1286.0 - Family, Household and Income Unit Variables, 2005
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 01/06/2005
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Contents >> Family composition >> Classification and coding

This document was added or updated on 23/04/2007.

CLASSIFICATION AND CODING

THE CLASSIFICATION CRITERIA

23. The four basic criteria used to structure the 'Family composition' classification are:

• Couple relationship
• Parent-child relationship
• Child dependency
• Other blood relationship

24. The first three of the above criteria are also used to determine 'Income unit composition'. For more information see the ABS Standard Variable 'Income unit composition'.

THE STANDARD CLASSIFICATION AND CODE STRUCTURE

25. 'Family composition' is a 4 level hierarchical classification.

26. In the classification structure a combination of the digits 1, 2, 3 and 9 is used at the four levels to code each of the categories available at that particular level. Following is a summary of what each digit represents at each level in the classification.

At level 1:

1 = couple family with no children
2 = couple family with children
3 = one parent family
9 = other family

At level 2:

1 = children under 15 present
2 = no children under 15 present

At level 3:

1 = dependent students present
2 = no dependent students present

At level 4:

1 = non-dependent children present
2 = no non-dependent children present

27. The code structure for 'Family composition' at all levels is presented below. The category titles are self-explanatory; brief descriptions may be found in the Glossary in the 'Overview of family, household and income unit standards'.

28. The categories in the classification are:

 1 COUPLE FAMILY WITH NO CHILDREN 12 Couple family with no children under 15 122 Couple family with no children under 15 and no dependent students 1222 Couple family with no children under 15, no dependent students and no non-dependent children 2 COUPLE FAMILY WITH CHILDREN 21 Couple family with children under 15 211 Couple family with children under 15 and dependent students 2111 Couple family with children under 15, dependent students and non-dependent children 2112 Couple family with children under 15, dependent students and no non-dependent children 212 Couple family with children under 15 and no dependent students 2121 Couple family with children under 15, no dependent students and with non-dependent children 2122 Couple family with children under 15, no dependent students and no non-dependent children 22 Couple family with no children under 15 221 Couple family with no children under 15 and with dependent students 2211 Couple family with no children under 15, and with dependent students and non-dependent children 2212 Couple family with no children under 15, and with dependent students and no non-dependent children 222 Couple family with no children under 15 and no dependent students 2221 Couple family with no children under 15, no dependent students and with non-dependent children 3 ONE PARENT FAMILY 31 One parent family with children under 15 311 One parent family with children under 15 and dependent students 3111 One parent family with children under 15, dependent students and non-dependent children 3112 One parent family with children under 15, dependent students and no non-dependent children 312 One parent family with children under 15 and no dependent students 3121 One parent family with children under 15, no dependent students and with non-dependent children 3122 One parent family with children under 15, no dependent students and no non-dependent children 32 One parent family with no children under 15 321 One parent family with no children under 15 and with dependent students 3211 One parent family with no children under 15, with dependent students and non-dependent children 3212 One parent family with no children under 15, with dependent students and no non-dependent children 322 One parent family with no children under 15 and no dependent students 3221 One parent family with no children under 15, no dependent students and with non-dependent children 9 OTHER FAMILY 92 Other family 922 Other family 9222 Other family

Residual categories and codes

29. The category 9 Other family is reserved as a residual category. All other level 1 categories in the classification are exhaustive and therefore do not require residual categories and codes.

Supplementary codes

30. The supplementary codes are used to process inadequately described responses in statistical collections. There are two types of codes:
• two, three or four digit 'not further defined' codes ending in one, two or three zeros respectively; and
• 'Not applicable' and 'Not stated/Inadequately described' codes.
31. Codes ending in zero are described as 'not further defined' (n.f.d.) codes and are used to code responses which cannot be coded to the four digit or detailed level of the classification but can be coded to a higher level of the classification structure.

32. Codes commencing with zero are used to process responses which do not provide sufficient information to be coded to any level of the structure and when there is no 'Relationship in household' given. In the Census the codes '@@@@ Not applicable' or '8888 Not stated/Inadequately described' are used, for example when all the individuals present are under 15 years old.

SCOPE OF THE CLASSIFICATION

33. The 'Family composition' classification applies to all families. The classification also applies to households where a nominal parent has been designated for coding purposes.

APPLICATION OF THE CLASSIFICATION TO OTHER VARIABLES

34. The 'Family composition' classification is not applicable to any other variable. However, some of the classification criteria used to determine 'Family composition' are also used to determine 'Income unit composition'. For more information see the ABS Standard Variable 'Income unit composition'.

