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Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
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2

The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey

WHAT ARE GROUP QUARTERS?

The Census Bureau classifies living quarters as either housing units or group quarters (GQ). Although living quarters are usually found in residential structures, they can also be found in structures not intended for residential use and in such places as tents, vans, and emergency and transitional shelters (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011d). Most people reside in housing units, which the Census Bureau defines as follows:

A housing unit may be a house, an apartment, a mobile home, a group of rooms or a single room that is occupied (or, if vacant, intended for occupancy) as separate living quarters. Separate living quarters are those in which the occupants live separately from any other individuals in the building and which have direct access from outside the building or through a common hall.

By this classification, people who do not live in housing units live in group quarters. The Census Bureau’s definition of group quarters is as follows:

A group quarters is a place where people live or stay, in a group living arrangement, that is owned or managed by an entity or organization providing housing and/or services for the residents. This is not a typical household-type living arrangement. These services may include custodial or medical care as well as other types of assistance, and residency is commonly restricted to those receiving these services. People living in group quarters are usually not related to each other. Group quarters include such places as college residence halls, residential treatment centers, skilled nursing facilities, group homes, military barracks, correctional facilities, and workers’ dormitories.

Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×

At the time of the 2010 census, there were approximately 8 million people living in group quarters, representing 2.6 percent of the total U.S. population. This ratio has remained relatively constant over the past few decades.

Unlike most surveys that limit their target population to households (people who live in housing units) and sometimes noninstitutional group quarters, the goal of the American Community Survey (ACS) is to represent all U.S. residents. Samples of most types of group quarters have been included in the ACS since 2006, the second year of the survey’s existence. For practical reasons and in some cases because of privacy concerns, the ACS does exclude a few of the less common GQ types (for example, domestic violence shelters, soup kitchens, regularly scheduled mobile food vans, targeted nonsheltered outdoor locations, commercial maritime vessels, natural disaster shelters, and dangerous encampments), but it remains the most comprehensive survey in the United States in terms of this target population, aside from the decennial census itself. It is also important to note that ACS estimates of the total population are controlled to the Population Estimates Program (PEP) estimates of the total GQ population, including residents of group quarters that are not included in the ACS (U.S. Census Bureau, 2009). Box 2-1 describes the group quarters that were included in the 2010 ACS.

Half of GQ residents live in institutional settings. Institutional facilities are group quarters that provide formally supervised custody or care to inmates or patients. Examples of institutional group quarters are correctional facilities and nursing homes. The remainder of the GQ population lives in noninstitutional settings, such as student housing and military quarters. Table 2-1 shows the GQ population by type of group quarters based on the 2010 census enumeration.

CHARACTERISTICS OF GROUP QUARTERS

Although the number of GQ residents is small relative to the total population, the GQ population is “lumpy” in several senses of the term. First, individual GQ facilities (e.g., student dormitories, correctional facilities, nursing homes) are unusually homogenous regarding basic demographic characteristics. Hypothetically, communities with identical total GQ populations may differ considerably depending on the types of facilities existing within their boundaries. Second, although some jurisdictions have very few GQ residents, the population of other jurisdictions may be dominated by a large GQ facility, such as a university or a federal or state prison. Third, the GQ population is systematically different from the household population in terms of basic demographic characteristics. Table 2-2 shows the characteristics of the GQ population by sex and age group. Table 2-3 summarizes the main characteristics that tend to differ between group quarters and the household population.

Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×

BOX 2-1
2010 American Community Survey Group Quarters Definitions

1. Correctional Facilities for Adults

Correctional Residential Facilities

These are community-based facilities operated for correctional purposes. The facility residents may be allowed extensive contact with the community, such as for employment or attending school, but are obligated to occupy the premises at night. Examples are halfway houses, restitution centers, and prerelease, work release, and study centers.

Federal Detention Centers

Stand alone, generally multi-level, federally operated correctional facilities that provide “short-term” confinement or custody of adults pending adjudication or sentencing. These facilities may hold pretrial detainees, holdovers, sentenced offenders, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) inmates, formerly called Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) inmates. These facilities include Metropolitan Correctional Centers (MCCs), Metropolitan Detention Centers (MDCs), Federal Detention Centers (FDCs), Bureau of Indian Affairs Detention Centers, ICE Service Processing Centers, and ICE contract detention facilities.

