What data are available on private and public health insurance coverage for the population 18 years and over? This section reviews methods to answer that type of question and is focused on Census Bureau statistical programs. See related Web section for more detail.
The richness of demographic-economic data tabulated from the decennial censuses has long created a challenge for data users to locate subject matter data of interest; or, is it even tabulated? The addition of the annual American Community Survey has increased data analysis opportunities, but added to the challenge of finding the subject matter items that meet specific application needs. Ultimately, the user has resorted to the difficult-to-use, sometimes even difficult-to-locate, technical documentation. The ensuing challenge is to manually browse through the technical documentation pages to locate the data item and data item name used to access the data.
Using New Resources
As a part of the Census Bureau API resources, there are now options available to search for subject matter data tabulated from the decennial censuses, American Community Survey and related demographic economic statistical programs.
Visit the main page that lists datasets. From that page, individual “dataset item list Web pages” may be opened. Selected, more widely used, dataset item list Web pages are shown below. While these are very useful reference sections as they exist, there remain a few challenges to finding data — specific subject matter.
1) The browser Ctrl-F search tool does not provide multi-word, non-phrase, searches. For example, Age and Asian cannot be be searched in the same query using the browser Ctrl-F.
2) Even when the browser search tool yields successful searches, the list of lines/items shown in the Web page are only highlighted and not reduced in scope. It is very difficult to browse through rows/lines that are not relevant.
• Summary File 1 (8,919 items)
American Community Survey (ACS)
• ACS 2012 5 Year Data (23,534 E items)
With the ACS, the Census Bureau introduced the margin of error (MOE) estimate associated with every ACS item estimated. Unlike the decennial census item list Web pages, the ACS item list Web page includes a line/item for both the estimate and the margin of error estimate. The estimate item name ends with “E”; the MOE estimate item name is the same item name as for the estimate but ends with “M”.
Using CV XE GIS dBrowser to Search Dataset Item List Web Pages
The CV XE GIS dBrowser tool can be used for more advanced data item searching. The following graphic illustrates use of the dBrowse operation being used with the ACS 2012 “dataset item list file”. With Database>dBrowse started, the acs2012.dbf dataset item list file is opened. The query “at(‘M’,item)=0 .and. at(‘private’,itemdesc)>0 .and. at(‘insurance’,itemdesc)>0” is applied to the file. The results of the search are displayed in the graphic.
When the filter statement/expression “at(‘M’,item)=0 .and. at(‘private’,itemdesc)>0 .and. at(‘insurance’,itemdesc)>0” is applied, 68 items are located/displayed (of total items 44,689 in file) that meet the filter condition — as shown in the graphic above. There are three parts to the query connected by logical operator AND:
at(‘M’,item)=0 — include only estimate items, the ITEM field must not contain the character M.
at(‘private’,itemdesc)>0 — the case sensitive word ‘private’ must occur in the ITEMDESC field.
at(‘insurance’,itemdesc)>0 — the case sensitive word ‘insurance’ must occur in the ITEMDESC field.
The last item in the grid (see pointer) has these attributes:
ITEMDESC Male:!!18 to 24 years:!!With private health insurance
TABLEDESC B27002. Private Health Insurance Status by Sex by Age
More about structuring a query/search filter: using dbase query/filter expressions.
Dataset Items List Files
Download the dataset items list files zip file (requires no fee ProximityOne User Group userid). The zip file contains the dataset items list files for the 1990 Census, 2000 Census, 2010 Census and ACS datasets.
Each file is structured in the same manner. There are three fields for each record/item line entry. ITEM is the official name of the subject matter item used in a data access operation (e.g., in the DEDE subject matter items list). ITEMDESC is the item description for this specific item in the corresponding table. TABLEDESC is the table description/name that contains the item referenced by the ITEM and ITEMDESC fields. In this version, these three fields have been derived directly from the Census-sourced Web versions. ITEMDESC has been truncated to 100 characters. TABLEDESC has been truncated to 250 characters.
Item Search/Filter Considerations
There are other ways that searches/filtering can be performing instead of using the AT operation. See using dbase query/filter expressions. The operation “at(‘insurance’,itemdesc)>0” searches the field itemdesc (or ITEMDesc) searches all records for the case-sensitive literal ‘insurance’. Note that the operation “at(‘insuran’,itemdesc)>0” will likely yield the same result. Using the case-sensitive literal ‘Insurance’ will likely yield no or very few matches.
The operation “at(‘INSURANCE’,tabledesc)>0” searches the field tabledesc for the case-sensitive literal ‘INSURANCE’. This will technically process correctly. However, since the tabledesc value is the same for all items in that table, more items may be listed than desired. Generally, a query on ITEMDESC is preferred to a query on TABLEDESC.
Many spelling abbreviations are used in the Census sourced material; no modifications to the spelling have been made. This may affect search operations.
Support & DMI Web Sessions
Learn more about using resources described in this section. Join us in a Decision-Making Information Web session. There is no fee for these one-hour Web sessions. Each informal session is focused on a specific topic. The open structure also provides for Q&A and discussion of application issues of interest to participants. We can address your specific questions about finding relevant data and related applications.