Educational Attainment (Volume II, Part V - Subject Reports)
Definitions and Explanations
Some of the definitions used in 1960 differ from those used in 1950. These changes were made after consultation with users of census data in order to improve the statistics, even though it was recognized that comparability would be affected. The Definitions and Explanations should be interpreted in the context of the 1960 Censuses, in which data were collected by a combination of self-enumeration, direct interview, and observation by the enumerator.
The definitions below are consistent with the instructions given to the enumerator. As in all surveys, there were some failures to execute the instructions exactly. Through the forms distributed to households, the respondents were given explanations of some of the questions more uniformly than would have been given in direct interviews. Nevertheless, it was not feasible to give the full instructions to the respondents, and some erroneous replies have undoubtedly gone undetected.
More complete discussions of the definitions of population items are given in 1960 Census of Population, Volume I, Characteristics of the Population, Part 1, United States Summary, and in each of the State parts.
Years of School Completed Definitions
The data on Years of School Completed were derived from the answers to the two questions: (a) "What is the highest grade (or year) of regular school he has ever attended?" and (b) "Did he finish this grade (or year)?" These questions on educational attainment applied only to progress in "regular" schools, as defined below. Both questions were asked of all persons 5 years of age and over. In the present report, these data are shown for persons 14 years old and over.
According to the census definition, "regular" schooling refers to formal education obtained in public and private (denominational and nondenominational) kindergartens, elementary schools, high schools, colleges, universities, or professional schools, whether day or night school, and whether attendance was full time or part time; that is, "regular" schooling is that which may advance a person toward an elementary school certificate or high school diploma, or a college, university, or professional degree. Schooling that was not obtained in a regular school and schooling from a tutor or through correspondence courses were counted only if the credits obtained were regarded as transferable to a school in the regular school system.
Highest grade of school attended
The first question called for the highest grade attended, regardless of "skipped" or "repeated" grades, rather than the number of full school years which the person had spent in school. If the highest grade of school attended was in a junior high school, the instructions were to determine the equivalent in elementary grades 1 to 8 or high school grades 1 to 4.
In some areas in the United States, the school system has, or formerly had, 11 years of school (7 years of elementary school and years of high school), rather than the more conventional 12 years (8 years of elementary school and b years of high school, or equivalent years in the elementary-junior high-senior high school system). Persons who had progressed beyond the 7th grade in this type of school system were treated as though they had progressed beyond the 8th grade of elementary school.
Enumerators were instructed to obtain the approximate equivalent grade in the American school system for persons whose highest grade of attendance was in a foreign school system, whose highest level of attendance was in an ungraded school, whose highest level of schooling was measured by "readers," or whose training by a tutor was regarded as qualifying under the "regular" school definition.
The second question on educational attainment asked whether or not the highest grade attended had been finished. It was to be answered "Yes" if the person had successfully completed the entire grade or year indicated in response to the previous question on the highest grade ever attended. If the person was still attending school in that grade, had completed only a half grade or semester, or had dropped out of or failed to pass the last grade attended, the question was to be answered "No."
Highest grade of school completed
The number in each category of highest grade of school completed represents the combination of (a) persons who reported that they had attended the indicated grade and finished it and (b) those who reported attending the next higher grade but who had not finished it.
Uses and Limitations of the Data
The data in this report may be used to study educational differences among groups classified by race, national origin, Marital Status, and economic status. One may analyze the association of education "with occupational placement, the money value of education and the extent to which this value relates to the type of work performed, the educational distribution of unemployed persons as compared with the employed, the relative educational progress of white and nonwhite persons and its relation to economic status, and the like.
The data on educational attainment refer only to that obtained through "regular" schooling, as defined above. Many types of "nonregular" (formal and informal) schooling and training may contribute substantially to an individual's knowledge and skills. The statistics on educational attainment in the census are restricted to progress in "regular" schools for several reasons: (1) Nearly all persons in the country are required to attend "regular" schools and pursue fairly standardized courses of basic study (2) "Regular" schools tend to be graded schools, with the result that a grade continuum for Years of School Completed can be shown and statistical comparisons can be effected (3) "Nonregular" types of schooling are varied and are difficult to define and to classify in enumeration.
The quality associated with and the benefits accruing from a given amount of schooling have probably varied over time and no doubt vary among areas of the country and among subgroups of the population. These differences can be accounted for partly by the relative adequacy of the school systems which persons have attended and the level of training they gave, and partly by the cultural, social, and psychological conditions under which persons in the different groups have lived.
