Household Composition

Household Composition

Created Variables

TYPE OF RESIDENCE.  These variables reflect the type of residence in which the R was living at each survey point (e.g. own dwelling unit, in parental household, jail, etc.).  Although these variables exist for each year, they are only actually created or compiled from multiple versions of the Household Interview from 1979-1986.  A single version of the Household Interview was used beginning in 1987.

 

Important Information About Using Household Composition Data

  • Some familiarity with the following survey instruments (see "Survey Instruments" section of this guide for descriptions of each of these instruments) which gather information on households is necessary: 

    • the NLSY79 Household Interview Forms
    • the NLSY79 "Household Enumeration"
    • the NLSY79 Face Sheet
    • and the household screeners that were used to select respondents for the NLSY79 cohort
  • This section does not contain information pertaining to variables about the characteristics or experiences of household members, the presence of partners within the household, or geographical areas of residence.  Any information collected specifically on household members will be in specific topics of interest, such as age, sex, educational status, and so forth.  The availability of information on partners is discussed in the "Marital Status, Marital Transitions & Attitudes" section of this guide. 
  • Income of partners is omitted from 'Total Net Family Income', family size, and family income variables.  Inferring a monetary relationship between household members who do not have a legal relationship by their own design is more tenuous than inferring a monetary relationship between designated family members.  Therefore, partners are excluded.  You can easily add or subtract from the family size by designating your own qualifying relationships.
  • Spousal pairs are inconsistent for three respondents.  In the created relationship codes for household members (R00001.51, R00001.53), respondents 9707, 8522, and 1414 are considered spouses of 9706, 8521, and 1413, respectively.  However, 9706 is considered 9707's partner, 8521 is considered 8522's "other non-relative," and 1413 is considered 1414's husband or brother-in-law.  These assigned relationships are reflective of respondents' own explanations of the relationships.  Relationship codes linking respondents may be weak outside of immediate family relationships. 
  • Do not use the 1982 'Version of Household Record from Last Interview' as a substitute for the missing 1981 version because it may contain inaccuracies and because not all 1981 interviewees were interviewed in 1982.

This section describes variables related to household and family composition, household identification, linkages between members of multiple respondent households, and household residence.

1.  Household Members: The term "household" refers to all individuals sharing the respondent's primary residence at the time of the interview.  For respondents living in temporary quarters (except temporary military quarters), the usual residence is defined as that person's permanent residence.  For those living in their own dwelling unit or in military family housing, the usual residence is the person's dwelling unit.  For example, if a male college student is living in a temporary residence, such as a fraternity, those who share his permanent residence, such as his parents' address, would be considered his household members.  However, if that same college student were living in his own apartment, all those living in his apartment would be considered his household members. 

Persons analyzing military households should note that household screener information was not collected for persons in the military sample.  Thus, while military units are included in the total 8,770 unique households, military units cannot be multiple respondent households. Household specification for those respondents enlisted in the military is as follows:  (1) for those in the military who are married but living in military quarters other than military family housing, the household is the household of the respondent's spouse, and (2) for those in the military who are unmarried, no household information is recorded.

During PAPI surveys, information about a respondent's household was gathered during a separately administered household interview.  Three different Household Interview Forms "Household Interview Forms" were used prior to 1987: 

  • Version A was completed by a parent of those respondents living in a parental household
  • Version B was administered to youth not living at a permanent address
  • and Version C was answered by those respondents living in their own dwelling unit or independent living quarters

Table 1 details, by survey year, the relevant universes and residence types specific to each version; notes on variations in administration of the forms are included.  A series of variables entitled 'Version of Household Record Used' is available for the 1979-80 and 1982-86 survey years.  To determine the version of the household interview used in 1981, it is necessary to match information from the variable, 'Type of Residence R is Living In,' to residence information that was included on the three different forms.  Beginning in 1987, only one version of the household interview was used, as all respondents were 22 or older and living predominantly on their own.  Since the introduction of CAPI interviews in 1993, household information has been collected in the first section of the main questionnaire rather than in a separate instrument.

