Households and Persons Per Household

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey (ACS) and Puerto Rico Community Survey (PRCS), 5-Year Estimates. The PRCS is part of the Census Bureau's ACS, customized for Puerto Rico. Both Surveys are updated every year.

Definition

A household includes all the persons who occupy a housing unit as their usual place of residence. A housing unit is a house, an apartment, a mobile home, a group of rooms, or a single room that is occupied (or if vacant, is intended for occupancy) as separate living quarters. Separate living quarters are those in which the occupants live and eat separately from any other persons in the building and which have direct access from outside the building or through a common hall. The occupants may be a single family, one person living alone, two or more families living together, or any other group of related or unrelated persons who share living arrangements. (People not living in households are classified as living in group quarters.)

Persons per household, or average household size, is obtained by dividing the number of persons in households by the number of households (or householders). For the complete definition, go to ACS subject definitions "Average household size."

Source and Accuracy

This Fact is based on data collected in the American Community Survey (ACS) and the Puerto Rico Community Survey (PRCS) conducted annually by the U.S. Census Bureau. A sample of over 3.5 million housing unit addresses is interviewed each year over a 12 month period. This Fact (estimate) is based on five years of ACS and PRCS sample data and describes the average value of person, household and housing unit characteristics over this period of collection.

Statistics from all surveys are subject to sampling and nonsampling error. Sampling error is the uncertainty between an estimate based on a sample and the corresponding value that would be obtained if the estimate were based on the entire population (as from a census). Measures of sampling error are provided in the form of margins of error for all estimates included with ACS and PRCS published products. The Census Bureau recommends that data users incorporate this information into their analyses, as sampling error in survey estimates could impact the conclusions drawn from the results. The data for each geographic area are presented together with margins of error at Using margins of error. A more detailed explanation of margins of error and a demonstration of how to use them is provided below.

For more information on sampling and estimation methodology, confidentiality, and sampling and nonsampling errors, please see the Multiyear Accuracy (US) and the Multiyear Accuracy (Puerto Rico) documents at "Documentation - Accuracy of the data."

Margin of Error

As mentioned above, ACS estimates are based on a sample and are subject to sampling error. The margin of error measures the degree of uncertainty caused by sampling error. The margin of error is used with an ACS estimate to construct a confidence interval about the estimate. The interval is formed by adding the margin of error to the estimate (the upper bound) and subtracting the margin of error from the estimate (the lower bound). It is expected with 90 percent confidence that the interval will contain the full population value of the estimate. The following example is for demonstrating purposes only. Suppose the ACS reported that the percentage of people in a state who were 25 years and older with a bachelor's degree was 21.3 percent and that the margin of error associated with this estimate was 0.7 percent. By adding and subtracting the margin of error from the estimate, we calculate the 90-percent confidence interval for this estimate:

21.3% - 0.7% = 20.6% => Lower-bound estimate
21.3% + 0.7% = 22.0% => Upper-bound estimate

Therefore, we can be 90 percent confident that the percent of the population 25 years and older having a bachelor's degree in a state falls somewhere between 20.6 percent and 22.0 percent.

For this Fact, its estimates and margins of error along with percents and percent margins of errors can be found on American Community Survey, Data Profiles-Social Characteristics

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