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Q:  

I am trying to get a sense of the American Community Survey (ACS). It is harder than I would have thought.

Am I correct in thinking that annually they survey approximately 3,000K households per year? Are the samples independent of each other - e.g., 2005 and 2006?

Finally, they do not seem to ask about country of birth. This seems odd although you might be able to make an estimate with ancestry and citizenship.

A:  

The ACS samples approximately 3,000,000 households annually. The first year of full implementation was 2005, although the group quarters population was excluded in that year. 2006 was the first year that included both a group quarters sample (200,000) and a household sample (3,000,000). You should refer to the following page for the full detail on the sample sizes for each state:

http://www.census.gov/acs/www/methodology/samplesizeanddataquality/

The samples are independent from each other.

Place of birth is an ACS item. It has detailed codes - US states and countries outside the US.

The easiest way for you to look at the microdata is through the University of Minnesota IPUMS site:

http://usa.ipums.org/usa/

You have to register to use it, but you get instant access after registration. The ACS samples show up after 2000 census.

http://www.census.gov/acs/www/

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