The definitions and explanations found in reports in the Current Population Reports series issued by the Census Bureau are largely drawn from various technical and procedural materials used in the collection of data in the Current Population Survey. The concepts defined below generally refer to current definitions. For reports based on earlier surveys, especially those published before 1990, the user should consult the printed reports for those years. As reports and surveys continue to evolve, definitions may also alter to accommodate these changes. We will alert users to significant changes in the concepts presented in the reports released on the Internet to enable them to accurately interpret the data for historical comparisons.
Data on award of child support payments were collected from people 15 years or older with children under 21 years of age whose other parent was not living in the household. Information on recipiency and amount of payments was obtained from people who reported that they were awarded or had agreements to receive child support payments.
>Reason for nonaward of child support.
Final agreement pending: A child support agreement was awaiting final court, magisterial, or legal action before becoming final, and/or a voluntary written agreement was not yet final.
Joint custody granted: Housing, care, and support of the child(ren) was shared by both parents; therefore, no money or other support was exchanged.
Did not want child support: The custodial parent indicated he/she did not want child support for own child(ren).
Unable to locate other parent: Child support was desired, but the child(ren)’s noncustodial parent could not be located.
Unable to establish paternity: Child support arrangements could not be made because the child(ren)’s paternity could not be established.
Some other reason: The custodial parent wanted child support, and the reason for nonaward did not fit any of the reasons listed above.
Inclusion of health insurance in child support award.
This item refers to whether the child(ren)’s noncustodial parent had made health insurance arrangements for his/her child(ren) as part of the child support award. Arrangements for health insurance could have been made by the noncustodial parent purchasing a separate policy for the child(ren) or including the child(ren) under the health insurance provided by his/her employer. In either event, the purchase of, or inclusion of, health insurance must be part of the child support agreement. Insurance taken out by the custodial parent but paid for from child support payment by the noncustodial parent is not included.
Type of child support arrangement.
Voluntary written agreement: Voluntary written agreements between the parties. This agreement may or may not have been recognized by the courts as part of the divorce or separation proceedings. This type of agreement was not ordered by the courts.
Court ordered: Payments ordered by the court. Court-ordered payments usually take place when a mutually acceptable agreement cannot be worked out between the parties.
Other: Arrangements not within either of the two cases above. This category includes informal verbal agreements.
The term "children," as used in tables on living arrangements of children under 18, are all persons under 18 years, excluding people who maintain households, families, or subfamilies as a reference person or spouse.
Own children in a family are sons and daughters, including stepchildren and adopted children, of the householder. Similarly, "own" children in a subfamily are sons and daughters of the married couple or parent in the subfamily. (All children shown as members of related subfamilies are own children of the person(s) maintaining the subfamily.) For each type of family unit identified in the CPS, the count of "own children under 18 years old" is limited to never-married children; however, "own children under 25" and "own children of any age," as the terms are used here, include all children regardless of marital status. The counts include never-married children living away from home in college dormitories.
Related children in a family include own children and all other children under 18 years old in the household who are related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption. The count of related children in families was formerly restricted to never-married children. However, beginning with data for 1968 the Bureau of the Census includes ever-married children under the category of related children. This change added approximately 20,000 children to the category of related children in March 1968.
The question "How many babies has...ever had, if any? (Do not count stillbirths)" is asked of all women 15 to 44 years old. When asking about children ever born, interviewers are instructed to include children born to the women before her present marriage, children no longer living, and children away from home as well as children who are still living in the home. It is possible that some never-married mothers living with one or more of their natural children reported themselves as having been married. In addition, many mothers who first married after the birth of one or more children counted those children, as they were expected to do. Nevertheless, data are probably less complete for births out of wedlock than for births within marriage.
The college enrollment statistics are based on replies to the interviewer’s inquiry as to whether the person was attending or enrolled in school and the grade or school or year of college. Interviewers were instructed to count as enrolled anyone who had been enrolled at any time during the current term or school year, except those who have left for the remainder of the term. Thus, regular college enrollment includes those people attending a 4-year or 2-year college, university, or professional school (such as medical or law school) in courses that may advance the student toward a recognized college or university degree (e.g., BA or MA). Attendance may be either full time or part time, during the day or night. The college student need not be working toward a degree, but he/she must be enrolled in a class for which credit would be applied toward a degree. (see "school enrollment"). Students are classified by year of college, based on the academic year (not calendar year) they are attending. Undergraduate years are the 1st through 4th year, or freshman through senior. Graduate or professional school years include the 5th year and higher.
Two-year and four-year colleges: College students were asked to report whether the college in which they were enrolled was a 2-year college (junior or community college) or a 4-year college or university. Students enrolled in the first 4 years (undergraduates) were classified by the type of college they reported. Graduate students are shown as a separate group.
Attendance, full-time and part-time. College students were classified according to whether they were attending school on a full-time or part-time basis. A student was regarded as attending college full time if he/she was taking 12 or more hours of classes during the average school week, and part time if he/she was taking less than 12 hours of classes during the average school week.