All members of the respondent's household are enumerated each survey year on the household record; in 1978, household members were listed on the household screener.  The relationship generally listed for each household member on the household record is relative to the youth respondent, such as 'Household Record - Relationship to Youth Member # 1.'  For variables from the screener and for one series of 1979 household record variables, the relationship of household members (only family members in the screener) is relative to the householder.  Anyone who lives in the residence but is temporarily away is listed; anyone who is there only temporarily is removed from the listing.  For the screener and for interviews in which the respondent lives in a new household, that is, living with new people rather than living at a new address, the householder generally is listed first, followed by a spouse; any children; any other relatives; and any roomers, boarders, hired help, or other usual unrelated residents.

Table 1. Guide to the HouseholdForms: NLSY79 1979-2012

Year Household Version Conducted with R's Residence
1979 Version A
Version B1
Version B2
Version C
Parent of R only
Youth Respondent
Youth Respondent
Youth Respondent
Parental home
Dorm, jail, hospital, temporary living quarters
Military sample member
Own dwelling unit, orphanage, religious institution, other living quarters
1980 Version A
Version B
Version C
Parent of R only
Youth Respondent
Youth Respondent
Parental home
Dorm, jail, hospital, mil/temp living quarters
Own dwelling unit, orph, relig, mil/other living quarters 2
1981 Version A
Version B
Version C
Parent of R only
Youth Respondent
Youth Respondent
Parental home 1
Dorm, jail, hospital, mil/temp living quarters
Own dwelling unit, orph, relig, mil/other living quarters 2
1982 Version A
Version B
Version C
Parent of R only
Youth Respondent
Youth Respondent
Parental home 1
Dorm, jail, hospital, mil/temp living quarters
Own dwelling unit, orph, relig, mil/other living quarters 2
1983 Version A
Version B
Version C
Parent of R only
Youth Respondent
Youth Respondent
Parental home 3
Dorm, jail, hospital, mil/temp living quarters
Own dwelling unit, orph, relig, mil/other living quarters 4
1984 Version A
Version B
Version C
Parent of R only
Youth Respondent
Youth Respondent
Parental home 3
Dorm, jail, hospital, mil/temp living quarters
Own dwelling unit, orph, relig, mil/other living quarters 5
1985 Version A
Version B
Version C
Youth R or Parent
Youth Respondent
Youth Respondent
Parental home 6
Dorm, jail, hospital, mil/temp living quarters
Own dwelling unit, orph, relig, mil/other living quarters 4
1986 Version A
Version B
Version C
Youth R or Parent
Youth Respondent
Youth Respondent
Parental home 6
Dorm, jail, hospital, mil/temp living quarters
Own dwelling unit, orph, relig, mil/other living quarters 4
 1987-2012 One HH version only Youth respondent only Any residence
 
1   Includes youth respondents under 18, living in other parent's or spouse's parents' home.
2  Includes youth respondents over 18, living in other parent's or spouse's parents' home.
3  Preferred version of household interview for youth respondents living in other parent's or spouse's parents' home.
4  Permissible (though not preferred) version of household interview for youth respondents living in other parent's or spouse's parents' home.
5  Included some youth respondents still in parental household (with explanation as to circumstances--code "17" added).
6  Included youth respondents in other parent's or spouse's parents' home (codes "18" and "19" added to reflect whether household interview conducted with the youth respondent or the parent).

