Group quarter codes

There is are two categories in GQ, one labeled “Additional households under 1990 definition” and another one label “Additional households under 2000 definition”. Who are these people and should they be included under group quarters or as being in households?

Many thanks. Vicky

“Additional households under 1990 definition” refers to housing units that would be considered group quarters under the 1970 classification system, but are households under the 1990 system. Similarly, “Additional households under 2000 definition” refers to housing units that would be considered group quarters under the 1970 and 1990 classification systems, but are households under the 2000 system.

The comparability tab for GQ provides information about the differences between these definitions:

  • For the period 1940-1970 (excluding the 1940 100% dataset), group quarters are housing units with five or more individuals unrelated to the householder. This means that households under the 1970 classification system contain fewer than five individuals unrelated to the householder.

  • Before 1940 and in 1980-1990, units with 10 or more individuals unrelated to the householder are considered group quarters. Based on this section, households under the 1990 classification system contain fewer than 10 individuals unrelated to the householder.

  • In the 2000 census, 2010 census, the ACS and the PRCS, no threshold was applied; for a household to be considered group quarters, it had to be on a list of group quarters that is continuously maintained by the Census Bureau. In earlier years, a similar list was used, with the unrelated-persons rule imposed as a safeguard. As a result, households under the 2000 classification system can contain any number of unrelated individuals as long as the household is not on the list of sampled group quarters (e.g. incarcerated individuals sampled in institutions).

Whether to count respondents with GQ = 2 or 5 as households is an analytic decision for individual researchers to make. I recommend reviewing the documentation in the comparability tab in further detail when making your decision. The tab cautions users that while they can make a completely comparable definition of household across multiple years, including the 1940-1970 period, by selecting only households coded GQ=1, this narrow definition may improperly classify as group quarters many large households with servants or boarders prior to 1940. For replicating published ACS and post-2000 decennial census estimates of households, you will want to include GQ codes 1, 2, and 5 in your analysis. You might also review Ruggles & Brower (2003) for a further in-depth discussion of how US Census household definitions have changed over time.

Hello Ivan and sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

Thank you for your advice and all of this great detail. I had always included 1, 2, and 5 for households but was a bit thrown when someone called my attention to category 5 (additional households under 2000 definition) and pointed out that it was under the indentation of Group Quarters. But now I understand why. Apologies for not reading the documentation more carefully.

I work primarily with NYC data and have often come across these crazy households with 10 or more unrelated persons. In some cases, where appropriate, we deleted them from our sample thinking that Census had made an error. But in NYC, you never know!

Thanks again Ivan,