There are five categories of citizenship status: 1) Born in the United States; 2) Born in Puerto Rico or another outlying area of the U.S.; 3) Born abroad of U.S. citizen parents; 4) Naturalized citizens; 5) Non-citizens. Place of birth was asked for every household member in the CPS sample, and for the parents of every household member. People born in the U.S. or it’s outlying areas, or whose parents were born in the U.S. or it’s outlying areas, were not asked citizenship questions. Citizenship status (1), (2), or (3) was assigned during the editing phase of data preparation based on the place of birth of the household member, or the place of birth of his or her parents. People born outside the U.S. and it’s outlying areas, and whose parents were born outside the U.S. and it’s outlying areas, were asked, "Are you a citizen of the United States." ‘Yes’ answers were assigned to the naturalized citizen category (4) and ‘No’ answers were assigned to the "Not a citizen" category (5) during the editing process. People for whom no birthplace was provided were assigned a citizenship status during the editing process. For example, the citizenship status of a child might have been assigned based on the citizenship status of it’s mother.
Birth place codes available in the CPS include; one code for the United States (fifty states and Washington DC); one code for Puerto Rico; one code for all other outlying areas of the United States (American Samoa, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Marinas, etc.); separate codes for 100 individual foreign countries or areas; residual codes for other cases (At Sea, etc.). People for whom no birthplace was provided were assigned a birthplace during the editing process based on several criteria. For example, the birthplace of a child might have been assigned based on the birthplace of it’s mother and/or father.
People born outside the United States (see Country of Birth) were asked the year they came to the United States to live. Persons in citizenship categories (2) to (5) (see Citizenship Status) for whom no year of entry was reported were assigned a value for "Year of Entry" during the editing process based on other reported information.
The Census Bureau classifies earnings from longest job (or self-employment) and other employment earnings into three types:
Data on educational attainment are derived from a single question that asks, "What is the highest grade of school...has completed, or the highest degree...has received?"
The single educational attainment question now in use was introduced in the CPS beginning January 1992, and is similar to that used in the 1990 Decennial Census of Population and Housing. Consequently, data on educational attainment from the 1992 CPS are not directly comparable to CPS data from earlier years. The new question replaces the previous two-part question used in the CPS that asked respondents to report the highest grade they had attended, and whether or not they had completed that grade.
The questions on educational attainment apply only to progress in "regular" schools. Such schools include graded public, private, and parochial elementary and high schools (both junior and senior high schools), colleges, universities, and professional schools, whether day schools or night schools. Thus, regular schooling is that which may advance a person toward an elementary school certificate or high school diploma, or a college, university, or professional school degree. Schooling in other than regular schools was counted only if the credits obtained are regarded as transferable to a school in the regular school system.
Employed people are those who, during the reference week (a) did any work at all (for at least 1 hour) as paid employees; worked in their own businesses, professions, or on their own farms; or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a family member or (b) were not working, but who had a job or business from which they were temporarily absent because of vacation, illness, bad weather, childcare problems, maternity or paternity leave, labor-management dispute, job training, or other family or personal reasons whether or not they were paid for the time off or were seeking other jobs. Each employed person is counted only once, even if he or she holds more than one job.
Employed citizens of foreign countries who are temporarily in the United States but not living on the premises of an embassy are included. Excluded are people whose only activity consisted of work around their own house (painting, repairing, cleaning, or other home-related housework) or volunteer work for religious, charitable, or other organizations.
People of Hispanic origin were identified by a question that asked for self-identification of the persons’ origin or descent. Respondents were asked to select their origin (and the origin of other household members) from a "flash card" listing ethnic origins. People of Hispanic origin, in particular, were those who indicated that their origin was Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or some other Hispanic origin. It should be noted that people of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
People who were Non-Hispanic White origin, were identified by crossing the responses to two self-identification questions: (1) origin or descent and (2) race. Respondents were asked to select their race (and the race of other household members) from a "flash card" listing racial groups. Beginning with March 1989, the population is divided into five groups on the basis of race: White, Black, American Indian, Eskimo or Aleut, Asian or Pacific Islander, and Other races. The last category includes any other race except the four mentioned. Respondents who selected their race as White and indicated that their origin was not one of the Hispanic origin subgroups Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, were called Non-Hispanic White origin.
A family is a group of two people or more (one of whom is the householder) related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together; all such people (including related subfamily members) are considered as members of one family. Beginning with the 1980 Current Population Survey, unrelated subfamilies (referred to in the past as secondary families) are no longer included in the count of families, nor are the members of unrelated subfamilies included in the count of family members. The number of families is equal to the number of family households, however, the count of family members differs from the count of family household members because family household members include any non-relatives living in the household.
A family group is any two or more people (not necessarily including a householder) residing together, and related by birth, marriage, or adoption. A household may be composed of one such group, more than one, or none at all. The count of family groups includes family households, related subfamilies, and unrelated subfamilies.
A family household is a household maintained by a householder who is in a family (as defined above), and includes any unrelated people (unrelated subfamily members and/or secondary individuals) who may be residing there. The number of family households is equal to the number of families. The count of family household members differs from the count of family members, however, in that the family household members include all people living in the household, whereas family members include only the householder and his/her relatives. See the definition of family.
As of 1983, group quarters were defined in the current population survey as noninstitutional living arrangements for groups not living in conventional housing units or groups living in housing units containing ten or more unrelated people or nine or more people unrelated to the person in charge. (Prior to 1983, group quarters included housing units containing five or more people unrelated to the person in charge.) Examples of people in group quarters include a person residing in staff quarters at a hospital, or in a halfway house. Beginning in 1972, inmates of institutions have not been included in the Current Population Survey.
