Household Composition

Household Composition

Created Variables

CV_HH_SIZE: Identifies the household size.

CV_HH_UNDER_6: Provides the number of household members under the age of 6 as of the survey date.

CV_HH_UNDER_18: the number of household members under the age of 18 as of the survey date.

CV_YTH_REL_HH_CURRENT. Reports the relationship of the youth to the primary adults in the household at the time of the survey (e.g., both biological parents, biological mother, adoptive parent[s]).  This variable is included in rounds 1-7 only.  In round 1, this variable was also created for various points in the youth's childhood (CV_YTH_REL_HH_AGE_x).

Created variables describing household net worth and total household income are discussed in Parent Characteristics, Assets & Debts, and Income


Important Information About Using Household Composition Data

1. During the interview, the respondent's answers to questions about household members are organized into a "household roster." This roster (grid of data) is considered the most complete source of information about household members.  Survey staff strongly recommend that researchers use the roster information whenever possible as it is more accurate and easier to use than the raw data. Edits to the household composition are posted to the rosters and not necessarily to the raw data. Roster items are presented as consolidated blocks of data in the data set and can be identified through their unique question names (For example, HHI_UID.01). Prefixes for the round 1 household roster question names begin with "HHI2_" and subsequent rounds question names are prefixed with "HHI" (the "2" is dropped). For detailed information on how to link household roster items across survey rounds, see the tutorial on Linking Roster Items across Rounds in the NLSY97.

2. In Round 1 through 6, the respondent's household is based on what the respondent considers to be his or her permanent household as reported in the household information section. This is not necessarily the same as where he or she is living at the time of the survey. Respondents who are in the military (or away at college or incarcerated) may report their spouse or children as being in the household, even though the answers in the fertility and marriage sections have the respondent separated from them. Beginning in round 7, the respondent's household is considered to be current residence.

3. Exercise caution when drawing conclusions based on household characteristics using NLSY97 data. The large number of multiple respondent households in the sample may skew the data on certain characteristics if the analysis is performed at the respondent level rather than at the household level.

4. Users should note that a number of inconsistencies were discovered during a review of the round 1 relationship data, and the relationship codes in the household roster were substantially revised for the release of the round 2 data.  Relationships involving NLSY97 youth respondents were given top priority; some relationships between other household members were updated in the process.  Survey staff place greater confidence in the accuracy of codes for relationships involving youth respondents. Corrections are posted to the household roster but not necessarily to the raw variables. 

In each survey round, The NLSY97 collects basic demographic information about each member of the respondent's household and establishes the relationships among household members. 

Collection of Data on Household Composition

1. Screener and Household Informant (round 1)

Age and date of birth information collected in the screener determine whether any household residents were in the age range for the NLSY97.  If a potentially eligible youth lived in the household, the extended screener solicited basic demographic data for each household occupant.  In this section, the household informant reported the gender, ethnicity (e.g., Hispanic, Latino, of Spanish origin), and race (e.g., white; black or African American; American Indian, Eskimo, or Aleut; Asian or Pacific Islander; or other) of each occupant.

The household roster, also administered to the household informant, collected further demographic information on household occupants: Highest grade level completed by each household occupant, highest degree received by those age 17 and above, and marital status of each occupant. Employment information included number of weeks that each resident above the age of 15 was self-employed or worked for pay at an employee job in 1996, usual number of hours worked per week during that period, and his or her current employment status. 

The round 1 household roster established the relationship of each person in the household to the youth and to each other.  Follow-up questions verified the exact relationship; see Figure 1 for definitions of relationships.  For example, if the household informant identified an occupant only as a "mother," an additional question asked the household informant if this person was a biological, adoptive, step-, or foster mother.  The survey collected the same type of information for a person only identified as a "father."  If occupants were listed as half siblings, the interviewer questioned the household informant on whether they shared a biological mother or a biological father.  Another set of questions determined if full siblings whose reported birth dates differed by a month or less were multiple births; if they were the same gender, the household informant was asked if they were identical or fraternal twins.  In addition, a person listed only as a "grandmother" was further identified as a maternal, paternal, or social grandmother.  The survey solicited similar information for a household occupant listed only as a grandfather, a great-grandmother, or a great-grandfather.

