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Luke J. Larsen, Elizabeth M. Grieco, and Patricia de la Cruz
Component ID: #ti441463212

Test Objective

From August to December 2010, the Census Bureau conducted a field test of new and revised questions in the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) Content Test. The results of that testing will determine the content to be incorporated into the ACS starting in 2013.

The 2010 ACS Content Test questionnaire included two new questions on parental place of birth (PPOB). Questions on PPOB are important because they divide the population into “first generation” (the foreign born), “second generation” (the children of immigrants), and “third-or-higher generation” (natives with no foreign-born parents) categories, allowing policymakers and researchers to examine questions about adaptation and integration of immigrants and their descendants over time. Also, questions on PPOB, because they clearly define the second generation, are required to examine the social and economic characteristics of the children of immigrants.

At present, the Current Population Survey (CPS) is the principal source of information on the population by generational status. However, the CPS is generally confined to national-level analysis and can only provide limited data at the sub-national level where immigrants are settling and populations are changing rapidly. Because the ACS has a larger sample size and the data can be combined into multi-year estimates for low levels of geography, the study of immigrant assimilation in the United States would greatly benefit from including PPOB questions on the ACS survey instrument.

Component ID: #ti955618565

Methodology

As a result of early questionnaire development efforts, Census Bureau analysts identified one primary set of PPOB questions to test in two locations on the ACS questionnaire. A research and evaluation plan was developed that detailed the specific course of analysis necessary to determine whether or not the proposed changes should be recommended for inclusion on the ACS questionnaire. For the PPOB questions, the project plan focused on three broad topic questions:

1. Do the PPOB questions “work” on the ACS questionnaire, providing reasonable and reliable data?
2. Does the placement of the PPOB questions on the questionnaire affect the data produced?
3. Does the placement of the PPOB questions affect the data produced by the ancestry, school enrollment, and language questions?

This report outlines the research questions, methodologies, and metrics used to answer the three broad topic questions and describes the analytical results that helped form the recommendation for inclusion on the ACS.

Component ID: #ti955618566

Research Questions and Results

Are the response distributions of PPOB and generational status (i.e., first, second, and third-or-higher generation) comparable to existing data sources?

Yes, the response distributions for father’s place of birth, mother’s place of birth, and generational status on both panels of the Content Test were very similar to distributions derived from the CPS.

Which placement results in a lower missing data rate?

The placement used by the Control panel resulted in a lower item missing data rate for both father’s and mother’s place of birth (6.9 percent and 6.0 percent, respectively) than the placement used by the Test panel (7.4 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively).

Do the two placements have similar or different response distributions?

In general, there were no notable significant differences in the response distributions of father’s and mother’s place of birth between the two placements used by the Control and Test panels. Thus, the two placements yielded similar distributions.

Which placement results in more reliable estimates?

In general, there were no notable significant differences in the reliability measures of father’s and mother’s place of birth between the two placements used by the Control and Test panels. Thus, neither placement yielded more reliable estimates than the other.

Does changing the placement of the PPOB questions from before to directly after the ancestry question affect the item missing data rate, response distribution, or reliability for the ancestry question?

In general, there were no notable significant differences in the response distributions or reliability measures of first reported ancestry or second reported ancestry between the two placements of PPOB used by the Control and Test panels. However, the placement used by the Test panel resulted in a lower item missing data rate for first reported ancestry (13.3 percent) than the placement used by the Control panel (14.5 percent).

Does the placement of the PPOB questions directly before the school enrollment question affect the item missing data rate, response distribution, or reliability for the school enrollment question?

In general, there were no notable significant differences in the response distributions or reliability measures of school enrollment status between the two placements of PPOB used by the Control and Test panels. However, the placement used by the Test panel resulted in a lower item missing data rate for school enrollment status (4.8 percent) than the placement used by the Control panel (5.4 percent).

Does the placement of the PPOB questions directly before the language spoken questions affect the item missing data rates, response distributions, or reliability for the language spoken questions?

In general, there were no notable significant differences in the response distributions or reliability measures of any of the language questions between the two placements of PPOB used by the Control and Test panels. However, the placement used by the Control panel resulted in lower item missing data rates for non-English-language-spoken-at-home status and English speaking ability (4.9 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively) than the placement used by the Test panel (6.9 percent and 2.1 percent).

For each mode of data collection, do the two placements have differential item missing data rates, response distributions, or reliability of the data?

In general, there were no notable significant differences among the response distributions or reliability measures of father’s and mother’s place of birth between the two placements of PPOB used by the Control and Test panels, regardless of the mode of data collection. However, the placement used by the Control panel resulted in lower item missing data rates in the mail mode for both father’s and mother’s place of birth (8.0 percent and 6.9 percent, respectively) than the placement used by the Test panel (8.6 percent and 8.0 percent, respectively). When considering only the households whose data was collected by CATI or CAPI, there was no significant difference in item missing data rates for either PPOB question between the two placements used by the Control and Test panels.

For each mail response stratum, do the two placements have differential item missing data rates, response distributions, or reliability of the data?

In general, there were no notable significant differences among the response distributions or reliability measures of father’s and mother’s place of birth between the two placements of PPOB used by the Control and Test panels, regardless of the mail response stratum. However, the placement used by the Control panel resulted in lower item missing data rates in the high response area stratum for both father’s and mother’s place of birth (6.4 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively) than the placement used by the Test panel (7.2 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively). When considering only the households in the low response area stratum, there was no significant difference in item missing data rates for either PPOB question between the two placements used by the Control and Test panels.

Does either placement elicit respondent or interviewer behaviors that may contribute to interviewer or respondent error?

No, there were no notable significant differences among either respondent or interviewer behaviors between the Control and Test panels for either the father’s or mother’s place of birth questions.

Component ID: #ti955618567

Recommendations

The results of the 2010 ACS Content Test demonstrated that questions on PPOB are clearly understood by respondents and provide consistent and reliable data. Based on these results, the Census Bureau recommended that both questions on parental place of birth be included in the ACS starting in 2013 using the question format tested and in the placement used by the Control panel (i.e., between the year of entry and school enrollment questions). The results of the ACS 2010 Content Test have also demonstrated that, if the Control placement were to be used, there is currently enough space on the ACS questionnaire for both questions on parental place of birth.

The Census Bureau believes there is added value in collecting information about PPOB, though some may feel that this topic is somewhat duplicative when collected in connection with existing survey questions on race, Hispanic origin, and ancestry. Adding the PPOB questions to the questionnaire in 2013 would be done as part of a multi-year process to further examine the relationship of the data for these topics. The ACS data would also be evaluated in connection with results from the 2010 Census Alternative Questionnaire Experiment, and this combined research would be used in determining recommendations for which questions would remain on the ACS at the conclusion of this process. The Census Bureau plans to provide various opportunities for public comment as well as dialogue with groups that are especially interested in these data as we refine the plans and share results on this cross-topical research.

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