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RELATE
Relationship to householder

Codes and Frequencies



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Description

RELATE reports an individual's relationship to the householder.

1969-1981

In 1969-1981, interviewers asked, "How is [person] related to --- (Head of household)?" The Field Representative's Manual for 1969-1981 says that some typical examples of "relationship entries are: wife, son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, father, mother, grandson, daughter-in-law, aunt, cousin, nephew, roomer, servant, hired hand, partner and maid." For the NHIS public use data files, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) recoded the literal answers of the respondents into eight categories.
In RELATE, the 1969-1981 public use categories "Unrelated individual living alone" and "Head of family or unrelated individual not living alone" are combined as "Householder." There was no unique category for non-relatives, as they were enumerated in separate family units and their presence was indicated only by their inclusion in the category of "Head of family or unrelated individual not living alone." The public use categories "Wife (husband living at home and not in Armed Forces)" and "Wife (husband living at home and is in Armed Forces)" are combined as "Spouse."
1982-1996
In 1982-1996, interviewers asked, "What is [person's] relationship to (reference person)?" The Field Representative's Manual for 1982-1996 says that some typical examples of "relationship entries are: husband, wife, son, daughter, stepson, father, granddaughter, daughter-in-law, aunt, cousin, nephew, roomer, hired hand, partner, maid, [and] friend." For the NHIS public use data files, the NCHS recoded the literal answers of the respondents into ten categories, including "Don't know or refused" (1982-1991) and "Unknown" (1992-1996).
In RELATE, the 1982-1996 public use categories "Reference person, living alone" and "Reference person, 2+ persons in household" are combined as "Householder." In addition, the public use categories "Spouse, other spouse not in Armed Forces and living at home" and "Spouse, other spouse in Armed Forces and living at home" are combined as "Spouse."
With some exceptions, the RELATE category "Child of ineligible householder" refers to children of military personnel. Military personnel were not eligible to participate in the NHIS. In some instances, respondents over the age of 18 are classified as "Child of ineligible householder." In some instances, it appears that these are co-resident adult children of military personnel but in others - particularly in the 1992 sample - it is unclear why respondents were classified as "Child of ineligible householder." Users should exercise caution when using this category, and can refer to the variable COMIVIEW to ascertain whether the respondent lives in a military household.
1997 forward
In 1997 forward, interviewers asked, "What is [person's] relationship to (reference person)?" Respondents selected the appropriate category from a card that retained the same content from 1997 forward. The words "(biological/adoptive/in-law/step/foster)" were printed after the categories "child," "parent," and "brother/sister" on the card.
The Field Representative's Manual for 1997 forward instructed interviewers to treat unmarried couples (same-sex and opposite-sex) living together as unmarried partners. However, if the response of the couple (same-sex and opposite sex) was less explicit, such as "we share an apartment" or "we room together," the interviewer was instructed to treat them as housemates/roommates. Finally, if two persons of the same sex (two males or two females) considered themselves as married, the interviewer was instructed to treat them as married.

Comparability

Changes in Public Use Data Categories

Beginning in 1997, the NHIS questionnaire provided respondents a Flashcard from which to select their relationship to the householder. Prior to 1997, respondents were not provided a Flashcard from which to select their relationship to the householder, and interviewers instead recorded the literal open-ended answers of the respondents to the question. The NCHS recoded respondents' answers for inclusion in the public use data files.
NHIS public use data on relationships to the householder are most sparse from 1969-1981. During this period, the only categories were "Unrelated individual living alone," "Head of family or unrelated individual not living alone," "Wife (husband living at home and not in Armed Forces)," "Wife (husband living at home and is in Armed Forces)," "Child of head or spouse," "Grandchild of head or spouse," "Parent of head or spouse," and "Other relative." As noted previously, there was no unique category for non-relatives. Finally, from 1969-1981 there was no "Unknown" category.
While from 1969-1981 the NHIS question associated with RELATE asked about the person's relationship to the head of household, in 1982 forward the question asked for the person's relationship to the reference person. The National Health Interview Survey Design, 1973-84, and Procedures, 1975-83 ("Vital and Health Statistics," series 1, number 18), p. 20, reports that "in 1982 the 'head of household' concept was replaced by the 'reference person' (that is, one of the household members who owns or rents the residence). Family relationships are assigned by the interviewer on the basis of the reference person. The reference person concept is consistent with standard U.S. Bureau of the Census practice on other demographic surveys such as the Current Population Survey."
For 1982-1996 only a small amount of detail was added (relative to 1969-1981) to the public use data on relationships to the householder. As was the case for 1969-1981, there was no unique category for non-relatives. Their presence was indicated only by their inclusion in the category of "Reference person, 2+ persons in household." The 1969-1981 public use categories "Wife (husband living at home and not in Armed Forces)," "Wife (husband living at home and is in Armed Forces)," were kept with "Spouse" replacing "Wife." Finally, in 1982-1996, two additional public use categories were added (relative to 1969-1981). The first category was "Child of ineligible reference person" (in 1995-1996, the category was renamed "Child of military family with no eligible reference person"). The second added category was an "Unknown" category ("Don't know or refused" in 1982-1991, and "Unknown" in 1992-1996).
In 1997 forward, more detailed relationship categories were used for both relatives and non-relatives of the householder. As noted earlier, beginning in 1997 respondents answered the question "What is [person's] relationship to (reference person)?" by selecting the appropriate category from a card that retained the same content from 1997 forward. The words "(biological/adoptive/in-law/step/foster)" were printed after the categories "child," "parent," and "brother/sister" on the card
Category Differences