Figure 1. Definitions of Relationships in Household Roster

Biological Relationship: Two people are related by blood or conception and birth. For example, one's biological father is the same as one's natural father or the man who made one's biological mother pregnant.

Step Relationship: Two people are related through a marriage where the husband and/or wife had children with another partner. For example, a stepchild is the biological offspring of one's spouse (with some other partner). A stepmother is the wife of one's biological father (if he is not married to one's biological mother). A stepbrother is the biological son of one's stepmother who is not the biological son of one's biological father.

Adoptive Relationship: The permanent legal rights and duties with respect to a child have been transferred from one person or institution to another. The parental rights to an adopted child have been permanently and legally transferred from the birth parents to the adoptive parents. Any other children of the adoptive parents become adopted siblings of the adopted child.

Foster Relationship: Someone assumes a legal and financial obligation for a child but there is no permanent adoptive relationship.

In-law Relationship: Two people are related through marriage. A mother-in-law is the mother of one's spouse. A son-in-law is the spouse of one's daughter. A sister-in-law is the sister of one's spouse or the spouse of one's brother.

Full Relationship: The youth and his or her siblings share the same biological mother and biological father.

Half Relationship: Siblings share only one common biological parent. Half-siblings have the same biological mother but different biological fathers, or vice versa.

Social Relationship: A person functions in a particular family role but is not biologically related. For example, one's social grandparent would be someone who functions as a grandparent but is not biologically related.

Source: Interviewer Reference Manual for Screener, Household Roster, and Nonresident Roster Questionnaire, 1997.

2. Parent Questionnaire (round 1)

For the round 1 survey, the responding parent provided additional information on the 1996 earnings (self-employment earnings and earnings from an employee job) of each household member older than 14 at the time of the survey.  Another question determined the income each household member received from any other sources such as Social Security, pensions, welfare, interest, gifts, etc.

3. Youth Questionnaire

In rounds 2 through 6, the household information section of this instrument verified characteristics of the respondent's parents listed in the previous round and asked the youth to describe any times since the last interview when he or she did not live with each parent.  Parents who no longer lived with the youth were moved to the nonresident roster (see Characteristics of Non-Residential Relatives).  Starting with round 7, this information was no longer collected.

The household information section next asked the respondent to review the list of household members from the last interview.  If any members moved out of the household or had died, this information was recorded and the person was moved to the nonresident roster.  The nonresident roster is maintained across rounds so that if anyone moves back into the household, that person can be identified and matched to their old information by ID number, which remains the same, thus allowing that person to be tracked across rounds.  Finally, the respondent reported any new household members, listing their age or birth date and relationship to the respondent.  All of the information about current members from the previous round's roster and about new members was then used to create the household roster for the current round.

After the roster was created, the respondent provided additional information about the household members: gender and race/ethnicity for all new household members, all members transferred from the nonresident roster, and any previous members for whom the information was missing.  Marital status, employment status, and highest degree received were recorded for all household members age 16 or older.  Current enrollment status was collected for all members age 4 or older; highest grade attended was gathered for all new members and anyone currently enrolled in school.  Respondents reported their relationship to any members from the previous round who were not blood relatives or whose relationship was missing.  Finally, if the new household member was a stepparent, an adoptive parent, or the partner of the respondent's parent, the date he or she joined the household was recorded.

The classification of a stepparent who has legally adopted a child may differ between the Screener, Household Roster, and Nonresident Roster Questionnaire and the other survey instruments. In the former, help screens instructed interviewers to categorize such parent-figures as stepparents rather than adoptive parents. Since the respondent defines this relationship in the self-administered section of the Youth Questionnaire, he or she may choose to list this parent-figure as an adoptive parent.

In round 1, most household information was collected during the administration of the Screener, Household Roster, and Nonresident Roster Questionnaire. This part of the survey also asked questions about any nonresident relatives of the NLSY97-eligible youth, including biological, step-, and adoptive parents and biological children; these data are discussed in detail in Characteristics of Non-Residential Relatives. The following paragraphs contain a description of the collection and organization of the household roster information. Researchers interested in using these data should first read this discussion.