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National Science Foundation National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
Using the American Community Survey as the Sampling Frame for the National Survey of College Graduates

Analytic Uses of ACS Data

 

The addition of the FOD item on the ACS (regardless of its final form) immediately presents opportunities to better understand the population with at least a bachelor's degree in the United States. However, analysis using the FOD item also present some challenges. For example, while analysts will have information on the highest level of educational attainment from the ACS, the FOD information will only be available for the bachelor's degree(s). This is not a common set of variables to have available together, so new analytic approaches might be needed to take this into account.

The ACS data could also be used both between NSCG cycles and to expand the types of analyses that could be done. For example, the ACS provides information for each member of the household. This information will be available for analysis and may be especially useful, along with the FOD information. Currently, the study of dual-career households is possible with ACS data, but only for occupation and education level. The FOD question on the ACS will improve such analyses for issues regarding the S&E workforce, especially since in-depth household information is not collected on the NSCG. The ACS data could also be utilized to analyze the impact of real-time events on the college-educated population. A supplemental sample to the NSCG could be considered using ACS sample households to provide deeper information on dual-career issues. Other options for analysis or indicators of the S&E workforce trends would be possible if the ACS data were to become available on a monthly basis. Then it is might be possible to create a monthly time series for key S&E data at very aggregate levels.

The ACS could also be used in other ways to improve timeliness and relevance of the S&E workforce information. For example, the ACS could provide a frame to do more frequent (and smaller) special-topic surveys. There is also the potential to address a topical interest directly in the ACS. Adding supplemental questions (questions that appear one time or that rotate in and out of use) on subjects of current interest or to help identify special population groups could be added where a model adopted for the ACS of a core set of questions asked every year with room for the addition of other questions on a one-time or periodic basis.





 
Using the American Community Survey as the Sampling Frame for the National Survey of College Graduates
Working Paper | NCSES 12-201 | August 2012