CODING PROCEDURES

35. Responses to the 'Family composition' variable are stored as codes of the classification. The 'Family composition' classification does not require a coding index.

Rules for identifying families

36. There are nine rules for identifying a family and allocating individuals to it. These rules determine how individuals should be allocated to families in households, particularly where the relationships between individuals are complex, such as multifamily households. The rules are listed in the order in which they are applied.

Criterion for forming a family

RULE 1. A family can only be formed from persons in the household, that is, persons usually resident in the same dwelling, one of whom must be 15 years of age or over.

Types of family which can be formed

RULE 2. A couple family exists if any two people, both of whom must be 15 years of age or over, have formed a couple relationship. This is defined as two people usually residing in the same household who share a social, economic and emotional bond usually associated with marriage and who consider their relationship to be a marriage or marriage-like union. It is identified by the characterisation of the relationship by a respondent using terms such as 'husband', 'wife', 'spouse', 'de facto', 'partner' etc.

RULE 3. A lone parent-to-child relationship forms the nucleus of a family when the parent is not a partner in a couple relationship, the child is not a partner in a couple relationship, and the child has no children of his or her own living in the same household. If in a one parent family there are two or more children present, the nucleus is formed between the parent and eldest child.

RULE 4. If two people in the household are related but not through a couple family or one parent family relationship then they form the nucleus of an 'other family'. Possible relationships are listed in Rule 9 below. If there are more than two related people in the household, the nucleus is formed by the two people with the closest relationship (see Rule 7e below). An 'other family' can only be formed by people who are not related to any couple family or one parent family already present in the household.

Allocation to families of persons not in the nucleus

RULE 5. Persons not directly forming the couple family nucleus or one parent family nucleus are allocated to the family nucleus to which they are most closely related. For example, children of a couple are allocated to that couple and children of a one parent family are allocated to the family nucleus of their parent and eldest sibling unless they form a couple or one parent family themselves.

Multifamily households

RULE 6. A separate family nucleus is formed for each couple. There can be only one couple per family. In cases where there are two couples in a household, these would become multifamily households, with two families present. A separate family nucleus is formed for each lone parent. There can be only one lone parent per family. A household with four persons in two separate one parent families becomes a multifamily household. A household with both a couple family and a one parent family becomes a multifamily household.

Special circumstances

RULE 7. The formation of the family nucleus and the subsequent attaching of people to this nucleus has a set of priority rules in both single and multifamily households. If there is any doubt about which way to form the family, use the following rules in the order listed. The first three rules are predominantly for application to parent-child relationships. Rules 7d and 7e are to be used initially when doubt arises from family relationships other than parent-child relationships; only after these Rules have been applied unsuccessfully should Rules 7a, 7b and 7c be applied in that order. Explanations of the Rules are provided below:
• a) most recent generation rule
• b) eldest child rule
• c) child to female parent rule
• d) closest relationship rule
• e) eldest relative rule
RULE 7a) Most recent generation rule
Where a lone parent-child relationship exists for two generations in the same household the most recent generation forms the family nucleus. Thus if a household contains a 70-year-old parent, who has no partner present, a 50-year-old daughter and her 20-year-old son, then the 50-year-old and the 20-year-old form the family nucleus and the 70-year-old is attached to the family as a father/mother (other related individual).

Another example of the most recent generation rule in a multifamily household is a household consisting of a couple aged 75 and 73 (family 1) who live with their son aged 50, his daughter aged 20 and the daughter's husband aged 22 (family 2). In this case, the son aged 50 could be attached to family 1 as a non-dependent child or family 2 as a father/mother (other related individual). The most recent generation rule attaches him to family 2 as a father/mother (other related individual).

RULE 7b) Eldest child rule
Other situations may arise where it is possible to allocate a person to more than one family in the household. These cases may be resolved by the application of the eldest child rule. For example, if a multifamily household was composed of a widower who lives with his son and daughter, where the son, aged 35, has formed a family nucleus with a partner (family 1) and the daughter, aged 25, has a child present and has thus formed a one parent family nucleus (family 2), then the widower is attached to the family nucleus of his eldest child, ie. family 1, as a father/mother (other related individual).

RULE 7c) Child to female parent rule
Where the parents of a child or children no longer consider themselves a couple but still live in the same household, then the child to female parent rule is used to form a lone parent family nucleus comprising the mother and eldest child, with other children of the mother attached to this nucleus. The father is attached to this family as a relative of the eldest child, unless he is part of a separate family nucleus.

RULE 7d) Closest relationship rule
In a multifamily household where a person is an other related individual and is related to more than one family (an aunt, for example, to one family but a grandmother to another) he or she should be allocated to the family where the closer relationship lies. That is, relationships by lineage (vertical) take precedence over other types of relationships. For example, grandmother over aunt, or aunt over cousin.