A person was considered covered by health insurance at some time during the year if he or she was covered by at least one of the following types of coverages:
2. Own Employment-based
3. Direct purchase (through private company or exchange)
6. Military health care (TRICARE, CHAMPVA, VA)
7. CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program
An individual can have more than one type of coverage during the year.
Definitions of the major types of health insurance coverage are available in the health insurance section.
A household consists of all the people who occupy a housing unit. A house, an apartment or other group of rooms, or a single room, is regarded as a housing unit when it is occupied or intended for occupancy as separate living quarters; that is, when the occupants do not live with any other persons in the structure and there is direct access from the outside or through a common hall.
A household includes the related family members and all the unrelated people, if any, such as lodgers, foster children, wards, or employees who share the housing unit. A person living alone in a housing unit, or a group of unrelated people sharing a housing unit such as partners or roomers, is also counted as a household. The count of households excludes group quarters. There are two major categories of households, "family" and "nonfamily". (See definitions of Family household and Nonfamily household).
The term "size of household" includes all the people occupying a housing unit. "Size of family" includes the family householder and all other people in the living quarters who are related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption. "Size of related subfamily" includes the husband and wife or the lone parent and their never-married sons and daughters under 18 years of age. "Size of unrelated subfamily" includes the reference person and all other members related to the reference person. If a family has a related subfamily among its members, the size of the family includes the members of the related subfamily.
The householder refers to the person (or one of the people) in whose name the housing unit is owned or rented (maintained) or, if there is no such person, any adult member, excluding roomers, boarders, or paid employees. If the house is owned or rented jointly by a married couple, the householder may be either the husband or the wife. The person designated as the householder is the "reference person" to whom the relationship of all other household members, if any, is recorded.
The number of householders is equal to the number of households. Also, the number of family householders is equal to the number of families.
Head versus householder. Beginning with the 1980 CPS, the Bureau of the Census discontinued the use of the terms "head of household" and "head of family." Instead, the terms "householder" and "family householder" are used. Recent social changes have resulted in greater sharing of household responsibilities among the adult members and, therefore, have made the term "head" increasingly inappropriate in the analysis of household and family data. Specifically, beginning in 1980, the Census Bureau discontinued its longtime practice of always classifying the husband as the reference person (head) when he and his wife are living together.
For each person in the sample 15 years old and over, the CPS asks questions on the amount of money income received in the preceding calendar year from each of the following sources:
It should be noted that although the income statistics refer to receipts during the preceding calendar year, the demographic characteristics, such as age, labor force status, and family or household composition, are as of the survey date. The income of the family/household does not include amounts received by people who were members during all or part of the income year if these people no longer resided in the family/household at the time of interview. However, the CPS collects income data for people who are current residents but did not reside in the household during the income year.
Data on consumer income collected in the CPS by the Census Bureau cover money income received (exclusive of certain money receipts such as capital gains) before payments for personal income taxes, social security, union dues, medicare deductions, etc. Therefore, money income does not reflect the fact that some families receive part of their income in the form of noncash benefits, such as food stamps, health benefits, rent-free housing, and goods produced and consumed on the farm. In addition, money income does not reflect the fact that noncash benefits are also received by some nonfarm residents which often take the form of the use of business transportation and facilities, full or partial payments by business for retirement programs, medical and educational expenses, etc. Data users should consider these elements when comparing income levels. Moreover, readers should be aware that for many different reasons there is a tendency in household surveys for respondents to underreport their income. Based on an analysis of independently derived income estimates, the Census Bureau determined that respondents report income earned from wages or salaries much better than other sources of income and that the reported wage and salary income is nearly equal to independent estimates of aggregate income.
For more information and the definitions of the source incomes, please refer to Appendix A, Definitions and Explanations, from the Current Population Reports, Consumer Income, P60-200 [PDF - 30K] .
Income-to-poverty ratios represent the ratio of family or unrelated individual income to their appropriate poverty threshold. Ratios below 1.00 indicate that the income for the respective family or unrelated individual is below the official definition of poverty, while a ratio of 1.00 or greater indicates income above the poverty level. A ratio of 1.25, for example, indicates that income was 125 percent above the appropriate poverty threshold.
Gini ratio. The Gini ratio (or index of income concentration) is a statistical measure of income equality ranging from 0 to 1. A measure of 1 indicates perfect inequality; i.e., one person has all the income and rest have none. A measure of 0 indicates perfect equality; i.e., all people have equal shares of income. The Census Bureau used grouped data to compute all Gini ratios. For a more detailed discussion, see Current Population Reports, Series P-60, No. 123.
The marital status classification identifies four major categories: never married, married, widowed, and divorced. These terms refer to the marital status at the time of the enumeration.
The category "married" is further divided into "married, spouse present," "separated," and "other married, spouse absent." A person was classified as "married, spouse present" if the husband or wife was reported as a member of the household, even though he or she may have been temporarily absent on business or on vacation, visiting, in a hospital, etc., at the time of the enumeration. People reported as separated included those with legal separations, those living apart with intentions of obtaining a divorce, and other people permanently or temporarily separated because of marital discord. The group "other married, spouse absent" includes married people living apart because either the husband or wife was employed and living at a considerable distance from home, was serving away from home in the Armed Forces, had moved to another area, or had a different place of residence for any other reason except separation as defined above.
