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BUS 138 — Chapter 4, Secondary Data Assignment
I handed out a study by Pew Research on people’s attitudes toward the internet. The study’s target
population for the survey all US adults, 18 years of age and older, living in all 50 states and the District of
Columbia. However, the methodology section noted that the actual sampling frame (the list from which
the sample was actually taken) consisted of US adults who had telephones (either landline or cell phone)
and who spoke either English or Spanish. This is typical of most surveys conducted in the US.
Suppose you have a new job with a company in which you ARE the marketing department. The CEO of
the company believes that an update of one of their products should make it more appealing to
potential customers. She wants to do a marketing research survey, but, as the child of immigrant
parents whose English is poor, is worried that the language restriction typical with surveys will end up
with misleading results on that account. Your boss tasks YOU with the assignment to determine, using
Census data, an approximate percentage of US adults whose opinion is NOT included in this survey
because either
1) They do not have either telephones or land lines
2) They do not speak either English or Spanish.
As a first step, I suggest that you use the internet, or ask for help at the MLK Jr Library, to find what data
sources are available to answer these two questions. Information for the second question is most likely
to come from US Census information taken in the 2010 Census. However, you should also see if later
surveys (e.g., the American Community survey) used to update Census figures are helpful in getting
revised numbers. (Remember, this should also be restricted to US adults 18 and over). Information for
the first question may or may not be available from Census data. The librarians might be able to guide
you to useful sources.
Using the information you find, you will determine
1) The percentage of US adults who have neither cell phones nor land lines.
2) The percentage of US adults who speak neither English nor Spanish.
3) Using the two percentages above, an estimate of what percentage of US adults are EXCLUDED
from telephone surveys that interview either English or Spanish speakers only. I would suggest
drawing pictures (e.g., a Venn diagram) before giving your boss the answer to this question to
make sure you aren’t double-counting in your estimate.
Feel free to ask me for help, especially with how to tackle question 3). However you should make some
attempts on your own before you see me, and bring your attempts along with you so we can discuss
how you thought about this problem.
I am not saying this is ‘the answer’ but it
might be helpful with your HW if you haven’t
already found it
See the attachment, which I got from googling “census languages spoken”
Language information can be gotten from the US Census Bureau. There is the Census
done every 10 years, but the American Community Survey provides updates through
surveys, not census.
If googling doesn’t help, try going to the google scholar search, although you probably
will have to wade through a lot of stuff that isn’t pertinent (e.g., we are interested in
adults 18+ who would answer surveys, not in the language abilities of little kids from
Cantonese-speaking families in grammar school).
However, skim some papers that look like they might be doing similar things in a
different context – they might have already done a lot of your work for you.
Let me add this: I am not looking for The Right Answer. I am looking at how you attack
the problem: What did you find that might be helpful? (Race is NOT helpful. Many
people who list themselves as Hispanic have Spanish-speaking ancestors who lived
here before their area became part of the US. The farther the descendants are from the
immigrants, the more assimilated and better English they speak.) There are surveys
with questions on not just what languages are spoken at home, but how well people
speak English. The American Community surveys might provide more on languages
and you should hunt up those. Then there is the issue of telephones. If the surveys only
survey by telephones, how many people are missed? Do you expect that to be
independent of how good their English is? Why or why not?
Mostly what I am interested in is how thoroughly you are trying to get this estimate, not
in the final number itself. Convince me that you’ve done a lot of research and looked at
a lot of REASONABLE sources and made DEFENSIBLE AND REASONABLE
ASSUMPTIONS, and you will do ok on this assignment.