Federal and State Prisons

Adult correctional facilities where people convicted of crimes serve their sentences. Common names include prison, penitentiary, correctional institution, federal or state correctional facility, and conservation camp. The prisons are classified by two types of control: (1) “federal” (operated by or for the Bureau of Prisons of the Department of Justice) and (2) “state.” Residents who are forensic patients or criminally insane are classified on the basis of where they resided at the time of interview. Patients in hospitals (units, wings, or floors) operated by or for federal or state correctional authorities are interviewed in the prison population. Other forensic patients will be interviewed in psychiatric hospital units and floors for long-term non-acute patients. This category may include privately operated correctional facilities.

Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×

Local Jails and Other Municipal Confinement Facilities

Correctional facilities operated by or for counties, cities, and American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments. These facilities hold adults detained pending adjudication and/or people committed after adjudication. This category also includes work farms and camps used to hold people awaiting trial or serving time on relatively short sentences. Residents who are forensic patients or criminally insane are classified on the basis of where they resided at the time of interview. Patients in hospitals (units, wings, or floors) operated by or for local correctional authorities are counted in the jail population. Other forensic patients will be interviewed in psychiatric hospital units and floors for long-term non-acute patients. This category may include privately operated correctional facilities.

Military Disciplinary Barracks and Jails

Correctional facilities managed by the military to hold those awaiting trial or convicted of crimes.

2. Juvenile Facilities

Correctional Facilities Intended for Juveniles

Includes specialized facilities that provide strict confinement for its residents and detain juveniles awaiting adjudication, commitment or placement, and/or those being held for diagnosis or classification. Also included are correctional facilities where residents are permitted contact with the community, for purposes such as attending school or holding a job. Examples are residential training schools and farms, reception and diagnostic centers, group homes operated by or for correctional authorities, detention centers, and boot camps for juvenile delinquents.

Group Homes for Juveniles (non-correctional)

Includes community-based group living arrangements for youth in residential settings that are able to accommodate three or more clients of a service provider. The group home provides room and board and services, including behavioral, psychological, or social programs. Generally, clients are not related to the care giver or to each other. Examples are maternity homes for unwed mothers, orphanages, and homes for abused and neglected children in need of services. Group homes for juveniles do not include residential treatment centers for juveniles or group homes operated by or for correctional authorities.

Residential Treatment Centers for Juveniles (non-correctional)

Includes facilities that primarily serve youth that provide services on-site in a highly structured live-in environment for the treatment of drug/alcohol abuse, mental illness, and emotional/behavioral disorders. These facilities are staffed 24-hours a day. The focus of a residential treatment center is on the treatment program. Residential treatment centers for juveniles do not include facilities operated by or for correctional authorities.

3. Nursing Facilities/Skilled Nursing Facilities

Nursing Facilities/Skilled Nursing Facilities

Includes facilities licensed to provide medical care with 7 day, 24-hour coverage for people requiring long-term non-acute care. People in these facilities require nursing care, regardless of age. Either of these types of facilities may be referred to as nursing homes.

4. Other Institutional Facilities

Hospitals with Patients Who Have No Usual Home Elsewhere

Includes hospitals if they have any patients who have no exit or disposition plan, or who are known as “boarder patients” or “boarder babies.” All hospitals are eligible

Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×

for inclusion in this category except psychiatric hospitals, units, wings or floors operated by federal, state or local correctional authorities. Patients in hospitals operated by these correctional authorities will be interviewed in the prison or jail population. Psychiatric units and hospice units in hospitals are also excluded. Only patients with no usual home elsewhere are interviewed in this category.

Inpatient Hospice Facilities

Includes inpatient hospice facilities (both free-standing and units in hospitals) that provide palliative, comfort, and supportive care for the terminally ill patient and their families. All patients in these GQs are included in the ACS GQ sample.

Mental (Psychiatric) Hospitals and Psychiatric Units in Other Hospitals

Includes psychiatric hospitals, units and floors for long-term non-acute care patients. The primary function of the hospital, unit, or floor is to provide diagnostic and treatment services for long-term non-acute patients who have psychiatric-related illness.

