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Data Dictionary: Census 1990
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Survey: Census 1990
Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Table: P59. Educational Attainment For Hispanic Population [8]
Universe: Persons of Hispanic origin 25 years and over
Table Details
P59. Educational Attainment For Hispanic Population
Universe: Persons of Hispanic origin 25 years and over
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.
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.

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.
Hispanic Origin
The data on Spanish/Hispanic origin were derived from answers to questionnaire item 7, which was asked of all persons. Persons of Hispanic origin are those who classified themselves in one of the specific Hispanic origin categories listed on the questionnaire--"Mexican," "Puerto Rican," or "Cuban"--as well as those who indicated that they were of "other Spanish/Hispanic" origin. Persons of "Other Spanish/Hispanic" origin are those whose origins are from Spain, the Spanish-speaking countries of Central or South America, or the Dominican Republic, or they are persons of Hispanic origin identifying themselves generally as Spanish, Spanish-American, Hispanic, Hispano, Latino, and so on. Write-in responses to the "other Spanish/Hispanic" category were coded only for sample data.

Origin can be viewed as the ancestry, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person's parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

Some tabulations are shown by the Hispanic origin of the householder. In all cases where households, families, or occupied housing units are classified by Hispanic origin, the Hispanic origin of the householder is used. (See the discussion of householder under "Household Type and Relationship.")

During direct interviews conducted by enumerators, if a person could not provide a single origin response, he or she was asked to select, based on self-identification, the group which best described his or her origin or descent. If a person could not provide a single group, the origin of the person's mother was used. If a single group could not be provided for the person's mother, the first origin reported by the person was used.

If any household member failed to respond to the Spanish/Hispanic origin question, a response was assigned by the computer according to the reported entries of other household members by using specific rules of precedence of household relationship. In the processing of sample questionnaires, responses to other questions on the questionnaire, such as ancestry and place of birth, were used to assign an origin before any reference was made to the origin reported by other household members. If an origin was not entered for any household member, an origin was assigned from another household according to the race of the householder. This procedure is a variation of the general imputation process described in Appendix C, Accuracy of the Data.

There may be differences between the total Hispanic origin population based on 100-percent tabulations and sample tabulations. Such differences are the result of sampling variability, nonsampling error, and more extensive edit procedures for the Spanish/Hispanic origin item on the sample questionnaires. (For more information on sampling variability and nonsampling error, see Appendix C, Accuracy of the Data.)

The 1990 data on Hispanic origin are generally comparable with those for the 1980 census. However, there are some differences in the format of the Hispanic origin question between the two censuses. For 1990, the word "descent" was deleted from the 1980 wording. In addition, the term "Mexican-Amer." used in 1980 was shortened further to "Mexican-Am." to reduce misreporting (of "American") in this category detected in the 1980 census. Finally, the 1990 question allowed those who reported as "other Spanish/Hispanic" to write in their specific Hispanic origin group.

Misreporting in the "Mexican-Amer." category of the 1980 census item on Spanish/Hispanic origin may affect the comparability of 1980 and 1990 census data for persons of Hispanic origin for certain areas of the country. An evaluation of the 1980 census item on Spanish/Hispanic origin indicated that there was misreporting in the Mexican origin category by White and Black persons in certain areas. The study results showed evidence that the misreporting occurred in the South (excluding Texas), the Northeast (excluding the New York City area), and a few States in the Midwest Region. Also, results based on available data suggest that the impact of possible misreporting of Mexican origin in the 1980 census was severe in those portions of the above-mentioned regions where the Hispanic origin population was generally sparse. However, national 1980 census data on the Mexican origin population or total Hispanic origin population at the national level was not seriously affected by the reporting problem. (For a more detailed discussion of the evaluation of the 1980 census Spanish/Hispanic origin item, see the 1980 census Supplementary Reports.)

The 1990 and 1980 census data on the Hispanic population are not directly comparable with 1970 Spanish origin data because of a number of factors: (1) overall improvements in the 1980 and 1990 censuses, (2) better coverage of the population, (3) improved question designs, and (4) an effective public relations campaign by the Census Bureau with the assistance of national and community ethnic groups.

Specific changes in question design between the 1980 and 1970 censuses included the placement of the category "No, not Spanish/Hispanic" as the first category in that question. (The corresponding category appeared last in the 1970 question.) Also, the 1970 category "Central or South American" was deleted because in 1970 some respondents misinterpreted the category; furthermore, the designations "Mexican-American" and "Chicano" were added to the Spanish/Hispanic origin question in 1980. In the 1970 census, the question on Spanish origin was asked of only a 5-percent sample of the population.