Single, when used as a marital status category, is the sum of never-married, widowed, and divorced people. "Single," when used in the context of "single-parent family/household," means only one parent is present in the home. The parent may be never-married, widowed, divorced, or married, spouse absent.
The estimated median age at first marriage, is an approximation derived indirectly from tabulations of marital status and age. In computing this median, several steps are involved. First, the expected proportion of young people who will ever marry during their lifetime is computed. Second, one-half of this expected proportion is calculated. And third, the current age of young people who are at this halfway mark is computed. From the assumptions made and the procedures used, it follows that the date of the survey is also the date when this halfway mark is reached. Half of the young people of the given age who will ever get married had done so prior to the survey date and half are expected to marry in years to come.
A married couple, as defined for census purposes, is a husband and wife enumerated as members of the same household. The married couple may or may not have children living with them. The expression "husband-wife" or "married-couple" before the term "household," "family," or "subfamily" indicates that the household, family, or subfamily is maintained by a husband and wife. The number of married couples equals the count of married-couple families plus related and unrelated married-couple subfamilies.
Mean (average) income is the amount obtained by dividing the total aggregate income of a group by the number of units in that group. The means for households, families, and unrelated individuals are based on all households, families, and unrelated individuals, respectively. The means (averages) for people are based on people 15 years old and over with income.
Median income is the amount which divides the income distribution into two equal groups, half having incomes above the median, half having incomes below the median. The medians for households, families, and unrelated individuals are based on all households, families, and unrelated individuals, respectively. The medians for people are based on people 15 years old and over with income.
The general concept of a metropolitan area (MA) is one of a large population nucleus, together with adjacent communities that have a high degree of economic and social integration with that nucleus. Some MA’s are defined around two or more nuclei.
The MA classification is a statistical standard, developed for use by Federal agencies in the production, analysis, and publication of data on MA’s. The MA’s are designated and defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget, following a set of official published standards. These standards were developed by the interagency Federal Executive Committee on Metropolitan Areas, with the aim of producing definitions that are as consistent as possible for all MA’s nationwide.
Each MA must contain either a place with a minimum population of 50,000 or a Census Bureau-defined urbanized area and a total MA population of at least 100,000 (75,000 in New England). An MA is comprised of one or more central counties, and an MA may also include one or more outlying counties that have closed economic and social relationships with the central county. An outlying county must have a specified level of commuting to the central counties and also must meet certain standards regarding metropolitan character, such as population density, urban population, and population growth. In New England, MA’s are composed of cities and towns rather than whole counties.
The territory, population, and housing units in MA’s are referred to as "metropolitan." The metropolitan category is subdivided into "inside central city" and "outside central city." The territory, population, and housing units located outside MA’s are referred to as "nonmetropolitan."
To meet the needs of various users, the standards provide for a flexible structure of metropolitan definitions that classify an MA either as a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) or as a consolidated metropolitan statistical area (CMSA) that is divided into primary metropolitan statistical areas (PMSA’s). Documentation of the MA standards and how they are applied is available from the Secretary, Federal Executive Committee on Metropolitan Areas, Population Division, U.S. Bureau of the Census, Washington, DC 20233.
Central city. In each MSA and CMSA, the largest place and, in some cases, additional places are designated as "central cities" under the official standards. A few PMSA’s do not have central cities. The largest central city and, in some cases, up to two additional central cities are included in the title of the MA; there are also central cities that are not included in an MA title. An MA central city does not include any part of that city that extends outside the MA boundary.
Consolidated and primary metropolitan statistical area. If an area that qualifies as an MA has more than one million people, primary metropolitan statistical areas (PMSA’s) may be defined within it. PMSA’s consist of a large urbanized county or cluster of counties that demonstrates very strong internal economic and social links, in addition to close ties to other portions of the larger area. When PMSA’s are established, the larger area of which they are component parts is designated a consolidated metropolitan statistical area (CMSA).
Metropolitan statistical area. Metropolitan statistical areas are relatively freestanding MA’s and are not closely associated with other MA’s. These areas are typically surrounded by nonmetropolitan counties.
In cases where complete mobility information is not reported, these people missing mobility data are assigned the mobility status and/or previous residence obtained for other family or household members, or are otherwise allocated, usually using the data for another sample person who did respond to the questions. The mobility status and previous residence allocated to a nonrespondent is usually obtained from another person with similar demographic characteristics who has been selected systematically in the order in which individual records are processed. Characteristics used in these allocations (when assignment of data for other family or household members is not possible) include age, race, and division of current residence. State of previous residence is used instead of state of current residence if the individual being allocated data reported state of previous residence but not city or county.
The one-year migration universe only includes persons at least one year of age on the survey date. One-year migration data are collected annually. Similarly, the five-year migration universe only includes persons at least five years of age on the survey date. Five-year migration data are only collected in years ending in 0 or 5. The survey only includes persons currently living in the United States, so there are no estimates of movers from the United States to locations abroad (including Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories). (See the section, "Migration, Allocations of Data" for a discussion of the allocation of mobility data for people for whom no response or only partial responses to the mobility questions were given.)
