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Number of years spent in the U.S.

Codes and Frequencies

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For individuals born outside the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, YRSINUS indicates how long such persons had been in the United States. In most cases, this information was collected via the question, "In what year did you come to the United States to stay?" If the response to this question was "refused" or "don't know," the interviewer tried to collect the information via an alternatively phrased question: "About how long have you been in the United States?"

The data included in the public use files for YRSINUS are recodes of the responses to these questions, with each answer in the form of a calendar year converted to a number of years present. The calendar year format of the initial question would have increased the precision of responses by discouraging rounding; the recoded format (number of years present) is easier for researchers to analyze.


Apart from universe changes, this variable is largely comparable over time.

The one notable change affects only a few cases in which respondents did not answer the initial question ("In what year did you come to the United States?") and did answer the follow-up probe ("About how long have you been in the United States?")


The survey form for 1998-1999 states that answers of less than one year present should be coded "1" (i.e., grouped with answers meaning one year to less than two years); the form for 2000 forward states, "If less than one year given as a response, code the answer as '0'." The 1997 survey form did not discuss how to code answers referring to a period of less than 1 year for this follow-question. That year's form only allowed interviewers to record a number between 1 and 95, so presumably those who had been in the country for less than one year were given a code of "1" by the interviewer, as in 1998-1999.


  • 1989-1992: Persons age 18+ not born in one of the 50 states or D.C.
  • 1993-1996: Persons not born in one of the 50 states or D.C.
  • 1997: Sample adults age 18+ not born in the United States.
  • 1998-2018: All persons not born in one of the 50 U.S. States or D.C.


  • 1989-2018