In the 1940 Census, a single question was asked on highest grade of school completed. Analysis of the 1940 returns and those of other surveys conducted by the Census Bureau using wording similar to that used in 1940 indicated that respondents frequently reported the grade or year in which they were enrolled, or had last been enrolled, instead of the one completed. The two-question approach used in the 1950 and 1960 Censuses was designed to reduce this kind of error.
Analysis of the consistency of reported education data for age cohorts among the three censuses, 1940, 1950, and 1960, provides information on the relative net overreporting of educational attainment at the three dates. The data show that, in General, the statistics for 1960 are distributed more like those for 1940 than like those for 1950. Thus, although there was net overreporting at all three censuses, it appears to have been greatest in 1950 and generally of about the same order in 1940 and 1960. One implication of this finding is that the reported census data overstate the increase in years of schooling completed between 19^0 and 1950 and understate the increase between 1950 and 1960.
In the 1950 Census, persons for whom highest grade attended was reported but for whom no report was made on finishing the grade were assumed not to have finished the grade if they were at the compulsory school ages but to have finished the grade if they were not at those ages. In the 1960 Census, nonresponses on both highest grade attended and completion of grade were eliminated by the procedure described in the section on "Collection and processing of data."
Current Population Survey
A comparison of data from the 1960 Census and the March 1959 Current Population Survey on Years of School Completed for persons 25 years old and over shows that the educational level as given in the CPS is higher than it is in the census. For example, the median number of school years completed for the population 25 years old and over is 11.0 in the CPS and 10.6 in the census. Evidence available at the time this text was prepared suggests that the difference between the two sources in the educational attainment of persons 25 and over did not result from differences in reporting Years of School Completed but, rather, from differences between the population statistics by age obtained from the 1960 Census and the corresponding estimates used in the CPS for March 1959. The population estimates by age in the CPS were obtained by updating 1950 Census figures, they excluded members of the Armed Forces living off post and were different in certain other respects from census figures. The CPS figures included relatively more young persons, who are Generally better educated, on the average, and comparatively fewer older persons than the census.
Information on the quality of data on educational attainment for 1960 is available from two sources: (a) Reports of nonresponse rates, and (b) findings from the Content Evaluation Study of the 1960 Census, a postcensal study in which an intensive reinterview approach was used for a sample of census respondents. In this study, measures of response error were developed with respect to selected items of information by comparing and reconciling the responses obtained in the reinterview with the corresponding census entries. (See also the paragraph on "Current Population Survey" in the section on "Comparability.")
About 5 percent of the population 25 years old and over in 1960 did not report on highest grade of school completed (including those who did not report on either the highest grade attended or whether or not it was completed, and those not reporting on one of the items). The level of nonresponse on this subject in 1950 was about the same, when computed on the same basis. (The published nonresponse rate on Years of School Completed for persons 25 years and over in 1950 of 2.7 percent was based only on persons not reporting on highest grade attended. An additional 2 percent did not report on whether or not the grade was completed but did report on highest grade attended.) In 1960, there was another 1.5 percent of the population of all ages for whom no sample information was obtained. There is little information about the characteristics of persons for whom replies on years of schooling were not obtained in 1960. Nonresponse rates were higher for nonwhite than for white persons, higher for older than younger persons, and higher for urban than for rural-nonfarm or rural-farm residents. Since nonresponses on educational attainment were allocated in the census operation, and because information is not likely to become available on the accuracy of the allocation operation, the quantitative effect of nonresponse on the accuracy of the published education data: is not known but is probably small.
According to the Content Evaluation Study of the 1960 Census (CES), there were both considerable gross overstatement and gross understatement of years of schooling. About 16 percent of the population 25 and over in the CES sample reported having completed at least one grade more in the census than in the CES, whereas about 10 percent reported having completed at least one grade lower in the census than in the CES.
Because there was somewhat more overstatement than understatement (viewing the GES as the criterion), there was net overreporting of Years of School Completed for 6 percent of the population 25 years old and over. Corresponding analysis of the 1950 Post-Enumeration Survey shows that the percentages of gross underreporting and gross overreporting were less in 1960 than in 1950 "but the percent of net overreporting was about the same in the two censuses.
The results of the 1960 Content Evaluation Study are not entirely comparable with those of the 1950 Post-Enumeration Survey. In considering comparative results, it should be noted that reported differences in quality may, in part, arise from improvement in procedures in the 1960 evaluation study, changes in accuracy between the 1960 and the 1950 Censuses, or both. For a more comprehensive report of the results of the evaluation studies, the reader is referred to 1960 Census reports in the "Evaluation and Research Series" and to Bureau of the Census Technical Paper No. 4, if, The Post-Enumeration Survey: 1950.