Migration status (one-year) is derived from answers to questions about residence one year before the survey date and the geographic location of the respondent’s current residence. One-year migration data are collected annually. Similarly, five-year migration status is based on residence five years ago compared to current residence. Five-year migration data are only collected in years ending in 0 or 5. See information about the migration universe above. Nonmovers are defined as having the same previous residence and current residence. (It is possible that nonmovers lived in a different residence for a period of time between the previous and current residences.) Movers are defined as having a different previous residence than current residence. (It is possible that movers moved more than once between their previous and current residences.) Movers are further classified as to whether they were living in the same or different county, state, region, or moved from abroad. Movers are also categorized by whether they moved within or between principal cities of metropolitan areas, balances of metropolitan areas, and nonmetropolitan areas of the United States.
Reasons for moving are collected for movers over the past year (one-year migration data only; not collected for five-year migration data). Persons who moved with the householder are assigned the reason of the householder. For cases selecting one of the four “other” categories (other family-related reason, other employment-related reason, other housing reason, and other reasons) write-ins are collected, allowing them to be potentially be recoded.
Reasons for moving.
Change in marital status: Moved because of family formation or dissolution resulting in a change in legal marital status classification to one of the following categories: married, widowed, separated or divorced.
To establish own household: Moved out of an existing household in order to establish a separate one.
Other family reason (specify): All other reasons not listed above that are family-related.
New job or job transfer: Moved because of a new job or location of existing job moved. This includes military transfers.
To look for work or lost job: Moved in order to find work or due to a loss of employment.
To be closer to work/easier commute: Moved to be closer to their work and/or reduce their commuting time or effort.
Retired: Moved after retirement from a job.
Other job related reason (specify): All other reasons not listed above that are employment-related.
Wanted to own home, not rent: Moved because wanted to own their home and not rent a house or apartment.
Wanted newer/better/larger house or apartment: Moved because they wanted a newer/better/larger house or apartment.
Wanted better neighborhood/less crime: Moved to a better neighborhood and/or moved to an area with less crime.
Wanted cheaper housing: Moved to a cheaper/less expensive house or apartment.
Foreclosure/eviction: Moved due to a foreclosure or eviction.
Other housing reason (specify): All other reasons not listed above that are housing-related.
Relationship with unmarried partner (boy/girlfriend, fiancé, etc.): Moved to be with an unmarried partner or for other reasons related to an unmarried partner.
To attend or leave college: Moved to a different place of residence to attend college, or left their college residence to return to a previous place of residence or move elsewhere.
Change of climate: Moved to a more preferable climate (i.e., weather patterns).
Health reasons: Moved based on one’s own health or that of another person (e.g., spouse).
Natural disaster (hurricane, tornado, etc.): Moved due to a natural disaster.
Other reason (specify): All other reasons not listed.
The universe for the CPS includes the civilian noninstitutional population of the United States and members of the Armed Forces in the United States living off post or with their families on post, but excludes all other members of the Armed Forces. The information on the Hispanic population from the CPS was collected in the 50 States and the District of Columbia and, therefore, does not include residents of outlying areas or U.S. territories such as Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
Following the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB’s) Directive 14, the Census Bureau uses a set of money income thresholds that vary by family size and composition to detect who is poor. If a family’s total income is less than that family’s threshold, then that family, and every individual in it, is considered poor. The poverty thresholds do not vary geographically, but they are updated annually for inflation with the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U). The official poverty definition counts money income before taxes and excludes capital gains and noncash benefits (such as public housing, medicaid, and food stamps).
Poverty statistics are based on a definition developed by Mollie Orshansky of the Social Security Administration (SSA)in 1964 1 For a detailed discussion of the original SSA poverty thresholds, see Mollie Orshansky, Counting the Poor: Another Look at the Poverty Profile, Social Security Bulletin, vol. 28, no. 1, January 1965, pp. 3-29 (reprinted in Social Security Bulletin, vol. 51, no. 10, October 1988, pp. 25-51); and Who’s Who Among the Poor: A Demographic View of Poverty, Social Security Bulletin, vol. 28, no. 7, July 1965, pp. 3-32. and revised in 1969 and 1981 by interagency committees. This definition was established as the official definition of poverty for statistical use in all Executive departments by the Bureau of the Budget (BoB) in 1969 (in Circular No. A-46); after BoB became The Office of Management and Budget, this was reconfirmed in Statistical Policy Directive No. 14.
The original poverty definition provided a range of income cutoffs or thresholds adjusted by such factors as family size, sex of the family head, number of children under 18 years old, and farm-nonfarm residence. At the core of this definition of poverty was the economy food plan, the least costly of four nutritionally adequate food plans designed by the Department of Agriculture. It was determined from the Department of Agriculture’s 1955 Household Food Consumption Survey that families of three or more people spent approximately one-third of their after-tax money income on food; accordingly, poverty thresholds for families of three or more people were set at three times the cost of the economy food plan. Different procedures were used to calculate poverty thresholds for two-person families and people living alone in order to compensate for the relatively larger fixed expenses of these smaller units. For two-person families, the cost of the economy food plan was multiplied by a factor of 3.7 (also derived from the 1955 survey). For unrelated individuals (one-person units), no multiplier was used; poverty thresholds were instead calculated as a fixed proportion of the corresponding thresholds for two-person units. Annual updates of these SSA poverty thresholds were based on price changes of the items in the economy food plan.
