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Surveys and Programs Contributing to Age and Sex

Data on the age and sex composition of the U.S. population are available from a variety of Census Bureau sources. Brief descriptions of data sources are provided below, along with links.

Listed below are the surveys, censuses and programs that contribute data and other content to Age and Sex. Click on the following links to learn more. 

American Community Survey (ACS)

The American Community Survey (ACS) is an annual, nationwide survey of more than 3.5 million households in the U.S. The ACS is part of the Decennial Census Program and replaces the long form, which the Census Bureau last used during Census 2000. The survey produces statistics on demographic, social, economic, and other characteristics about our nation's population and housing. We release ACS 1-year estimates in September for the pervious calendar year and 5-year estimates in December for the previous five calendar years.

Beginning in 2008, respondents are asked whether each household member is currently covered (by specific types of health coverage) at the time of interview.

Current Population Survey (CPS)

The Current Population Survey (CPS) is a monthly survey of about 50,000 households conducted by the Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is also the primary source of labor force statistics for the population of the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics sponsors the survey, and the U.S. Census Bureau conducts the data each month. The CPS involves a sample of about 60,000 occupied households. Households are in the survey for four consecutive months, out for eight, and then return for another four months before leaving the sample permanently.

The Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) to the CPS is a survey of about 100,000 addresses (which amounts to about 78,000 households) and includes detailed health insurance questions. The household respondent is asked if anyone in the household had specific types of health coverage during the previous calendar year, and if so, who. Interviews are conducted from February through April, and ask about the prior calendar year.

Decennial Census

The decennial census counts every resident in the U.S. once every ten years, in years ending in zero. The Constitution of the United States mandates the head count to make sure each state can fairly represent its population in the U.S. House of Representatives. States use the numbers to draw their legislative districts. The federal government uses them to distribute funds and assistance to states and localities.

The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census be taken in the United State every 10 years. This is required in order to determine the number of seats each state is to receive in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Census Bureau collects data on age and sex to support a variety of legislative and program requirements. These data are also used to aid in allocating funds from federal programs and, in particular, from programs targeting specific age groups.”

Population and Housing Unit Estimates

The Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program (PEP) produces estimates of the population for the United States, its states, counties, cities, and towns, as well as for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and its municipios. Demographic components of population change (births, deaths, and migration) are produced at the national, state, and county levels of geography. Additionally, housing unit estimates are produced for the nation, states, and counties.

PEP annually utilizes current data on births, deaths, and migration to calculate population change since the most recent decennial census and produce a time series of estimates of population, demographic components of change, and housing units. The annual time series of estimates begins with the most recent decennial census data and extends to the vintage year.

Population Projections

Population projections are estimates of the population for future dates. They are typically based on an estimated population consistent with the most recent decennial census and are produced using the cohort-component method. Projections illustrate possible courses of population change based on assumptions about future births, deaths, net international migration, and domestic migration. In some cases, several series of projections are produced based on alternative assumptions for future fertility, life expectancy, net international migration, and (for state-level projections) state-to-state or domestic migration.

Page Last Revised - December 2, 2021
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