English-Speaking Ability of the Foreign-Born
Population in the United States: 2012
American Community Survey Reports
By Christine P. Gambino, Yesenia D. Acosta,
and Elizabeth M. Grieco
June 2014
ACS-26
INTRODUCTION
English-speaking ability is an important topic surrounding immigration in the United States. For the foreign
born, fluency in English is associated with greater
earnings and occupational mobility.1, 2 Conversely, the
presence of many people with limited English ability
requires state and local governments to make costly
adjustments, such as providing English as a Second
Language classes in schools and translating official
forms into multiple languages.3, 4, 5
English is not the native language of most immigrants
in the United States. However, many do arrive knowing
how to speak English, especially from countries where
English is widely used. These include not only countries such as Canada, Jamaica, and the United Kingdom,
where English is the primary language, but also countries where English is an official language, such as
India, Nigeria, and the Philippines.6 Many others learn
English through years of study or practice prior to
immigrating to the United States or while living in the
United States.
1
Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix. “A Profile of Limited
English Proficient Adult Immigrants,” Peabody Journal of Education,
2010. 85(4): 511–534.
2
Sherrie A. Kossoudji. “English Language Ability and the Labor Market Opportunities of Hispanic and East Asian Immigrant Men,” Journal
of Labor Economics, 1988. 6(2): 205–228.
3
Arlene Ortiz and Shirley Woika. “Teaching to the Letter of the Law,”
Language Magazine, July 2013. Accessed April 29, 2014,
.
4
Bruce A. Evans and Nancy H. Hornberger. “No Child Left Behind:
Repealing and Unpeeling Federal Language Education Policy in the
United States,” Language Policy, 2005, 4: 87–106.
5
Fernanda Santos. “Mayor Orders New York to Expand
Language Help,” New York Times, July 23, 2008. Accessed April 29,
2014, .
6
Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook 2013-14. Field
Listing: Languages. Washington, DC. 2013. Accessed April 29, 2014,
.
U.S. Department of Commerce
Economics and Statistics Administration
U.S. CENSUS BUREAU
census.gov
WHO ARE THE FOREIGN BORN?
The U.S. Census Bureau uses the term foreign born to
refer to anyone who is not a U.S. citizen at birth. This
includes naturalized U.S. citizens, lawful permanent
residents (immigrants), temporary migrants (such as
foreign students), humanitarian migrants (such as
refugees and asylees), and persons illegally present
in the United States. The terms native and native
born refer to anyone born in the United States,
Puerto Rico, a U.S. Island Area (e.g., Guam), or
abroad of a U.S. citizen parent or parents.
There is considerable diversity in English use and
English-speaking ability among the foreign born.
Research has shown that educational level plays a part,
as those foreign born who have a bachelor’s degree or
higher are more likely to have higher English-speaking
ability than those with less than a high school education.7, 8 English-speaking characteristics are also
related to time spent living in the United States.9 Many
foreign-born individuals with long periods of residence
in the United States speak English well. However, some
have limited English-speaking ability or may not speak
English at all, even after residing in the United States
for many years.
Using data from the 2012 American Community Survey
(ACS), this report examines English use at home and
7
Julia Beckhusen, Raymond J.G.M. Florax, Thomas de Graaff,
Jacques Poot, and Brigitte Waldorf. “Living and Working in Ethnic
Enclaves: Language Proficiency of Immigrants in U.S. Metropolitan
Areas,” Papers in Regional Science, 2013. 92(2): 305–328.
8
Edith K. McArthur. Language Characteristics and Schooling in the
United States, A Changing Picture: 1979 and 1989. National
Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Government
Printing Office. 1993.
9
Calvin Veltman. “Modelling the Language Shift Process of Hispanic
Immigrants,” International Migration Review, 1988. 22(4): 545–562.
English-speaking ability among the
foreign born, focusing on the relationships between English-speaking
ability and place of birth, level of
education, and years spent living
in the United States. While previous American Community Survey
reports include both the native
and foreign born, this report will
focus on English language use and
English-speaking ability
among only the foreign-born
population.10, 11
Figure 1.