Table A. Selected Measures Of Reporting On Years Of School Completed, Based On The 1950 Census And Post-Enumeration Subset And The 1960 Census And Content Evaluation Study, For The Population 25 Years Old And Over
||Percent of population
|Reporting same grade in census and later survey
|Reporting different grade in census and later survey
|Reporting higher grade in census
|Reporting lower grade in census
|Net reporting higher grade in census
The median is presented in connection with the data on Years of School Completed and income. It is the value which divides the distribution into two equal parts, one-half the cases falling below this value and one-half the cases exceeding this value.
The median number of school years completed was computed after the statistics on Years of School Completed had been converted to a continuous series of numbers (e.g., completion of the 1st year of high school was treated as completion of the 9th year and completion of the 1st year of college as completion of the 13th year). The persons completing a given school year were assumed to be distributed evenly within the interval from .0 to .9 of the year. In fact, at the time of census enumeration (Generally April or May) most of the enrolled persons had completed at least three-fourths of a school year beyond the highest grade completed, whereas a large majority of persons who were not enrolled had not attended any part of a grade beyond the highest one completed. The effect of the assumption is to place the median for younger persons slightly below, and for older persons slightly above, the true median.
The same procedure for computing this median has been used in the 1940, 1950, and 1960 Censuses.
Because of the inexact assumption as to the distribution within an interval, this median is more appropriately used for comparing different groups and the same group at different dates than as an absolute measure of educational attainment.
In General, the urban population comprises all persons living in Urbanized Areas and in places of 2,500 inhabitants or more outside Urbanized Areas. More specifically, according to the definition adopted for use in the 1960 Census, the urban population comprises all persons living in (a) places of 2,500 inhabitants or more incorporated as cities, boroughs, villages, and towns (except towns in New England, New York, and Wisconsin) 5 (b) the densely settled urban fringe, whether incorporated or unincorporated, of Urbanized Areas; (c) towns in New England and townships in New Jersey and Pennsylvania which contain no incorporated municipalities as subdivisions and have either 25,000 inhabitants or more or a population of 2,500 to 25,000 and a density of 1,500 persons or more per square mile; (d) counties in States other than the New England States, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania that have no incorporated municipalities within their boundaries and have a density of 1,500 persons or more per square mile; and (e) unincorporated places of 2,500 inhabitants or more. The population not classified as urban constitutes the rural population.
An Urbanized Area contains at least one city of 50,000 inhabitants or more in 1960 and the surrounding closely settled incorporated places and unincorporated areas that meet certain criteria relating to population density or land use. An Urbanized Area may be thought of as divided into the central city, or cities, and the remainder of the area, or the urban fringe. All persons residing in un Urbanized Area are included in the urban population.
The rural population is subdivided into the rural- farm population, which comprises all rural residents living on farms, and the rural-nonfarm population, which comprises the remaining rural population. In the 1960 Census, the farm population consists of persons living in rural territory on places of 10 or more acres from which sales of farm products amounted to $50 or more in 1959 or on places of less than 10 acres from which sales of farm products amounted to $250 or more in 1959- All persons living in group quarters are classified as nonfarm except the relatively few living in workers' quarters (including quarters for migratory agricultural workers) that are located on a farm or ranch.
The age classification is based on the age of the person in completed years as of April 1, 1960, as determined from the reply to a question on month and year of birth.
The term "color" refers to the division of population into two groups, white and nonwhite. The color group designated as "nonwhite" includes Negroes, American Indians, Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, Koreans, Hawaiians, Asian Indians, Malayans, Eskimos, Aleuts, etc. Persons of Mexican birth or ancestry who are not definitely of Indian or other nonwhite race are classified as white.
This category comprises persons born in the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or a possession of the United States; persons born in a foreign country or at sea who have at least one native American parent; and persons whose place of birth was not reported and whose census report contained no contradictory information, such as an entry of a language spoken prior to coming to the United States.
This category includes all persons not classified as native.
Native of native parentage
This category consists of native persons both of whose parents are also natives of the United States.
Native of foreign or mixed parentage
This category includes native persons one or both of whose parents are foreign born.
This category includes foreign- born persons and native persons of foreign or mixed parentage.
Region of Birth of the Native Population
In this report the native population is classified according to region of birth. This information coupled with region of residence provides data on the geographic origin of the population currently living in each region and on the lifetime movements of the native population from one region to another within the United States from the time of birth to the date of the census.
Region of Origin of the Foreign Stock
Persons of foreign stock are classified according to their country of origin-country of birth for the foreign born and parents' country of birth for the native of foreign or mixed parentage. Natives of foreign parentage whose parents were born in different countries are classified according to the country of birth of the father. Natives of mixed parentage are classified according to the country of birth of the foreign-born parent. The classification by country of origin is based on international boundaries as recognized by the United States Government on April 1, 1960, although there may have been some deviation from the rules where respondents were unaware of changes in boundaries or jurisdiction.