2.  Family Members: Within the listing of household members, family units are identified through family unit numbers and relationship codes.  A family unit includes all those related by blood, marriage, or adoption.  For each member of the household in every survey year, including the 1978 screener, the family unit number is listed on the "Household Enumeration" or the screener, such as 'Household Record - Family Unit # 1 Member # 1.'  All family members in an interrelated group will share a family unit number, with number 1 assigned to the respondent's family.  Each additional interrelated group or individual adult sharing the household but not related to another group or individual in the household constitutes an additional family unit.  For example, if Mr. and Mrs. Brown are boarders in the same house with Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the Smiths are the first family unit and the Browns are a second family unit.  The reliability of 1979-92 family unit numbers beyond those assigned to the respondent's family is questionable.  Beginning in 1993, family units were assigned electronically; the definition of a family unit remains the same.  Codes were added for partner's family/relations.  All others are assigned a code of "9."

An enumeration of a respondent's children is also available.  Several variables have been created as part of the Supplemental Fertility File (area of interest "Fertility and Relationship History/Created"), including variables such as '# of Own Children in Household,' 'Age of Youngest Child in Household,' and a variety of variables for each biological child listed, with some exceptions, in order of age.  Unedited variables from the Children's Record Form (areas of interest "Child Record Form/Biological" and "Child Record Form/Nonbiological") are also available for both biological and nonbiological children.  If there is a discrepancy between household rosters versus marriage event histories use the marriage event histories rather than the household roster data. See the "Fertility" section of this guide for more information about the collection of information on the respondent's children.

Additionally, information about household members includes, sex of the member, their relationship to the respondent, age, highest grade completed, and whether the member receives pay for work (age restrictions apply.)

Finally, information on whether the mother and father of each child (in 1991, new children only) live in the household is available for the 1987-2012 survey years.  In all other years, information on whether the father of the child is present is available for children of female respondents.

3.  Family Size: Beginning with the 1990 release, a family size variable, comparable to the family size variable created for the computation of the 'Total Net Family Income' and 'Poverty Status' variables, was created for each year.  The variable is constructed by simply cycling through the household record "relationship codes" and increasing the family size by one each time a qualifying relationship relative to the respondent is encountered.  Qualifying relationships include all relations by blood, marriage, and adoption.  Foster relationships, partners, boarders, guardians, and other individuals are not considered family members in the creation of this variable.

Program Derivation: The SPSS program statements for a sample survey year (1979-92) FAMILY SIZE variable are as follows:

COUNT FAMSZXX=RELR1 TO RELR15 (0 THRU 32,37 THRU 44,47 THRU 49)

IF (WEIGHTXX EQ 0) FAMSZXX=-5

After 1993, the roster was expanded to accommodate up to 20 individuals.  The SPSS program is the same but the number of relationships to check is five larger.  Additionally, the respondent is not on the household roster after 1992, so FAMSZXX is initialized to "1."

Household Identification and Linkages:The NLSY79 screening procedure allowed more than one member of a household to be selected for interviewing.  The original 12,686 respondents were members of 8,770 households; 6,742 respondents or 53 percent of the sample were members of households from which more than one respondent originated, while 5,944 respondents or 47 percent were members of single respondent households (Table 2).  To establish linkage of respondents originating from the same household, variables identify other interviewed household members and their relationships as of the 1979 interview.  The 1979 variable providing the unique household identification number of each household is R00001.49, 'Household Identification Number' (HHID).  The same HHID is assigned to all respondents who originated from the same household in 1979.  In multiple-respondent households, the HHID corresponds to the lowest respondent 'Identification Code' of all respondents interviewed in that household; in single-respondent households, the HHID corresponds to the respondent 'Identification Code.'  The HHID variable was constructed using other created variables from the NLSY79 main data set and exists only for 1979.  Multiple respondent households can also be identified through variables that identify other respondents in the same household and their relationship to the first respondent.  Reference numbers include R00001.50-R00001.61, for example, 'Identification Code of 1st Other Interviewed Youth in R's Household.'

