Includes the total number of ancestries reported and coded. If a person reported a multiple ancestry such as "German Danish," that response was counted twice in the tabulations--once in the German category and again in the Danish category. Also, if a person reported two different types of German ancestry, such as "Bavarian Hamburger," they would be counted twice in the German category on this type of table. Thus, each line of this table represents the number of reports for that ancestry type, not the number of people (although sometimes that number is the same). Likewise, the sum of the estimates in each of the rows in this type of presentation is not the total population but the total of all responses. The German line in this table is interpreted as "The number of times a German ancestry was reported."
The question on ancestry has been asked on the American Community Survey since 1996. The question wording has never changed, although placement of the question changed slightly. Also, the examples listed below the write-in lines changed in 1999, but have remained the same since then.
The question on ancestry was first asked in the 1980 Census. It replaced the question on parental place of birth, in order to include ancestral heritage for people whose families have been in the U.S. for more than two generations. The question also was asked in the 1990 Census and Census 2000.
From 1996 to 1999, the ACS editing system used answers to the race and place of birth questions to clarify ancestry responses of "Indian," where possible. In 2000 and subsequent years, the editing was expanded to aid interpretation of two-word ancestries, such as "Black Irish."
Limitation of the Data
Although some experts consider religious affiliation a component of ethnic identity, the ancestry question was not designed to collect any information concerning religion. The Census Bureau is prohibited from collecting information on religion. Thus, if a religion was given as an answer to the ancestry question, it was coded as an "Other" response.
Beginning in 2006, the population in group quarters (GQ) was included in the ACS. Some types of GQ populations may have ancestry distributions that are different from the household population. The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the ancestry distribution. This is particularly true for areas with a substantial GQ population.
The data are comparable to Census 2000, as long as some caution is used. Response rates to the ancestry question are generally higher for ACS than for Census, and data are never generated for missing ancestry responses, therefore some ancestry groups are reported more heavily in ACS than in Census 2000.
In 2010, there were two major changes to the coding rules. If up to two ancestries were listed, both were coded, even if one was the specific of the other or if one was American. Also, race groups and Hispanic groups were coded with the same priority as non-race andnon-Hispanic groups. For example, "Haitian Black French" would previously have been coded Haitian and French, but now would be coded Haitian and Black.
See the 2012 Code List on the ACS website (http://www.census.gov
) for Ancestry Code List.