The classification embraces six groups of countries, representing three groups of European stock, one of Latin American stock, one of combined Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand stock, and a sixth group for stock from the remaining areas of the world. A list of the countries included in each grouping is given below:
|Northern or Western Europe|
|Central or Eastern Europe |
|Southern Europe |
|Malta and Gozo|
|San Marino |
|Europe (Country not specified)|
|Mexico, Central or South America|
|Central America |
|British Honduras |
|El Salvador |
|Costa Rico |
|The West Indies (Federation) |
|Dominican Republic |
|Other West Indies|
|South America |
|Canada, Australia, and New Zealand|
|Southwest Asia |
|United Arab Republic |
|Other Southwest Asia|
|Philippine Islands |
|Other Asia |
|Northern Africa |
|Union of South Africa |
|Other Atlantic Islands |
|Trust Territories (U.S. Administration)|
|Other Pacific Islands |
|Country not specified|
This classification refers to the Marital Status of the person at the time of enumeration. Persons classified as "married" comprise, therefore, both those who have been married only once and those who remarried after having been widowed or divorced. Persons reported as separated (either legally separated or otherwise absent from the spouse because of marital discord) are classified as a subcategory of married persons. The enumerators were instructed to report persons in common-law marriages as married and persons whose only marriage had been annulled as single.
The number of married men may be different from the number of married women for an area because of the absence of husbands or wives from the country, because the husband and wife have different places of residence, because of the methods used to inflate the sample data, or for other reasons.
A married person with "spouse present" is a man or woman whose spouse was enumerated as a member of the same household even though he or she may have been temporarily absent on business or vacation, visiting, in a hospital, etc., at the time of enumeration.
An own child is defined here as a single (never married) son, daughter, stepchild, or adopted child of the person in question. This report presents data on women by presence of Own Children.
The data on employment status relate to the calendar week prior to the date on which the respondents filled their Household Questionnaires or were interviewed by enumerators. This week is not the same for all respondents because not all persons were enumerated during the same week.
Employed persons comprise all civilians 14-years old and over who were either (a) "at work" -those who did any work for pay or profit, or worked without pay for 15 hours or more on a family farm or in a family business; or (b) were "with a job but not at work" - those who did not work and were not looking for work but had a job or business from which they were temporarily absent because of bad weather, industrial dispute, vacation, illness, or other personal reasons.
Persons are classified as unemployed if they were years old and over and not "at work" but looking for work. A person is considered as looking for work not only if he actually tried to find work but also if he had made such efforts recently (i.e., within the past 60 days) and was awaiting the results of these efforts. Persons waiting to be called back to a job from which they had been laid off or furloughed are also counted as unemployed. Unemployed persons who have worked at any time in the past are classified as the "experienced unemployed."
The "civilian labor force" includes all persons classified as employed or unemployed, as described above. The "labor force" also includes members of the Armed Forces (persons on active duty with the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard). The "experienced civilian labor force" comprises the employed and the experienced unemployed.
Persons "not in the labor force" comprise all those 14 years old and over who are not classified as members of the labor force, including persons doing only incidental unpaid family work (less than 15 hours during the week).
The data on occupation in this report are for the experienced civilian labor force and refer to the jot held by the employed during the week for which employment status was reported or the last job held by the experienced unemployed. For persons employed at two or more jobs, the data refer to the job at which the person worked the greatest number of hours. The occupation statistics presented here are based on the detailed systems developed for the 1960 Census; see 1960 Census of Population, Classified Index of Occupations and Industries, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1960.
Information on income for the calendar year 1959 was requested from all persons 14 years old and over in the sample. "Total income" is the sum of amounts reported separately for wage or salary income, self-employment income, and other income. Wage or salary income is defined as the total money earnings received for work performed as an employee. It represents the amount received before deductions for personal income taxes, Social Security, bond purchases, union dues, etc. Self-employment income is defined as net money income (gross receipts minus operating expenses) from a business, farm, or professional enterprise in which the person was engaged on his own account. Earnings are obtained by summing wage or salary income and self-employment income. Other income includes money income received from such sources as net rents, interest, dividends, Social Security benefits, pensions, veterans' payments, unemployment insurance, and public assistance or other governmental payments, and periodic receipts from insurance policies or annuities, Not included as income are money received from the sale of property (unless the recipient was engaged in the business of selling such property), the value of income "in kind," withdrawals of bank deposits, money borrowed, tax refunds, and gifts and lump-sum inheritances or insurance payments.