Percentage of the Foreign-Born Population Who
Spoke a Language Other Than English at Home:
1980 to 2012
(Foreign-born population aged 5 and older. Data based on sample. For
information on confidentiality protection, sampling error, nonsampling error,
and definitions, see www.census.gov/acs/www/)
83.0
84.7 84.6
79.1
70.2
Language Data From the
American Community Survey
Data on English-speaking ability
and language spoken at home are
collected and tabulated annually in
the ACS for all people aged 5 and
older.12 Based on self-assessment,
ACS data about English-speaking
ability represent the respondent’s
perception about his or her own
ability, or the responses may reflect
the perception of a household
member who answered the ACS
questions for the entire household.
The ACS does not provide data on
English-speaking ability for those
who speak only English at home.
Data on English use and Englishspeaking ability are classified into
one of five categories: 1) spoke
only English at home, or spoke
a language other than English at
home and spoke English, 2) “very
well,” 3) “well,” 4) “not well,” or 5)
“not at all.”
10
Camille Ryan. Language Use
in the United States: 2011. American
Community Survey Reports, ACS-22.
U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC. 2013.
11
Hyon B. Shin and Robert A. Kominski.
Language Use in the United States: 2007.
American Community Survey Reports, ACS12. U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC.
2010.
12
The language questions on the 2012
ACS mail questionnaire can be found on page
8, question 14 of the English and Spanish
language versions at .
2
1980
1990
2000
2010 2012
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 1980 to 2000 Decennial Censuses and the 2010 and
2012 American Community Survey, 1-year estimates.
As part of the 2012 ACS data collection, each household member
was asked: “Does this person speak
a language other than English at
home?” If “yes,” then two followup questions were asked: “What is
this language?” and “How well does
this person speak English? (Very
well, well, not well, or not at all).”
If “no,” then the specific language
and English-speaking ability questions were skipped. People who
spoke languages other than English
but did not use them at home
were excluded from the follow-up
questions.
FINDINGS
The proportion of foreign
born who spoke a language
other than English at home has
increased since 1980.
The size of the foreign-born population has increased over the last
three decades, from 14.1 million
in 1980 to 40.0 million in 2010. In
2012, the foreign born numbered
40.8 million, including 40.6 million
aged 5 years and over.
The proportion of the foreignborn population who spoke a
language other than English at
home also increased during this
period. In 1980, 70 percent of the
foreign-born population aged 5
and older spoke a language other
than English at home, rising to 85
percent in 2010 (Figure 1). In 2012,
the proportion remained at 85
percent.
U.S. Census Bureau
Table 1.
Language Spoken at Home by English-Speaking Ability of
the Foreign-Born Population: 2012
(Foreign-born population aged 5 and older. Numbers in thousands. Data based on
sample. For information on confidentiality protection, sampling error, nonsampling
error, and definitions, see www.census.gov/acs/www/)
Language at home and English-speaking
Margin of
Margin of
ability
Estimate error (±)1
Percent error (±)1
    Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Spoke only English at home . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Spoke a language other than English at home
and English-speaking ability
Very well. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Well . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Not well . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Not at all. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
40,589
6,232
110
43
100.0
15.4
X
0.1
14,017
8,601
7,838
3,901
76
55
52
43
34.5
21.2
19.3
9.6
0.2
0.1
0.1
0.1
X Not applicable.
1
Data are based on a sample and are subject to sampling variability. A margin of error is a measure
of an estimate’s variability. The larger the margin of error is in relation to the size of the estimate, the less
reliable the estimate. When added to and subtracted from the estimate, the margin of error forms the 90
percent confidence interval.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, 1-year estimates.
About half of the foreign-born
population reported having
high English-speaking ability.
Nationwide, among the nearly 41
million foreign born aged 5 and
older, about 6 million spoke only
English at home (Table 1). Foreign
born who spoke only English at
home, or who spoke another language at home and spoke English
“very well,” are considered to have
high English-speaking ability.13
When combined, about half of the
13
Robert Kominski. How Good is “How
Well?” An Examination of the Census EnglishSpeaking Ability Question. Presented at the
1989 Annual Meeting of the American Statistical Association, Washington, DC. August
6–11, 1989.
