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 >> Social marital status >> Underlying concepts


4. The name of the variable is 'Social marital status'.

5. The alternative term 'living arrangements' is confusing as it can also be related to wider household relationships (eg. whether the respondent lives alone or with others). Several other alternative terminologies, including: 'marital partnership', 'consensual union', 'consensual marital status', 'cohabitation status', 'partnership status', 'whether partnered', 'whether living with a partner', or 'de facto marital status', are not considered as appropriate as the terminology 'Social marital status' to describe the concept.


Nominal definition

6. The variable 'Social marital status' is defined as:

  • a person's relationship status in terms of whether she or he forms a couple relationship with another person.

7. A couple relationship is based on a consensual union, and 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. This relationship is identified by the presence of a registered marriage or de facto marriage.

8. According to this concept, a marriage exists when two people live together as a couple, regardless of whether the union is formalised through registration. Individuals are therefore regarded as 'married' if they are in a de facto relationship with a partner, or if they are living with their registered marriage partner.

9. 'Social marital status' is an attribute of the counting unit 'person'.

Operational definition

10. Operationally, 'Social marital status' is defined as a person's relationship status in terms of whether she or he forms a couple relationship with another person living in the same usual residence, and the nature of that relationship. It is obtained by derivation from the responses to questions on the 'Relationship in household'.

11. In statistical collections it is not always practical to ask questions which will determine whether bonding usually associated with marriage exists between two people. Accordingly, a Social Marriage is deemed to exist when:
  • a registered marriage, de facto marriage or couple relationship (either opposite-sex or same-sex) is reported in response to a question about relationships within the household.

  • when the two individuals concerned are usually resident in the same household.

12. The definition of 'Social marital status' involves usual residence because operationally it is necessary to consider only relationships between persons who usually reside in the same household. The distinction between visitors and usual residents is used to ensure that partnerships are identified only between persons usually resident in the same household.

Scope of the variable

13. The variable 'Social marital status' applies to all persons aged fifteen years and over.

Supporting variables

14. 'Social marital status' requires the supporting variable 'Relationship in household'.

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