lifetime migration among states also comes from the place of birth question.

Information on place of birth and citizenship status was used to classify the population into two major categories: native and foreign born.

The native population includes anyone who was a U.S. citizen at birth. The native population includes those born in the United States, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Marianas, or the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as those born abroad of at least one U.S. citizen parent. The native population is divided into the following groups: people born in the state in which they resided at the time of the survey; people born in a different state, by region; people born in Puerto Rico or one of the U.S. Island Areas; and people born abroad with at least one U.S. citizen parent. (See also "Citizenship Status.")

Foreign Born
The foreign-born population includes anyone who was not a U.S. citizen at birth. This includes respondents who indicated they were a U.S. citizen by naturalization or not a U.S. citizen. (See also Citizenship Status.) The foreign-born population is shown by selected area, country, or region of birth. The places of birth shown in data products were chosen based on the number of respondents who reported that area or country of birth.

Question/Concept History
The 1996-1998 American Community Survey question asked respondents to write in the U.S. state, territory, commonwealth or foreign country where this person was born. Beginning in 1999, the question asked "Where was this person born?" and provided two check-boxes, each with a write-in space.

Limitation of the Data
Beginning in 2006, the group quarters (GQ) population is included in the ACS. Some types of GQ populations may have place of birth distributions that are different from the household population. The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the place of birth distribution. This is particularly true for areas with a substantial GQ population.

This data source is comparable to the decennial censuses. See the 2009 Code List for Place of Birth Code List.

Poverty Status of Households in the Past 12 Months
Since poverty is defined at the family level and not the household level, the poverty status of the household is determined by the poverty status of the householder. Households are classified as poor when the total income of the householder's family in the last 12 months is below the appropriate poverty threshold. (For nonfamily householders, their own income is compared with the appropriate threshold.) The income of people living in the household who are unrelated to the householder is not considered when determining the poverty status of a household, nor does their presence affect the family size in determining the appropriate threshold. The poverty thresholds vary depending upon three criteria: size of family, number of children, and, for one- and two- person families, age of the householder.

Question/Concept History
Derivation of the Current Poverty Measure - When the original poverty definition was developed in 1964 by the Social Security Administration (SSA), it focused on family food consumption. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) used its data about the nutritional needs of children and adults to construct food plans for families. Within each food plan, dollar amounts varied according to the total number of people in the family and the family's composition, that is, the number of children within each family. The cheapest of these plans, the Economy Food Plan, was designed to address the dietary needs of families on an austere budget.

Since the USDAs 1955 Food Consumption Survey showed that families of three or more people across all income levels spent roughly one-third of their income on food, the SSA multiplied the cost of the Economy Food Plan by three to obtain dollar figures for total family income. These dollar figures, with some adjustments, later became the official poverty thresholds. Since the Economy Food Plan budgets varied by family size and composition, so too did the poverty thresholds. For two-person families, the thresholds were adjusted by slightly higher factors because those households had higher fixed costs. Thresholds for unrelated individuals were calculated as a fixed proportion of the corresponding thresholds for two-person families. The poverty thresholds are revised annually to allow for changes in the cost of living as reflected in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). The poverty thresholds are the same for all parts of the country; they are not adjusted for regional, state, or local variations in the cost of living.

Limitation of the Data
Beginning in 2006, the population in group quarters (GQ) is included in the ACS. The part of the group quarters population in the poverty universe (for example, people living in group homes or those living in agriculture workers dormitories) is many times more likely to be in poverty than people living in households. Direct comparisons of the data would likely result in erroneous conclusions about changes in the poverty status of all people in the poverty universe. Comparability - Because of differences in survey methodology (questionnaire design, method of data collection, sample size, etc.), the poverty rate estimates obtained from American Community Survey data may differ from those reported in the Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, and those reported in Census 2000. Please refer to ( for more details.