The following categories may pose problems of comparability because of changing definitions across time periods:

Householder

1969-1981
The 1969-1981 NHIS question associated with RELATE asked for the person's relationship to the head of household. The 1969-1981 Field Representative's Manual defines "head of household" as the person who:
...is regarded as the head by the members of the household. It may be the chief breadwinner of the family, the parent of the chief earner, the only adult member of the household, or a member of the Armed Forces living at home about whom we want no health information.
While in most cases it is likely that the head of household was the person who owned or rented the sample unit, that was not, according to the Field Representative's Manual, always true.
The 1969-1981 Field Representative's Manual instructed interviewers to designate "the wife or other family group head as the household head" whenever an Armed Forces household member, who would otherwise be designated the head of household, is not living at home. For households in which two or more unrelated individuals share a housing unit, the Field Representative's Manual instructed interviewers to designate "one as the 'Head' and call each of the others 'Partner.'"
Transition from 1969-1981 to 1982 forward
As noted above, in contrast to 1969-1981, the NHIS question associated with RELATE in 1982 forward asked for the person's relationship to the household reference person. The reference person concept (the household member who owns or rents the sample unit) is consistent with standard U.S. Bureau of the Census practice on other demographic surveys.
1982 forward
The 1982-1997 Field Representative's Manual defines "household reference person" as:
The first household member 19 years or older mentioned by the respondent in answer to question 1a, i.e., the person who owns or rents the sample unit. If no household member occupying the sample unit owns or rents the unit, the reference person is the first household member mentioned who is 19 years of age or older.
The 1997 Field Representative's Manual states that the household reference person should be "the person, or one of the persons, who owns or rents the sample unit, that is, the first person mentioned by the respondent in the Household Roster." If more than one household member owned or rented the unit, or if none of the household members owned or rented the unit, the oldest person was to be designated as reference person.
The 1982-1997 Field Representative's Manual also notes that, on rare occasions, interviewers may encounter sample units occupied entirely by persons less than 19 years of age. When this occurs, the Field Representative's Manual provides interviewers with the following instructions:
(a) If one of the household members owns or is renting the sample unit, designate that person as the reference person. (b) If more than one household member owns or is renting the sample unit, designate the oldest member as the reference person. (c) If none of the household members own or rent the sample unit, designate the oldest household member as the reference person.
The 1982-1997 criteria for being a household reference person applied for 1998 forward, with the added provision that the reference person should be at least 18 years old (or should be the oldest owner or renter, if all household members were under age 18). For persons occupying a rental unit without payment of cash rent (e.g., in exchange for their labor), the 1998 forward Field Representative's Manual consistently called for the reference person to be the first adult (age 18+) household member named by the respondent. The reference person could be a member of the armed forces living at home only if no other person was eligible to be the reference person.
Family Relationship
The 1969-1996 public use file Codebooks state that RELATE (called "FAMREL" in the Codebooks) reports "Family" relationships. However, this is not technically correct. Instead, the variable reports the relationship of household members to the householder. The householder is not necessarily the head of a family. For example, the wife of a married couple, whose maid and maid's daughter live in the household, could be the householder. This person would not be the head of the family constituted by the maid and the maid's daughter, and she need not be the head of the family consisting of herself and her husband.
Household
There is general agreement in the definition of "household" throughout the entire 1969 forward period, though in 1969-1981, household is defined relative to the "household head," while in 1982 forward household is defined relative to "reference person." The 1969 forward Field Representative's Manual defines a "household" as the "entire group of persons" who live in the sample unit (a housing unit or one "other" unit). The household may consist of "several persons living together or one person living alone." It includes the reference person (household head (1969-1981)) and any relatives living in the sample unit, as well as roomers, domestics, "or other persons not related to the reference person [household head (1969-1981)]."
Household Membership
The 1969-1981 Field Representative's Manual provides the following criteria for determining "household membership"

:

  • (a) "Persons who consider the sample unit as their home and who are: 1) Living at home at the time of the interview; or 2) temporarily absent at the time of the interview, on vacation, visiting or on business. This includes bus drivers, railroadmen, traveling salesmen, etc., who usually do not stay long in one place, but who return home at intervals."
  • (b) "Persons who consider the sample unit as their home but who are in a general hospital, that is, a hospital where most patients remain for a short period of time only, regardless of how long their stay has been in the hospital."
  • (c) "New-born babies who have not yet left the hospital."
  • (d) "Students of any age (including student nurses) who live in the sample unit while attending school. (If they are at home on summer vacation at the time of the interview consider them as household members of their own home.)"
  • (e) "Crew members of a vessel who consider the sample unit as their home. This rule applies regardless of the length of their trips and regardless of whether they are at home or on the vessel at the time of your visit."
  • (f) "Domestic or other employees who live with the household and sleep in the sample unit."
  • (g) "Boarders or roomers who regularly sleep in the sample unit."
  • (h) "Civilians who usually live in the sample unit but who are temporarily abroad on a vacation or in connection with their work."
  • (i) "Persons temporarily visiting with the household but who have no usual place of residence elsewhere."
  • (j) "Foster children, wards."
Special Situations Regarding Household Membership
The 1969 forward Field Representative's Manuals note that interviewers may sometimes encounter situations in which household membership is unclear. The Manuals provide the following guidelines for handling these "Special situations regarding household membership."
1969 forward
  • Persons/Families with Two or More Homes: Some persons or families have two or more homes and may spend part of the time in each. For such cases, interviews were consistently (1969-forward) instructed to consider the usual place of residence as the place where the person/family spent the largest part of the calendar year. Thus, interviewers were instructed to interview persons living in vacation homes, trailers, etc. only if it was their usual place of residence. If interviewers were unable to determine the person's/family's usual place of residence, the interviewer was instructed to consider the person/family to be a resident of the sample unit if present there at the time of interview.
  • "Citizens of Foreign Countries - The Field Representative's Manuals provide the following guidelines for interviewers:
(a) Do not count as household members foreign citizens merely visiting or traveling in the United States.
(b) Do not interview citizens of foreign countries and other persons who are living on the premises of an Embassy, Ministry, Legation, Chancellery, or Consulate.
(c) Interview citizens of foreign countries and other persons who are living in the United States only if they have no usual place of residence elsewhere in the United States.
  • In 1969-1981, (c) was further qualified by requiring that such persons be either permanently living in the United States, or temporarily living in the United States and going to school, or employed, or members of the family of a person going to school or employed.
1969-1981
  • Persons Who Work Away from Home: The 1969-1981 Field Representative's Manuals provided interviewers with instructions for handling cases in which persons worked away from home. According to the Manuals, some "persons sleep most of the week in one place to be near their work but may spend weekends or other nonwork periods in another place. Count such persons as members of the household in which they sleep most of the week."
  • Domestic Employees in Separate House or Cabin: The 1969-1981 Field Representative's Manuals provided interviewers with instructions for handling cases in which domestic employees sleep in separate quarters. According to the Manuals, if "domestic employees sleep in a separate house or cabin, count them as a separate household if they have separate cooking equipment. If they do not have separate cooking equipment, count them as part of the main household."
  • Migratory Workers: The 1969-1981 Field Representative's Manuals provided interviewers with instructions for handling migratory workers. According to the Manuals, interviewers should consider "migrant farm or ranch workers and logging camp workers as household members of the sample unit IF they have no usual place of residence elsewhere in the United States."
1982 forward
  • Students: Beginning in 1982, interviewers were instructed by the Field Representative's Manuals to consider a student (including student nurses) as household member of his or her parents' home only if at home with no usual residence at the school. As noted in the 1990 Field Representative's Manual, even "if a student considers his/her parents' home to be the usual residence, consider him/her to be a household member where presently residing [attending school]." Beginning in 1997, the following qualification appears in the Field Representative's Manual: "[This/The above] applies only to post-secondary school students and student nurses. Children under 18 attending boarding school away from home should still be considered as household members in their parents' homes."
  • Seamen: Beginning in 1982, interviewers were instructed by the Field Representative's Manuals to consider "crew members of a vessel to be household members at their home rather than on the vessel, regardless of whether they are at home or on the vessel" at the time of the interview. This instruction was qualified by the assumption that the seamen had no usual place of residence elsewhere.
  • Members of Armed Forces: Beginning in 1982, interviewers were instructed by the Field Representative's Manuals to consider ("active duty," beginning in 1997) members of the Armed Forces "as household members if they are stationed in the locality and usually sleep in the sample unit."

Universe

  • 1963-2013; 2014: All persons.

Availability

  • 1963-2017

Weights