Military Treatment Facilities with Assigned Patients

These facilities include military hospitals and medical centers with active duty patients assigned to the facility. Only these patients are interviewed in this category.

Residential Schools for People with Disabilities

Includes schools that provide the teaching of skills for daily living, education programs, and care for students with disabilities in a live-in environment. Examples are residential schools for the physically or developmentally disabled.

5. College/University Student Housing

College/University Student Housing

Includes residence halls and dormitories, which house college and university students in a group living arrangement. These facilities are owned, leased, or managed either by a college, university, or seminary, or by a private entity or organization. Fraternity and sorority housing recognized by the college or university are included as college student housing. Students attending the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Military Academy (West Point), the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and the U.S. Air Force Academy are interviewed in military group quarters.

6. Military Group Quarters

Military Quarters

These facilities include military personnel living in barracks (including “open” barrack transient quarters) and dormitories and military ships. Patients assigned to military treatment facilities and people being held in military disciplinary barracks and jails are not interviewed in this category. Patients in military treatment facilities with no usual home elsewhere are not interviewed in this category.

Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×

7. Other Noninstitutional Facilities

Emergency and Transitional Shelters (with Sleeping Facilities) for People Experiencing Homelessness

Facilities where people experiencing homelessness stay overnight. These include (1) shelters that operate on a first-come, first-serve basis where people must leave in the morning and have no guaranteed bed for the next night; (2) shelters where people know that they have a bed for a specified period of time (even if they leave the building every day); and (3) shelters that provide temporary shelter during extremely cold weather (such as churches). This category does not include shelters that operate only in the event of a natural disaster. Examples are emergency and transitional shelters; missions; hotels and motels used to shelter people experiencing homelessness; shelters for children who are runaways, neglected or experiencing homelessness; and similar places known to have people experiencing homelessness.

Group Homes Intended for Adults

Group homes are community-based group living arrangements in residential settings that are able to accommodate three or more clients of a service provider. The group home provides room and board and services, including behavioral, psychological, or social programs. Generally, clients are not related to the care giver or to each other. Group homes do not include residential treatment centers or facilities operated by or for correctional authorities.

Residential Treatment Centers for Adults

Residential facilities that provide treatment on-site in a highly structured live-in environment for the treatment of drug/alcohol abuse, mental illness, and emotional/ behavioral disorders. They are staffed 24 hours a day. The focus of a residential treatment center is on the treatment program. Residential treatment centers do not include facilities operated by or for correctional authorities.

Religious Group Quarters

These are living quarters owned or operated by religious organizations that are intended to house their members in a group living situation. This category includes such places as convents, monasteries, and abbeys. Living quarters for students living or staying in seminaries are classified as college student housing not religious group quarters.

Workers’ Group Living Quarters and Job Corps Centers

Includes facilities such as dormitories, bunkhouses, and similar types of group living arrangements for agricultural and nonagricultural workers. This category also includes facilities that provide a full-time, year-round residential program offering a vocational training and employment program that helps young people 16- to-24 years old learn a trade, earn a high school diploma or GED and get help finding a job. Examples are group living quarters at migratory farm worker camps, construction workers’ camps, Job Corps centers, and vocational training facilities, and energy enclaves in Alaska.

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau. Available: http://www.census.gov/acs/www/Downloads/data_documentation/GroupDefinitions/2010GQ_Definitions.pdf.

Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×

TABLE 2-1 GQ Population by Type of Group Quarters, 2010 Census


GQ Type Number Percentage

Correctional facilities for adults 2,263,602 28.3

Federal detention centers

68,577 0.9

Federal prisons

172,020 2.2

State prisons

1,248,167 15.6

Local jails and other municipal confinement facilities

682,043 8.5

Correctional residential facilities

91,006 1.1

Military disciplinary barracks and jails

1,789 0.0
Juvenile facilities 151,315 1.9

Group homes for juveniles (noncorrectional)

37,618 0.5

Residential treatment centers for juveniles (noncorrectional)

48,010 0.6

Correctional facilities intended for juveniles

65,687 0.8
Nursing facilities/skilled nursing facilities 1,502,264 18.8
Other institutional facilities 76,478 1.0

