HISPAN - Don't Know and NA?


I am looking to identify March CPS respondents of Hispanic/Latino descent, but the documentation for the HISPAN variable is somewhat unclear.

What do Don’t Know and NA mean for this item? Does it mean these individuals said, yes to the question of hispanic origin, but do not know their more specific origin? Or is it that these people responded I don’t know or NA to the question, are you of hispanic origin?

Any help would be appreciated!


As the Description and Comparability Tab mention, the survey question for HISPAN was much more direct beginning in 2003. In previous years, the information was collected by asking, “What is the origin or descent of each person in this household?” and asking the respondent to select the appropriate category from a limited number of choices on a flashcard (including “another group not listed.”) This means that the “Do not know” category was available for respondents who claimed to not know about the origin or descent of specific people in the household. Additionally, the “N/A or no response” category indicates respondents who did not fill in any answer to this question. Both answers can be treated as “missing,” but they are technically two different types of missing observations and that is why there are two distinct codes.