Table 2. Distribution of Respondents Living within Single and Multiple Respondent Households: NLSY79

Household Type 1 Households Respondents % of Sample2
Single Respondent Households 5944 5944 46.9
 
Multiple Respondent Households 2826 6742 53.1
  2 Respondent Households 1985 3970 31.3
  3 Respondent Households 634 1902 15.0
  4 Respondent Households 170 680 5.4
  5 Respondent Households 32 160 1.3
  6 Respondent Households 5 30 0.2
 
Total 8770 12686 100.0
 
1 Household types are based on information gathered during the 1978 household screening.
2 Numbers have been rounded up to the nearest tenth.

Although these matches represent unique samples for a number of research topics, be aware that matches may be not be demographically representative due to the age restrictions applied to all members chosen from a household.  The primary types of relationships that existed among respondents within multiple respondent households at the time the surveys began included brothers, sisters, husbands, and wives (Table 3).  Other relationships included cousins, brothers- and sisters-in-law, step-brothers or -sisters, and other types of household members.

Table 3. Number of NLSY79 Civilian Respondent Pairs Interviewed in 1979 and 1992

Type of Pair Respondent Members Households
1979 1992 1979 1992
Siblings 5863 4806 2448 2149
  Two Siblings 3386 2744 1693 1572
  Three Siblings 1725 1427 575 446
  Four Siblings 604 519 151 116
  Five Siblings 130 99 26 13
  Six Siblings 18 17 3 2
 
Spouses 1 334 216 167 120
 
1 Excludes three cases in which the relationship assigned to the respondent pair is "spouse" for only one member of the pair.

Household Residence: Household residence refers to the type of dwelling or living situation of the respondent.  Household residence information is available for the respondent at each survey point, for the respondent during his or her childhood, and for the respondent's children during recent surveys.  The variable 'Type of Residence R is Living In' classifies the respondent's actual place of residence at the time of each survey.  From 1979-86, it was created based upon responses to several questions asking about different types of dwelling units.  In these years, several versions of the Household Interview Forms (the instrument completed before the main questionnaire and used to construct the household enumeration) existed.  The universes for these different versions were dependent upon the type of dwelling unit in which the respondent lived (parental home, own dwelling unit, individual or group quarters), the sample type of the respondent (military or civilian), and who answered the household interview section questions (respondent or parent).  The responses to questions designating type of residence from each of these versions were combined into one variable reflecting type of residence for the entire sample.

Beginning in 1987, the several versions of the Household Interview Forms were combined and all types of residences were coded in one question.  Therefore, after 1986, this question is no longer considered a "created" variable.  The 'Type of Residence R is Living In' variables include categories such as dorm, fraternity or sorority, hospital, jail or juvenile detention center, orphanage, religious institution, own dwelling unit, parents' household, and specific types of military quarters.  The codes assigned to response categories for type of residence in 1979 differ significantly from those in other survey years.  Also, in earlier years, respondents living in parental homes were treated as valid skips; in later years, these respondents were assigned a separate code that differs by year.

Retrospective information describing the respondent's childhood living arrangements was collected during 1988 in a three-part series of questions on the Childhood Residence Calendar.  In Part 1, the respondent's identification of any type of parent with whom he or she lived for four or more months was recorded. Coding categories included biological, adoptive, or stepmother or father for each age from birth through 18 years, for example, 'Lived with Biological Mother at Birth,' 'Lived with Adoptive Father at Age 16.'  Ages at which the respondent stopped living with a parent, the reason for ending shared living arrangements, and the frequency of visitation with the absent parent during the first year after coresidence ended were also collected.  For those ages when the respondent reported not living with a parent, information was collected in part 2 of the Childhood Residence Calendar on:

  • coresidence with grandparent(s), other relative(s), foster parent(s), or friend(s)
  • residence in a children's home or orphanage, a group care home, a detention center/jail/prison, or another institution
  • use of another type of arrangement
  • for those ages ten and over, whether the respondent was left to be on his or her own

Variable titles for this series include 'Lived with Foster Parent(s) (Not Living With a Parent) at Age-7,'  'Lived in Children's Home/Orphanage (Not Living With a Parent) At Age-2,' 'Left to be on Own (Not Living With a Parent) at Age-15.'  The number of foster or group care arrangements experienced by the individual is also recorded.  Finally, in part 3 of this supplement for each age during which the respondent experienced more than one living arrangement when not living with a parent, the place at which s/he stayed the longest is identified. Data quality issues are discussed by Haurin (1991).