Mental hospitals and psychiatric units in other hospitals

42,035 0.5

Hospitals with patients who have no usual home elsewhere

16,902 0.2

Inpatient hospice facilities

7,751 0.1

Military treatment facilities with assigned patients

266 0.0

Residential schools for people with disabilities

9,524 0.1
Total Institutional Population 3,993,659 50.0
College/university student housing 2,521,090 31.6
Military group quarters 338,191 4.2

Military barracks and dormitories

288,718 3.6

Military ships

49,473 0.6
Other noninstitutional facilities 1,134,383 14.2

Emergency and transitional shelters for people experiencing homelessness

209,325 2.6

Group homes intended for adults

304,688 3.8

Residential treatment centers for adults

139,420 1.7

Maritime/merchant vessels

2,382 0.0

Workers’ group living quarters and Job Corps centers

168,549 2.1

Other (noninstitutional)

310,019 3.9
Total Noninstitutional Population 3,993,664 50.0
Total GQ Population 7,987,323 100.0

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau 2010 Summary File 1 (PCT20). Available: http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml.

DATA COLLECTIONS FROM GROUP QUARTERS

Because of the particular characteristics of the GQ population and their potentially large impact on the estimates in small areas, GQ data play a crucial role in the accuracy of the total population data from the ACS. The Census Bureau has been refining the ACS procedures used for collecting and producing GQ estimates over the years, building on decades of experience measuring these populations as part of the decennial census.

Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×

TABLE 2-2 GQ Population by Sex and Age, 2010 Census


  Number Percentage
Age Male Female Total Male Female Total

Under 20 years 910,270 877,497 1,787,767 18.7 28.0 22.4
20 to 34 years 1,965,139 850,832 2,815,971 40.4 27.2 35.3
35 to 64 years 1,529,210 396,669 1,925,879 31.5 12.7 24.1
65 years and over 453,591 1,004,115 1,457,706 9.3 32.1 18.3
Total GQ Population 4,858,210 3,129,113 7,987,323 100.0 100.0 100.0
Under 20 years 183,481 51,191 234,672 6.8 4.0 5.9
20 to 34 years 1,022,949 118,492 1,141,441 37.7 9.3 28.6
35 to 64 years 1,115,096 204,596 1,319,692 41.0 16.0 33.0
65 years and over 395,351 902,503 1,297,854 14.6 70.7 32.5
Total Institutional Population 2,716,877 1,276,782 3,993,659 100.0 100.0 100.0
Under 20 years 726,789 826,306 1,553,095 33.9 44.6 38.9
20 to 34 years 942,190 732,340 1,674,530 44.0 39.5 41.9
35 to 64 years 414,114 192,073 606,187 19.3 10.4 15.2
65 years and over 58,240 101,612 159,852 2.7 5.5 4.0
Noninstitutional Population 2,141,333 1,852,331 3,993,664 100.0 100.0 100.0

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau 2010 Summary File 1 (PC02 and PC07). Available: http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml.
Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×

TABLE 2-3 Comparisons Between Group Quarters and the Household Population


Characteristic Comparison

Sex Correctional facilities are overwhelmingly male. Nursing homes are predominantly female.
Age Student housing is almost exclusively for ages 18-24. Nursing homes are predominantly for ages 65 and over.
Race Correctional facilities have a higher percentage of African Americans or blacks than the household population.
Hispanic origin Correctional facilities have a higher percentage and nursing homes have a lower percentage of persons of Hispanic origin than the household population.
Marital status Correctional facilities and college dorms have high never-married rates. Nursing homes have high widowed rates.
Disability status Nursing homes have high rates of disabilities.
School enrollment Residents of student housing are almost all enrolled in college.
Veteran status Nursing homes have higher rates of veterans. Student housing has very few veterans.
Residence 1 year ago GQ residents have a high rate of having lived somewhere else a year ago.
Employment status Most persons living in college dorms are not in the labor force.
Income GQ residents have lower income than the household population.

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau (2011e).