In a similar situation, where there is a multifamily household consisting of a couple aged 75 and 73 (family 1) who live with their nephew aged 50, his niece aged 20 and the niece's husband aged 22 (family 2), it is not possible to use Rule 7d to determine where the nephew's closer relationship lies. Therefore, Rule 7a, the most recent generation rule, is applied and the nephew aged 50 is attached to family 2 as an uncle (other related individual).

RULE 7e) Eldest relative rule
In a multifamily household where it is possible to allocate a person to more than one family using the same relationship (an aunt, for example, to the family of either of her two nephews), the person is allocated to the family of his or her eldest relative.

RULE 8. Individuals can be attached to the 'other family' nucleus if they are related to either one of the persons forming the nucleus or to any other person added to the 'other family' provided they do not form, or can not be allocated to, a couple or lone parent family in the household.

RULE 9. The following familial relationships are included in the definition of the term related:

 Self Sister Husband Step-sister Wife Half-sister De facto marriage partner Sister in-law Mother Brother Step-mother Step-brother Mother in-law Half brother Father Brother in-law Step-father Aunt Father in-law Step-aunt Son Aunt in-law Step-son Uncle Son in-law Step-uncle Daughter Uncle in-law Step-daughter Nephew Daughter in-law Step-nephew Grandmother Nephew in-law Step-grandmother Niece Grandmother in-law Step-niece Grandfather Niece in-law Step-grandfather Cousin Grandfather in-law Step-cousin Grand daughter Cousin in-law Step-grand daughter Great Uncle Grand daughter in-law Great Aunt Grandson Great-nephew Step-grandson Great-niece Grandson in-law
37. In addition to this list, any direct ancestors (such as great-grandmother) or direct descendants (such as great-grandchild) are considered to be family members, however, any person more distantly related than cousin is not considered a family member. Adopted and foster relationships are treated as related. Godparent and Godchild relationships are not treated as related.

Nominal child rules

38. The ABS defines dependent children as comprising two groups: children aged under 15, and dependent students. Dependent students must be full-time students aged between 15 and 24, and be a usual resident of the same dwelling as at least one of their parents.

39. Where a child under 15 is a usual resident of a dwelling where their parent is not a usual resident, that child must be allocated a 'nominal parent', and in the process becomes a 'nominal child'.

40. Any person who is allocated as a 'nominal parent' to a 'nominal child' is henceforth regarded as a parent, coded as such and is indistinguishable from a birth, foster, step or adoptive parent.

41. Full-time students aged between 15 and 24 are never allocated nominal parents. Consequently if that student is a usual resident of a dwelling where their birth, step or adoptive parent is not a usual resident, the student is unable to be defined as 'dependent'. The student becomes a related (or unrelated) person in that household.

42. Allocation of a nominal parent to a nominal child is determined by the application of the following rules, applied in the following order:
• sibling aged 25 or more. The nominal child's eldest sibling who is over the age of 25 is assigned as the nominal parent.
• closest other relative. The nominal child's closest non-sibling relative aged 25 or more is assigned as the nominal parent. If necessary relationships by lineage (vertical) take precedence over other types of relationships. For example, grandmother over aunt, or aunt over cousin.
• couple relationship. Persons in a couple relationship are assigned as the nominal parents of the nominal child.
• child to female parent. The nominal child is assigned a female nominal parent in preference to a male nominal parent. For example, aunt over uncle.
• eldest person rule. The nominal child is assigned the eldest person usually resident in the dwelling as their nominal parent.

43. For example, a child usually resident with their uncle and aunt (who form a couple) and grandmother would be assigned to the grandmother (closest relative rule). A child usually resident with their aunt, and an unrelated couple, would be assigned to the aunt (closest relative). However, a child usually resident with an unrelated couple and the sibling of the unrelated couple, would be assigned to the couple (couple relationship rule).

44. A child usually resident in a dwelling comprising unrelated persons only would be assigned to the eldest female, or failing that to the eldest person.

45. A child usually resident with two or more relatives, for example an uncle and aunt who are siblings, would be assigned to the aunt (child to female parent rule). If the child resided with two uncles, they would be assigned to the eldest uncle (eldest person rule).

Description of coding

46. Families are coded to the 'Family composition' classification by the application of a simple series of consecutive criteria. These are
• presence of couple relationship
• presence of children under 15
• presence of dependent students
• presence of non-dependent children

47. The presence or absence of each of these factors leads to the ultimate allocation of the appropriate 'Family composition' code. The decision-making process is represented in the following flowchart:

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