As a result of deliberations of a Federal interagency committee in 1969, the following two modifications to the original SSA definition of poverty were adopted:
2 Poverty thresholds for 1959-1967 were recalculated on this basis, and revised poverty population figures for those years were tabulated using the revised thresholds. These revised 1959-1967 poverty population figures have been published in Census Bureau reports issued since August 1969 (including the present report). Because of this revision, poverty statistics from documents dated before August 1969 are not comparable with current poverty statistics.
In 1981, three additional modifications in the poverty definition recommended by another interagency committee were adopted for implementation in the March 1982 CPS as well as the 1980 census:
For further details, see the section, "Changes in the Definition of Poverty," in Current Population Reports, Series P-60, No. 133.
The poverty thresholds are increased each year by the same percentage as the annual average Consumer Price Index (CPI). The poverty thresholds are currently adjusted using the annual average CPI-U (1982-84 = 100). This base year has been used since 1988. From 1980 through 1987, the thresholds were adjusted using the CPI-U (1967 = 100). The CPI (1963 = 100) was used to adjust thresholds prior to 1980.
For further information on how the poverty thresholds were developed and subsequent changes in them, see Gordon M. Fisher, "The Development and History of the Poverty Thresholds," Social Security Bulletin, vol.55, no.4, Winter 1992, pp. 3-14.
The race of individuals was identified by a question that asked for self-identification of the person’s race. Respondents were asked to select their race from a "flashcard" listing racial groups.
The population is divided into five groups on the basis of race: White; Black; American Indian, Eskimo or Aleut; Asian or Pacific Islander; and Other races beginning with March 1989. The last category includes any other race except the four mentioned. In most of the published tables "Other races" are included in the total population data line but are not shown individually.
The reference person is the person to whom the relationship of other people in the household is recorded. The household reference person is the person listed as the householder (see definition of "Householder"). The subfamily reference person is either the single parent or the husband/wife in a married-couple situation.
The four major regions of the United States for which data are presented represent groups of States as follows:
Northeast. Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont.
Midwest. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin.
South. Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia.
West. Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming.
Sunbelt. Consists of 13 states plus one county in Nevada and nine counties in California. The states that are entirely inside the Sunbelt are: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Also included are Clark County, Nevada, and Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties in California.
The annual high school dropout rate is an estimate of the proportion of students who drop out of school in a single year. This section briefly explains how the annual dropout rate is calculated; for further explanation and details of its derivation see Current Population Report, Series P-20, No. 413, "School Enrollment--Social and Economic Characteristics of Students: October 1983."
Annual dropout rates for a single grade (x) are estimated as the ratio of the number of people who were enrolled in grade (x) in the year preceding the survey and who did not complete grade (x) and are not currently enrolled, to the number enrolled in grade (x) at the start of the year preceding this survey. People reported as enrolled last year but not currently enrolled are presented in table 8 of Current Population Reports on school enrollment, by the highest grade completed and are presumed to have dropped out of the succeeding grade (except those who graduated this year). Thus, individuals counted as 10th grade dropouts are those not enrolled in school whose highest grade completed is the 9th grade. (They include not only those people who were enrolled in the 10th grade in the fall of the year preceding the survey and left school without completing the year, but also those people who finished the 9th grade in the spring preceding the survey and were not enrolled at the survey date.) These estimates form the numerator of estimates of the annual grade specific dropout rate.
People currently enrolled in high school are presumed to have successfully completed and been enrolled in the preceding grade in the preceding year. Thus, those who have successfully completed the 10th grade are enrolled in the 11th grade. Along with the people who dropped out of that grade, they comprise the denominator of the estimate of the annual grade-specific dropout rate.
Since people who complete the 12th grade cannot be presumed to enroll in college, the estimate of the number of people enrolled in the 12th grade one year prior to the survey is constructed as the sum of the number of people reported as having graduated from high school "this year" (both those enrolled in the first year of college and people not currently enrolled whose highest grade completed is the 12th grade) and those people not currently enrolled who were enrolled last year and whose highest grade completed is the 11th grade (dropouts). The annual dropout rate for all grades during one year can be obtained by summing the components of the rates for the individual grades. In other words, those people who were enrolled in the tenth, eleventh, or twelfth grade last year and who are not currently enrolled and do not have a diploma.
In addition to the annual rate, two other estimates of dropouts are frequently used. The annual dropout rate is different from a "pool" (or status) measure such as the proportion of an age group who are high school dropouts (not enrolled in school, not high school graduates, which does not depend on when the individuals dropped out. A third measure of dropouts is the cohort measure, most commonly from a longitudinal study, in which one calculates the proportion of a specific group of people enrolled in a specific year, who had not received diplomas (and who were no longer in school) some years later. For example, the proportion of a cohort enrolled in ninth grade in year X, who were not enrolled and had not received a diploma by year X=4.