The concept of group quarters started to gradually emerge beginning with the 1830 census, with the term group quarters first appearing as part of the 1850 census (Ruggles and Brower, 2003). Prior to that, all individuals living together were enumerated as if they were part of a large family. The categorization of GQ facilities and the procedures used for the enumeration have generally been modified and updated with each census, but measuring this population remains extremely challenging, even in the decennial census. One reason is that it is difficult to develop standardized definitions for these types of complex living arrangements that are both operationally practical and consistent with the broad range of terminologies used by GQ facility managers and residents. Another reason is that many small GQ facilities are not easily distinguishable from traditional housing units. Third, the unique circumstances of many GQ residents means that some of the questions asked are not equally applicable to residents of all GQ types, which can result in the need to impute a large percentage of the responses to individual questions. This is especially true for the questions that were on the census long form and are now on the ACS. Although it is too early to assess the success of the enumeration of group quarters in the

Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×

2010 census, the 2000 census was criticized because some GQ residents were counted more than once, some were missed, and some were assigned to the wrong geographic location (U.S. Government Accountability Office, 2010).

The ACS faces the arguably more complex task of producing estimates of the total population based only on samples of this relatively small subset of the total population. The main steps in the current approach to the ACS GQ data collection are summarized in Box 2-2. Key aspects of the ACS survey design and GQ data collection are discussed in further detail in subsequent chapters.

The ACS was envisioned as a survey that would provide the same information about the U.S. population and entities in the geographic hierarchy as small as census block groups as did the census long-form questionnaire. Historically, the content of the census long form was determined by including only questions that met the following criteria (U.S. Census Bureau, 2009):

  • They were mandated by federal law calling for the use of decennial census data for a particular federal program.
  • They were required because a federal law or implementing regulation called for the use of specific data, and the decennial census was the historical or only source.
  • They were required because of case law requirements imposed by the U.S. federal court system.
  • They were necessary to meet Census Bureau operational needs.

In developing the content of the ACS, the Census Bureau was assisted by the Office of Management and Budget Interagency Committee for the ACS, which includes representatives from dozens of federal agencies; it is cochaired by the Office of Management and Budget and the Census Bureau. The committee continues to advise the Census Bureau as new data needs and the need for questionnaire revisions arise. This is a difficult task because of several important but often competing considerations: concerns about respondent burden, increasing data needs, and the consistency required to preserve the continuity of time series. Changes made to the ACS questionnaires over the years have been relatively small. Some new questions have been added to the ACS, including health insurance coverage, marital history, Veterans Administration service-connected disability rating, and field of college degree.

Box 2-3 summarizes the current content of the housing unit and the GQ questionnaires. Appendix B includes the full 2011 ACS housing unit questionnaire, and Appendix C includes the full 2011 ACS GQ questionnaire. The content of the GQ questionnaire is essentially the same as the housing unit questionnaire, except that the housing sections (physical and financial characteristics related to housing) are not asked of GQ residents. The only other question not asked of GQ residents is the “relationship to householder” question, which provides users with data on family structure in households.

Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×

BOX 2-2
Data Collection Steps for Group Quarters in the American Community Survey

Sample Development

The GQ sample is derived from data extracts from the Census Bureau’s Master Address File (MAF) and information from other sources. The sample is divided into two strata: (1) GQ facilities with 15 or fewer expected residents and facilities with an unknown population count and (2) GQ facilities with more than 15 expected residents. In small group quarters, everyone is eligible to be interviewed. In large group quarters, the residents are divided into groups of 10 and a systematic sample of 1-in-40 groups of 10 is selected. The facilities and groups of 10 respondents are randomly assigned to data collection months throughout the year (with some exceptions, which are described below).

Facility-Level Data Collection Phase

The Census Bureau’s National Processing Center mails an advance letter and brochure about the ACS to each sampled GQ facility prior to the beginning of the fieldwork. Field representatives contact sampled group quarters by phone to schedule an appointment for visiting the facility. During the visit to sampled facilities, field representatives administer the computer-assisted Group Quarters Facility Questionnaire to a contact person. The facility type, population size, and the sample of individuals to be interviewed are determined during this process.

Person-Level Data Collection Phase

Person-level interviews can be completed by:

–in-person interview (computer-assisted personal interview) with the sample person (the method preferred by the Census Bureau);

–telephone interview with the sample person;

–in-person proxy interview with the GQ contact, relative, or guardian of the sample person;

–leaving the questionnaire with the sample person to complete by self-response (the field representative must return to collect the completed questionnaire); or

–leaving the questionnaire with the GQ contact, who agrees to give it to the sample person (the field representative must return to collect the completed questionnaire).