Information on the residence of respondents' children is available, for the most part, since the 1982 survey year.   Note that edited variables based on the 1989 and 1991 raw data are not available until the subsequent year's release.  These edited variables, cleaned and checked for consistency, include residences of each biological child in birth order (with some anomalies), such as 'Usual Residence of 7thChild,' and combine information collected for residence of children of male respondents with that of children of female respondents.  Coding categories include in the respondent's household, with other parent, with other relatives, in foster care, with adoptive parents, in a long-term care institution, away at school, deceased, lives part-time with both parents, lives part-time with the respondent and another person, and other.  The unedited variables upon which the edited variables are based can be found in the "Fertility" section of the main youth questionnaire and include residence of all biological children; residence of all children born by the time of the previous interview, collected annually since 1984; and residence of all children born since the last interview, collected since 1983.  Unedited residence information for nonbiological children is available for 1985, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992, and from 1994 forward.  Coding categories for all unedited variables are the same as for edited variables.

Comparison to Other NLS Cohorts: All biological children of NLSY79 mothers are included in the NLSY79 Child data set.  NLSY79 young adults, regardless of whether they are living with their mothers, complete a household interview almost identical to that in the main youth. 

Information on the respondent's household is available for all other cohorts for most survey years.  Data generally include the age, sex, relationship to the respondent, and educational attainment of all occupants; the enrollment status of those of school age; and the occupation and weeks worked of residents age 14 and older.  In the pre-1980 surveys of the Original Cohorts, data were generally collected only for family members living in the respondent's household and not for unrelated household members.  For more precise details about the content of each survey, consult the appropriate cohort's User's Guide using the tabs above for more information.

References

Haurin, R. Jean.  "Childhood Residence Patterns:  Evidence from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Work Experience of Youth."  Columbus, OH:  CHRR, The Ohio State University, 1991.

Morgan, William R.  "Sibling Influences on the Career Plans of Male and Female Youth."  Columbus, OH:  CHRR, The Ohio State University, 1983.

Survey Instruments and Documentation The 1988 childhood residence data were collected using questions in Section 16 "Childhood Residence" and the supplemental Childhood Residence Calendar.  Information on residence of respondent's children is collected in the "Fertility" section of the questionnaire.  Questions on distance of a respondent's child to the child's mother, father, or to the respondent also are located in the "Fertility" section.  The questions on distance from the respondent's residence to that of his or her father or mother can be found in the "Family Background" section of the 1979 questionnaire.  General information on the Supplemental Fertility File variables, such as the edited residence of children variables, can be found in Appendix 5 of the NLSY79 Codebook Supplement. A technical appendix in Morgan (1983) presents details on respondent sibling matching procedures.
Areas of Interest The family size and type of residence variables are included in the "Key Variables" area of interest.

Edited residence of children variables have been placed in "Fertility and Relationship History/Created," while unedited residence of children variables have been placed in the "Birth Record" and "Birth Record xxxx" areas of interest.

"Common" variables include the household identification numbers, identification numbers of other respondents in the same household, and relationship codes of those respondents.

Information from the household interview, which is transcribed onto the household enumeration, is included in "Household Record."

The distance from the respondent's residence to that of each child not living in the household, as well as the distance each child lives from his or her mother (for children of male respondents) or father (for children of female respondents), is available in the "Birth Record xxxx" area of interest for 1984-86, 1988, 1990, 1992, and 1994-2012. The distance from the respondent's residence to the residence(s) of the respondent's mother and father was collected during the 1979 interview.