U.S. Census Bureau
foreign-born population had high
English-speaking ability in 2012.
This includes 15 percent who
spoke only English at home and
over one-third (35 percent) of the
foreign-born population who spoke
a non-English language at home
and also spoke English “very well.”
Those who do not have high
English-speaking ability are often
grouped together as having limited, or less than “very well,”
English-speaking ability.14, 15 Half
of the foreign-born population
spoke English less than “very well”
in 2012 (50 percent), about the
same proportion as in the 2010
American Community Survey (52
percent) and the 2000 Census (51
percent).16 In 2012, this included
21 percent of the foreign born who
spoke English “well,” 19 percent
who spoke English “not well,” and
10 percent who spoke English “not
at all.”
About nine in ten foreign
born spoke a language other
than English at home in Texas,
California, and Illinois.
Nationwide, 85 percent of the
foreign-born population spoke a
language other than English at
home, but this proportion varied
widely by state (Table 2). There
were six states where the percent
of the foreign-born population who
spoke a non-English language at
home was significantly higher than
the national percentage: Texas,
California, Illinois, Nebraska, New
McArthur, op. cit.
U.S. Census Bureau. Profile of Selected
Demographic and Social Characteristics for
the Foreign-Born Population: 2000. Census
2000 Special Tabulations (STP-159). 2005.
Accessed April 29, 2014, .
16
The percentages of the foreign-born
population who spoke English less than “very
well” from the 2000 Census, 2010 ACS, and
2012 ACS are all statistically different from
one another.
14
15
3
Table 2.
Language Spoken at Home by English-Speaking Ability of the Foreign-Born Population by
State: 2012
(Foreign-born population aged 5 and older. Numbers in thousands. Data based on sample. For information on confidentiality
protection, sampling error, nonsampling error, and definitions, see www.census.gov/acs/www/)
Foreign born
Geography
Spoke a language other than English at home
Spoke English less than “very
Total
well”1
Percent of Margin of error
Percent of Margin of error
foreign born
(±)2
foreign born
(±)2
84.6
0.1
50.1
0.2
    United States. . . . . . . . . . . .
Number
40,589
Margin of error
(±)2
110
Alabama . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Alaska. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Arizona . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Arkansas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
California. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Colorado . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Connecticut. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Delaware. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
District of Columbia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Florida. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
162
52
871
128
10,264
502
493
76
89
3,730
6
4
17
5
51
13
13
5
5
32
77.8
85.2
84.2
81.8
90.4
83.5
77.8
78.6
70.1
81.0
2.1
2.7
0.8
2.1
0.2
1.0
1.1
3.5
3.5
0.4
47.2
41.2
49.9
51.9
56.7
47.7
41.2
37.3
32.5
46.9
2.7
3.7
1.0
2.8
0.3
1.4
1.2
3.5
3.5
0.5
Georgia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hawaii. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Idaho. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Illinois. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Indiana. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Iowa. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Kansas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Kentucky . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Louisiana. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Maine. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
933
250
96
1,780
300
136
185
135
168
47
17
10
6
21
9
6
6
6
7
3
82.0
84.4
80.2
89.8
82.7
80.1
85.5
78.8
82.2
58.6
1.1
1.4
2.5
0.5
1.4
1.9
1.5
2.3
1.9
3.7
46.1
53.0
49.2
52.1
47.2
46.8
51.6
44.7
47.8
26.4
1.1
1.9
2.5
0.8
1.8
2.4
1.9
2.7
2.3
3.6
Maryland. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Massachusetts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Michigan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Minnesota . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mississippi. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Missouri. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Montana. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Nebraska. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Nevada . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
New Hampshire. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
833
989
601
385
59
226
18
118
529
71
15
16
11
10
5
7
2
4
10
4
78.3

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