Measuring student-related housing units in Decennial Census/ACS

I am trying to measure changes in local housing supply using micro-data & census tract summaries in Decennial/ACS Census data, but I am finding it difficult to find information about college/university student-related housing. So far, I have connected dorm-bed counts by university from IPEDS to group quarters & age-specific population counts from Census data. I understand there is a GQTYPE designation for non-institutional group quarters that signifies ‘college dormitories.’

Over the past couple decades, there has been an increasing trend of universities creating student housing through partnerships with private developers. These ‘student housing’ arrangements appear to be privately owned and operated, but are purpose built for students and are populated under long-term contracts arranged with universities.

Has anyone at IPUMS encountered issues with this type of privately-run student housing? Has Census done anything that would capture this rise in mixed private-sector-run university-authorized student housing? Or would this type of housing be captured in the GQTYPE college dormitory variable?

This is a good question, but ultimately is one that really extends beyond the information captured by the public use census data. Therefore, it is probably worth contacting the US Census Bureau about this question. Although you are correct that the GQTYPE variable includes a “college dormitories” category, this category has not been identified in US Census samples since 2000. The comparability tab of the GQTYPE variable provides some additional documentation of the identification of college dormitories. Finally, the definition of group quarters has changed over time. In the 2000 census, 2010 census, and all ACS and PRCS samples housing units are classified as group quarters only if they belonged to a pre-specified list of such units. More detail on the comparability of group quarters over time is available here.

Thanks, Jeff.

I’ll contact Census and see if they have any guidance. If they respond with anything useful, I’ll try to post it here for future reference.