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Decennial Census Data on Language Use

The Decennial Census occurs every 10 years, in years ending in zero, to count the population and housing units for the entire United States. Its primary purpose is to provide the population counts that determine how seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are apportioned.

Data about language were collected during the 1980, 1990, and 2000 decennial censuses using what is known as the "long form." These questions were asked of a sample of persons and housing units (approximately 1 in 6 households).

Data Tables, Products, and Reports

Census 2000

1990 Census

Available Tabulations

Decennial census tables on languages spoken at home and English-speaking ability are available from American FactFinder  Link to a non-federal Web site for the 1990 Census and for Census 2000.

Tabulations from the most recent and historical censuses are also available from the Census of Population and Housing Publications Web site.

Other Technical and Analytical Reports

Comparison of the Estimates on Language Use and English-Speaking Ability from the ACS, the C2SS, and Census 2000 
  • Report and Tables [PDF - [an error occurred while processing this directive]] , by Hyon B. Shin.

Related Papers and Presentations

Language Use and Linguistic Isolation: Historical Data and Methodological Issues  Paul Siegel, Elizabeth Martin, and Rosalind Bruno. Presented at the FCSM Statistical Policy Seminar, Bethesda, MD, November 8-9, 2000
  • Report [PDF - 222K] , by Paul Siegel, Elizabeth Martin, and Rosalind Bruno.
Historical Census Statistics on the Foreign Born Population of the United States: 1850-1990  Campbell J. Gibson and Emily Lennon, Population Division Working Paper No. 29, February 1999
  • Report, by Campbell J. Gibson and Emily Lennon.
How Good is 'How Well'? An Examination of the Census English-Speaking Ability Question  Robert Kominski. Presented at the 1989 Annual Meeting of the American Statistical Association, Washington, D.C., August 6-11, 1989
  • Report [PDF - 585K] , by Robert Kominski.

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Language Use |  Last Revised: 2013-06-18T10:43:06.811-04:00