The school enrollment statistics from the CPS are based on replies to the interviewer’s inquiry whether the person was enrolled in regular school. Interviewers were instructed to count as enrolled anyone who had been enrolled at any time during the current term or school year in any type of public, parochial, or other private school in the regular school system. Such schools include nursery schools, kindergartens, elementary schools, high schools, colleges, universities, and professional schools. Attendance may be on either a full-time, or part-time basis and during the day or night. Regular schooling is that which may advance a person toward an elementary or high school diploma, a college, university, or professional school degree. Children enrolled in nursery schools and kindergarten are included in the enrollment figures for regular schools and are also shown separately.
Enrollment in schools which are not in the regular school system, such as trade schools, business colleges, and schools for the mentally handicapped, which do not advance students to regular school degrees, is not included.
People enrolled in classes which do not require physical presence in school, such as correspondence courses or other courses of independent study, and in training courses given directly on the job, are also excluded from the count of those enrolled in school, unless such courses are being counted for credit at a regular school.
School enrollment in year preceding current survey: An inquiry on enrollment in regular school or college in October of the preceding year was asked for all people (enrolled and not enrolled). In years before 1988, the question was asked only of people who were not currently attending regular school or were enrolled in college. In the tabulations of people enrolled in secondary school in the previous year, people currently enrolled in high school were assumed to have been enrolled the previous year.
Comparability of enrollment data in previous years: Changes in the edit and tabulation packages used in processing the October CPS school enrollment supplement caused some minor revisions in the estimates. The current edit and tabulation package began with 1987 data. The 1986 data which were published in Current Population Report, Series P-20 No. 429, were reprocessed with the rewritten programs in order to clarify comparability. Time series tables usually show only the revised estimates for 1986. The previous edit and tabulation package was used from 1967 to 1986.
Major changes in the data due to the 1987 edit revisions were: (1) Among 14- and 15-year-olds, an edit improvement allowed people with enrollment data not reported, who were previously automatically imputed "not enrolled," to be enrolled; (2) Revisions in tabulation of enrollment in the previous year simplifies calculation of an annual high school dropout rate; (3) Edit improvements caused increases in college enrollment estimates, most notably above age 24; this age group was largely ignored in earlier edits; (4) Type of college is fully allocated (discussed earlier); (5) Tabulations of type of college (2-year,4-year) are available by race; (6) Dependent family member is defined consistently; (7) New tabulations of employment status, vocational course enrollment, college retention and re-entry, and families with children enrolled in public and private school were available beginning in 1987.
In the series of reports on school enrollment for 1987 to 1992, race and Hispanic origin were erroneously tabulated for a small percentage of children 3 to 14 years old. Race and Hispanic origin of an adult in the household were attributed to the child, rather than using the child’s reported characteristics. In the vast majority of cases these characteristics were the same for family members, but for a small percentage of children, they were different. The correction made the following proportional changes in the numbers of children in each group: White (-0.5 percent), Black (+3.1 percent), Hispanic origin (-4.6 percent).
Published data on enrollment from the October CPS for 1981 to 1993 used population controls based on the 1980 census. Beginning in 1994 estimates were based on 1990 census population controls, including adjustment for undercount. Time series tables show two sets of data for 1993; the data labeled 1993r were processed using population controls based on the 1990 census, adjusted for undercount. The change in 1994 from a paper and pencil survey to a computer assisted survey had some affect on the data. Most notable, the enrollment question for children 3 to 5 years old was different from the question for older children--it included a reference to nursery school. In 1994 reported nursery school enrollment was significantly higher than in earlier years.
The statistics on level of school indicate the number of people enrolled at each of five levels--nursery school, kindergarten, elementary school (1st to 8th grades), high school (9th to 12th grades), and college or professional school. The last group includes graduate students in colleges or universities. People enrolled in elementary, middle school, intermediate school or junior high school through the eighth grade are classified as in elementary school. All people enrolled in 9th through 12th grade are classified as in high school.
Enrolled people are classified according to their relative progress in school: that is, whether the grade or year in which they were enrolled was below, at, or above the modal (or typical) grade for people of their age at the time of the survey. The modal grade is the year of school in which the largest proportion of students of a given age is enrolled.
A nursery school is defined as a group or class that is organized to provide educational experiences for children during the year or years preceding kindergarten. It includes instruction as an important and integral phase of its program of child care. Private homes in which essentially custodial care is provided are not considered nursery schools. Children attending nursery school are classified as attending during either part of the day or the full day. Part-day attendance refers to those who attend either in the morning or in the afternoon, but not both. Full-day attendance refers to those who attend in both the morning and the afternoon. Children enrolled in Head Start programs or similar programs sponsored by local agencies to provide preschool education to young children are counted under nursery school.
In this report, a public school is defined as any educational institution operated by publicly elected or appointed school officials and supported by public funds. Private schools include educational institutions established and operated by religious bodies, as well as those which are under other private control. In cases where enrollment was in a school or college which was both publicly and privately controlled or supported, enrollment was counted according to whether it was primarily public or private.
Secondary individuals are people of any age who reside in a household, but are not related to the householder (except unrelated subfamily members). People who reside in group quarters are also secondary individuals. Examples of a secondary individual include (1) a guest, partner, roommate, or resident employee; (2) a foster child; or (3) a person residing in a rooming house, a halfway house, staff quarters at a hospital, or other type of group quarters.
