Technical Note on Comparing Statistics on Same-Sex-Couple Households Between the 2010 Census and the American Community Survey
Tabulations from the 2010 Census Summary File 1 present detailed geographical information on the number of same-sex unmarried-couple households. This number combines those who initially reported that they were spouses of the householder and those who were unmarried partners of the householder. Tables PCT15 and PCT17 in Summary File 1 show the presence of children in the household. In the Same-Sex-Couple Households Summary File, released after Summary File 1, an additional table further specifies if the partner of the householder reported that he or she was the spouse of the householder. This is the first time such detailed data have been released from any decennial census. Since 2005, statistics on characteristics of same-sex-couple households-both for those identified as spouses and as unmarried partners-have been released from the American Community Survey (ACS).1
The American Community Survey is a nationally representative household survey of 3 million households that contains detailed social, economic, and housing items formerly contained on the long or sample form of the decennial census. Data users are advised not to make comparisons of estimated numbers of same-sex-couple households between the ACS and the 2010 Census because of differences in data collection procedures. Although the majority of both ACS and census returns were collected via mail, differences occur in the data collection instruments for the households not responding by mail. For the 2010 Census, individual enumerators were sent out to the nonresponding households and were administered a paper form for Nonresponse Follow-Up (NRFU). The ACS did not employ a paper form for follow-up but collected the information in person using a laptop computer (CAPI) or by telephone using a computerized instrument (CATI). These instruments had a key collection component that was absent from the paper form. When an interviewer recorded that a household was headed by a same-sex spouse, a message in a pop-up box appeared on the instrument screen that prompted the interviewer to verify the responses to the relationship and the gender items. Previous Census Bureau research has demonstrated the sensitivity of same-sex-couple estimates to different data collection procedures.2
Subsequent analysis of 2010 Census data on same-sex-couple households will be forthcoming and will address any differences noted between the 2010 Census and the ACS in the estimates of same-sex-couple households.
See the tables under the ”Same-Sex Couples ” heading at www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hh-fam.html/
See Martin O’Connell, Daphne Lofquist, Tavia Simmons, and Terry Lugaila, New Estimates of Same-Sex Couple Households From the American Community Survey, April 2010, www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hh-fam/SSnew-estimates.pdf