If a GQ contact is involved in distributing the questionnaires or providing responses, he or she must take an oath of nondisclosure, under Title 13 of the U.S. Code.

Special Procedures

In remote Alaska, the GQ data collection is conducted twice a year, from January through mid-April and from September through mid-January.

Data collection in federal prisons is completed during a 4-month period, from September through December. The Bureau of Prisons provides a list of inmates to the Census Bureau and conducts security clearances of field representatives who will be visiting these facilities.

Correctional and military facilities selected into the sample for more than one month of the year are visited only once a year, during a randomly selected month.

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau (2009).

Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×

BOX 2-3
Topics Covered in the 2011 ACS Questionnaires

 
HOUSING UNIT QUESTIONNAIRE GROUP QUARTERS QUESTIONNAIRE
 
Demographic Characteristics
Age
Sex
Hispanic origin
Race
Relationship to householder
Demographic Characteristics
Age Sex
Hispanic origin Race
 
Economic Characteristics
Income
Food stamps benefit
Labor force status
Industry, occupation, and class of
worker Place of work and journey to work Work status last year Health insurance coverage
Economic Characteristics
Income
Food stamps beneft
Labor force status
Industry, occupation, and class of
worker Place of work and journey to work Work status last year Health insurance coverage
 
Social Characteristics
Ancestry
Place of birth, citizenship, and year of entry to United States
Language spoken at home
Educational attainment and school enrollment
Undergraduate field of degree
Residence one year ago
Marital status and marital history
Fertility
Grandparents as caregivers
Veteran status, period of military service, and Veterans Administration service-connected disability rating
Disability
Social Characteristics
Ancestry
Place of birth, citizenship, and year of entry to United States
Language spoken at home
Educational attainment and school enrollment
Undergraduate field of degree
Residence one year ago
Marital status and marital history
Fertility
Grandparents as caregivers
Veteran status, period of military service, and Veterans Administration service-connected disability rating
Disability
 
Housing—Physical Characteristics
Year structure built
Units in structure
Year moved into unit
Rooms
Bedrooms
Kitchen facilities
Plumbing facilities
Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×
House heating fuel
Telephone service available
Vehicles available
Farm residence
 
Housing—Financial Characteristics
Tenure (owner/renter)
Housing value
Rent
Selected monthly owner costs

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey Questionnaire Archive. Available: http://www.census.gov/acs/www/methodology/questionnaire_archive/.

Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×

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Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×
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Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×
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Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×
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Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×
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Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×
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Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×
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Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×
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Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×
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Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×
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Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
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Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
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Page29
Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×
Page30
Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
×
Page31
Suggested Citation:"2 The Group Quarters Population and the American Community Survey." National Research Council. 2012. Small Populations, Large Effects: Improving the Measurement of the Group Quarters Population in the American Community Survey. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13387.
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Page32
Next: 3 American Community Survey Data Products, Data Uses, and Data Needs »
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In the early 1990s, the Census Bureau proposed a program of continuous measurement as a possible alternative to the gathering of detailed social, economic, and housing data from a sample of the U.S. population as part of the decennial census. The American Community Survey (ACS) became a reality in 2005, and has included group quarters (GQ)-such places as correctional facilities for adults, student housing, nursing facilities, inpatient hospice facilities, and military barracks-since 2006, primarily to more closely replicate the design and data products of the census long-form sample.

The decision to include group quarters in the ACS enables the Census Bureau to provide a comprehensive benchmark of the total U.S. population (not just those living in households). However, the fact that the ACS must rely on a sample of what is a small and very diverse population, combined with limited funding available for survey operations, makes the ACS GQ sampling, data collection, weighting, and estimation procedures more complex and the estimates more susceptible to problems stemming from these limitations. The concerns are magnified in small areas, particularly in terms of detrimental effects on the total population estimates produced for small areas.

Small Populations, Large Effects provides an in-depth review of the statistical methodology for measuring the GQ population in the ACS. This report addresses difficulties associated with measuring the GQ population and the rationale for including GQs in the ACS. Considering user needs for ACS data and of operational feasibility and compatibility with the treatment of the household population in the ACS, the report recommends alternatives to the survey design and other methodological features that can make the ACS more useful for users of small-area data.

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