A Step family is a married-couple family household with at least one child under age 18 who is a stepchild (i.e., a son or daughter through marriage, but not by birth) of the householder. This definition undercounts the true number of step families in instances where the parent of the natural born or biological child is the householder and that parents spouse is not the child’s parent, as biological or step-parentage is not ascertained in the CPS for both parents.
A subfamily is a married couple with or without children, or a single parent with one or more own never-married children under 18 years old. A subfamily does not maintain their own household, but lives in the home of someone else.
Related subfamily. A related subfamily is a married couple with or without children, or one parent with one or more own never married children under 18 years old, living in a household and related to, but not including, the person or couple who maintains the household. One example of a related subfamily is a young married couple sharing the home of the husband’s or wife’s parents. The number of related subfamilies is not included in the count of families.
Unrelated subfamily. An unrelated subfamily (formerly called a secondary family) is a married couple with or without children, or a single parent with one or more own never-married children under 18 years old living in a household. Unrelated subfamily members are not related to the householder. An unrelated subfamily may include people such as guests, partners, roommates, or resident employees and their spouses and/or children. The number of unrelated subfamily members is included in the total number of household members, but is not included in the count of family members.
Beginning in 1989, any person(s) who is not related to the householder and who is not the husband, wife, parent, or child in an unrelated subfamily is counted as an unrelated individual.
A housing unit is "owned" if the owner or co-owner lives in the unit, even if it is mortgaged or not fully paid for. A cooperative or condominium unit is "owned" only if the owner or co-owner lives in it. All other occupied units are classified as "rented," including units rented for cash rent and those occupied without payment of cash rent.
Because all residents of the United States living in households are represented in the sample of households interviewed by the CPS, undocumented immigrants or illegal aliens are probably included in CPS data. Because the CPS makes no attempt to ascertain the legal status of any person interviwed, these individuals cannot be identified from CPS data.
All people who were not employed during the reference week but were available for work (excluding temporary illness) and had made specific efforts to find employment some time during the 4-week period ending with the reference week are classified as unemployed. Individuals who were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been laid off need not have been looking for work to be classified as unemployed. People waiting to start a new job must have actively looked for a job within the last 4 weeks in order to be counted as unemployed. Otherwise, they are classified as not in the labor force.
Vocational school enrollment includes enrollment in business, vocational, technical, secretarial, trade, or correspondence courses which are not counted as regular school enrollment and are not for recreation or adult education classes. Courses counted as college enrollment should not also be included as vocational.
The population of voting age includes a considerable number of people who meet the age requirement but cannot register and vote. People who are not citizens are not eligible to vote. Among citizens of voting age, some people are not permitted to vote because they have been committed to penal institutions, mental hospitals, or other institutions, or because they fail to meet state and local resident requirements for various reasons. The eligibility to register is governed by state laws which differ in many respects.
Registration is the act of qualifying to vote by formally enrolling on a list of voters. People who have moved to another election district must take steps to have their names placed on the voting rolls in their new place of residence.
In a few states or parts of states, no formal registration is required. Voters merely present themselves at the polling place on election day with proof that they are of age and have met the appropriate residence requirements. Therefore, in these areas people who are citizens and of voting age, and who meet the residence requirement, would be considered as being registered.
Voter participation data are derived from replies to the following question asked of people (excluding noncitizens) of voting age: "In any election some people are not able to vote because they are sick or busy, or have some other reason, and others do not want to vote. Did (this person) vote in the election held on November (date varies)?"
Those of voting age were classified as "voted" or "did not vote." In most tables, this "did not vote" class includes those reported as "did not vote," "do not know," noncitizens, and nonrespondents. Nonrespondents and people who reported that they did not know if they voted were included in the "did not vote" class because of the general over-reporting by respondents in the sample.
The data on registration were obtained by tabulating replies to the following question for those people included in the category "did not vote." "Was (this person) registered to vote in the November (date varies) election?"
All people reported as having voted were assumed to have been registered. Therefore, the total registered population is obtained by combining the number of people who voted and people included in the category "did not vote," but who had registered.
A person with work experience is one who, during the preceding calendar year, did any work for pay or profit or worked without pay on a family-operated farm or business at any time during the year, on a part-time or full-time basis. A full-time worker is one who worked 35 hours or more per week during a majority of the weeks worked during the preceding calendar year. A year-round worker is one who worked for 50 weeks or more during the preceding calendar year. A full-time, year-round worker is a person who worked full time (35 or more hours per week) and 50 or more weeks during the previous calendar year.
1 For a detailed discussion of the original SSA poverty thresholds, see Mollie Orshansky, Counting the Poor: Another Look at the Poverty Profile, Social Security Bulletin, vol. 28, no. 1, January 1965, pp. 3-29 (reprinted in Social Security Bulletin, vol. 51, no. 10, October 1988, pp. 25-51); and Who’s Who Among the Poor: A Demographic View of Poverty, Social Security Bulletin, vol. 28, no. 7, July 1965, pp. 3-32.
2 Poverty thresholds for 1959-1967 were recalculated on this basis, and revised poverty population figures for those years were tabulated using the revised thresholds. These revised 1959-1967 poverty population figures have been published in Census Bureau reports issued since August 1969 (including the present report). Because of this revision, poverty statistics from documents dated before August 1969 are not comparable with current poverty statistics.