Marriage and Fertility

Marriage and Fertility

Young Men

Marital status. Questions on marital status have been asked of respondents in every survey. In most years, the resulting variable uses the same six coding categories as the Older Men. The Young Men marital status variables for 1973 and 1975 contain only five categories, not differentiating married--spouse absent from married--spouse present. Additionally, a 'Marital Status and Family Status' variable, created during several early survey years, combined information about marital status and the presence of children.

Marital transitions. Marital history data were collected from the Young Men during the final four surveys of that cohort. The 1976 survey, the first to include marital history questions, recorded the total number of marriages the respondent had, the date (month and year) of his first marriage, how and when the first marriage ended, the date of his current or most recent marriage, and the date he was divorced, separated, or widowed after his most recent marriage. In 1978 and 1980, married respondents reported the date of their current marriage and respondents who were divorced, widowed, or separated provided the date that event occurred. The final survey of the Young Men recorded the dates and types of up to four changes in the respondent's marital status since the 1980 interview date (or the 1978 interview date if the respondent was not interviewed in 1980).

Characteristics of the respondent's spouse/partner. As with the Older Men, most information on the wives of Young Men was collected in the household roster. These data are described in the Household Composition section. Additionally, the 1981 interview contained a separate series of questions referring to the respondent's wife or partner. Data collected include birth date; whether the wife or partner had been enrolled in school since the 1980 interview date (or the 1978 interview date if the respondent was not interviewed in 1980); for enrolled wives and partners, the highest grade completed; weeks worked in the past 12 months; hours per week usually worked; occupation; and weeks spent looking for work. Researchers should note that the wife was not included on the household roster in 1981, so this series of questions replaces her roster data.


User Notes

Users are urged to examine the original questionnaires to determine exact wording, context, universe, and coding categories. In addition to the differences already mentioned, there are many related variables such as marital status collected retrospectively for noninterview years and interviewer check items that use different categories than those described above. When marital transitions were updated from a midpoint of a previous year rather than from a previous interview, certain vital information may be missing. For instance, if a respondent from the Young Men cohort was interviewed in 1976, not in 1978, but was interviewed again in 1980, his marital history was updated since a specified date in 1978 (not 1976). If he was married in 1976 but divorced and remarried before 1980, his marital status would be married for both 1976 and 1980 and he would have no marital transitions recorded. His wife, however, would be a different person with different characteristics than in 1976. It is imperative to examine the questionnaires to determine exactly what information is recorded.

For surveys before 1981, the "Household Roster" is a possible additional source of partner information. Although the list of possible relationships to the respondent on the "Household Roster" section of the questionnaire did not include "partner" in the early years, the relationship codes were revised in later years to include this category.

Children. If the respondent's children resided in his household, age, education, and employment data about each were collected in the household roster section of each questionnaire. This information is discussed in the Household Composition section. In 1966, survey staff used the information from the household record to create variables providing the total number of the respondent's children in the household and the number in various age groups.

Very limited information was gathered about children who did not live with the respondent. The 1981 survey asked for the total number of children the respondent had ever had and the birth date of each child not residing in the household. Additionally, every survey asked the respondent how many dependents he had, excluding his wife. In all surveys except 1973 and 1975, the respondent stated his relationship to dependents outside his household; these answers can be used to obtain some information about the number of children supported by the respondent. The questions about dependents were not asked of respondents still living with their parents during the 1966-68 interviews.

The 1981 Young Men survey contained several questions related to fertility expectations and attitudes. The questionnaire first asked for the number of children respondents thought would be ideal and the number they wanted. After reporting how many children they had already, respondents stated how many more children they expected to have and when they expected to have their next child.

Household chores. The 1981 interview included a detailed series of questions regarding the respondent's participation in various household activities. The respondent was presented with a list of common chores (e.g., cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, household paperwork, child care) and asked whether he had none, some, about half, most, or all of the responsibility for each chore. He then stated the total number of hours per week that he spent performing household tasks.

User Notes

The series of questions on household chores was also asked of both Mature and Young Women in multiple surveys. Researchers can use these data to compare perceptions about household responsibilities across genders and generations.

Related Variables: Information on the health of the respondent's wife was gathered in several surveys; these data are described in the Health section.

Survey Instruments & Documentation: Current marital status of the respondent was generally transcribed from the updated Household Record Cards to page one of the questionnaire or to the Information Sheet. In some survey years, however, current marital status is collected in other sections of the questionnaire, such as "Health" or "Work Attitudes." The derivations of the revised versions of marital status for the Older Men are listed in the codebook. Marriage and fertility information for respondents in the Older Men cohort was collected in the "Marital History" or "Family Relationships" sections. Marital transitions and child data for the Young Men were collected in the "Marital History," "Family Members," "Family Background," or "Marital Status" questionnaire sections.