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Recommended Reading: "The Value of the American Community Survey"May 12, 2015:
May 11, 2015: A new report from the Economics and Statistics Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce examines the important of the American Community Survey (ACS) for making data-based decisions about policy and economics.
"The Value of the American Community Survey: Smart Government, Competitive Business, and Informed Decisions," offers insights into the many ways that ACS data is used throughout the country.
The real value of the ACS lies in its ability--owing to its large sample size--to provide statistical information representing large and small communities and demographic groups.
Federal decision-makers use ACS data to inform the disbursement of over $400 billion a year in Federal funding--including funding for public health insurance programs.
Community leaders use ACS data to analyze how the needs of neighborhoods are evolving for the purposes of comprehensive planning and economic development.
- Businesses rely on ACS data to make marketing, location, and financial decisions.
ACS Question Topics
The report notes that the Federal government uses the ACS to inform 306 programs, with these programs using an average of 7.6 question topics each (See "Figure 4" from the report, at right).
Of the 2,338 topics covered by the ACS, the most commonly used by Federal programs is income, with 199 programs using the data on this topic.
- Questions about health insurance--a topic area important to SHADAC's work--are used by 25 different programs.
The Value of the ACS for Research
The ACS is a vital data source for researchers, whether academics or governmental analysts. According to the report:
Between 2005 and 2014, the number of scholarly citations of the ACS in the Nexis database jumped from 199 to 1,798--a nearly 9-fold increase.
- During the same time period, the number of hits for "American Community Survey" in Google Scholar jumped from 365 to 5,670--a more than 15-fold increase.
Futher Reading from SHADAC: Using the ACS for Health Policy Research
Comparing Federal Government Surveys That Count the Uninsured
Estimates of the number of people who are uninsured are available from several different sources. This brief provides an annual update to comparisons of uninsurance estimates from five federal surveys, including the American Community Survey. It presents trends in national estimates of uninsurance, presents the most recent available state-level estimates from these surveys, and describes the main reasons for variation in the estimates across the different surveys.
Using Recent Revisions to Federal Surveys for Measuring the Effects of the Affordable Care Act
This brief discusses recent revisions to several federal surveys, including the American Community Survey, that could be used to measure the impact of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), with a particular focus on how the surveys could be used to examine differences within and among states.
The brief provides: (1) An overview of changes to the surveys and how they relate to the ACA; (2) summaries of the surveys, including content, design, and sample sizes; and (3) information on obtaining estimates and data.