Answers Your Data Questions: The Crosstab Quandary

Here at, our staff has been traveling throughout California to introduce this resource to people who work on behalf of children. In all of these meetings, we get excellent questions about the availability and limitationsof the data on our site. We thought we’d share some of those questions — and our answers — with you in a series of blog posts. If you have a question, feel free to post it as a comment here, or on our Data Questions page.

Today’s Question: There are so many topics of data available on Can I put together two different indicators to learn more about the population of children I serve? For example, can I combine your data on children in poverty and your data on asthma diagnoses to learn about the relationship between poverty and asthma?

Answer: Alas, the short answer to this question is no.

You cannot use kidsdata to run crosstabs, as they’re called, when data come from different sources, because the data were collected from different sets of children. For example, the asthma diagnosis data on come from the California Health Interview Survey, and data about children in poverty come from the American Community Survey. That means that we can’t use those two datasets to explore whether children living in poverty are more or less likely to be diagnosed with asthma. To do that, we’d need a single source that recorded a child’s family income level and whether or not the child had asthma.

However, within an individual source of data, we often offer multiple breakdowns for a given indicator. For example, on we offer dozens of measures of child and youth well being health from the California Healthy Kids Survey. Because the same students answered all the questions on that survey, it’s acceptable to compare the responses for different topics. You can explore how different risk behaviors (like drinking alcohol) vary by students’ level of connection to school, or by gender and grade level. For any indicator, if there are other breakdowns that you think we should add, we certainly would like to know; add a comment below.

Soon on, we’ll be offering the ability to compare multiple indicators for multiple regions, so that it’s easy to get a summary of how children are faring on a range of issues, across regions.

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Posted by Sarah Marxer and Felicity Simmons

This entry was posted on Friday, October 15th, 2010 at 1:53 pm. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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