At A Glance

Noteworthy Characteristics

  • Provides contextual information that may be useful when studying childhood obesity.
  • The census provides basic data about population and housing characteristics that directly affect how more than $400 billion per year in federal and state funding is allocated to local, state, and tribal governments.
  • For 2010, a limited number of questions were asked of every person (sex, age, race, Hispanic or Latino origin, household relationship) and each household (tenure, whether the unit was owned or rented) in the U.S. (i.e., short form).
  • The 2000 census was the last time additional questions were asked of a sample of persons and housing units (i.e., long form). These included queries regarding population and housing characteristics. In 2006 these statistics were made available on the American Community Survey



As required by law, to provide the population counts to determine how the number of congressional seats in the United States (U.S.) House of Representatives are apportioned among the 50 states.

Target Population

U.S. population.


Began in 1790 and is conducted every 10 years, with years ending in 0. The most recent year was 2010.


Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce


Sample Design


The 2010 census short form had no sampling design because every individual and housing unit was intended to be counted in the census. For the 2000 census long form, approximately one in six persons was included.

Sample Size

Census 2000 included 281.4 million individuals across the U.S. Census 2010 is expected to include more than 309 million individuals.

Special Note(s)

Learn more about how the Census 2000 was designed and implemented.

Key Variables


NameMethods of Assessment
AncestryInterview/questionnaire (last asked in Census 2000)
Disability (ADL/IADL*; cognitive; movement/physical; vision/hearing)Interview/questionnaire
Employment characteristicsInterview/questionnaire (last asked in Census 2000)
Hispanic or Latino originInterview/questionnaire
Marital statusInterview/questionnaire (last asked in Census 2000)
Place of birth, citizenship, and year of entryInterview/questionnaire (last asked in Census 2000)
School enrollment and educational attainmentInterview/questionnaire (last asked in Census 2000)


NameMethods of Assessment
Household relationshipInterview/questionnaire
Housing characteristicsInterview/questionnaire (last asked in Census 2000)
Tenure and vacancy characteristicsInterview/questionnaire

Special Note(s)

*ADL: Activities of Daily Living / IADL: Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

Data Access and Cost

Data Availability

Microdata Sample files will be available from the 2010 Census. Census 2000 One-percent Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) files are available. These files contain individual records for a 1-percent sample of individuals and housing units. Five-percent PUMS files also are available.


PUMS data are available free of charge.

Special Note(s)

Special tabulation requests for 2010 census data will be prepared by the Census Bureau. Additional tabulated data prepared by the Census Bureau and other public and private organizations also are available. These include a transportation planning package with information on commuters and commuting patterns.


Geocode Variable(s)

The Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) Files (See Data Access and Cost) contain geographic units known as super-Public Use Microdata Areas (super-PUMAs) and Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs). Each super-PUMA contains a minimum population of 400,000 and each PUMA contains a minimum population threshold of 100,000.

Existing Linkages

None noted.

Special Note(s)

Geographic equivalency files that show the relationship between the PUMA and standard Census 2000 geographic concepts (e.g., counties) are included.

Selected Publications

Census Bureau. State and Metropolitan Area Data Book: 2010 (7th edition). Washington (DC): U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, 2010.

Census Bureau. Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2010: The National Data Book. (129th edition) Washington (DC): U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, 2009.


Data Query System

Use the American FactFinder to easily obtain data from the Decennial Census.


2000 Census short form and long form technical documentation are both available.