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 >> Overview of family, household and income unit standards >> Procedures for processing family variables

71. In a statistical collection designed to produce information about families, the following steps need to take place in order to process data about families:

  • the identification of the usual residents of the household;
  • the description of the relationships between the usual residents, by use of an initial household reference person;
  • the application of the rules for forming families (see the rules for identifying and coding families in the 'Family composition' standard). At this stage, it may also be necessary to reallocate the household and family reference person(s) depending on the complexity of the household (for further details see the 'Relationship in household' standard, Appendix A - Identifying household and family reference persons); and finally,
  • coding of 'Relationship in household', 'Family composition' and other variables, as required.

Collection methods

72. While information on families can be collected using different methodologies it always follows the same sequence:

73. Initially, a 'Household reference person' is identified. This person is the first named person entered on the collection form and is called 'Person 1'. This person is the reference point to which the 'Relationship in household' is anchored. 'Relationship in household' information provides information on 'Social marital status'. Once relationships within the household have been established and coded, reference is made to the ages of children and to further questions about student status asked to determine whether children aged 15-24 years are dependent or not. Next, rules are applied to the relationship and dependency information to enable the identification and coding of families to establish 'Family composition'. 'Family composition' data can then be used to determine the 'Household composition'. If required, additional questions can be asked to determine 'Registered marital status'.

74. In practice, identification of the 'Household reference person' is either a correction of the identification made in the field, which occurs later during the coding process, or more usually a result of the appropriate person being selected automatically. Automatic selection of 'person 1' can occur in two ways, depending on the method of collection:
  • In self-completed collections such as the Census, the instruction on the form is to "Enter the householder or any adult household member as 'Person 1', and if present, the spouse or partner as 'Person 2'";
  • In interviewer-based collections, the interviewer instruction is to ask "What are the names of all the people who usually live here?"; as the respondent will usually list themselves first, they become 'Person 1' and thus the household reference person. Note that the Population Surveys Interviewer's Manual allows for the respondent to nominate a different household member as Person 1 and the interviewer is advised to accept this provided that person is a suitable household reference person: for instance, a person aged under 15 years is not suitable.

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