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This document was added or updated on 23/04/2007.
8. This definition illustrates three fundamental bounds on the concept of Family at a broad level. These restrictions are:
9. Families can be differentiated using many identifiable characteristics such as the number of children in the family or the size of the family. This standard makes it possible for families to be identified and further differentiated into different types of families based upon certain relationships between members of the family.
10. The variable 'Family composition' is nominally defined as:
11. 'Family composition' is an attribute of the counting unit 'family', and by extension of the counting unit 'person' for all persons who are members of families.
12. Operationally, 'family' is defined as:
13. A detailed and lengthy set of rules is required in order to specify a fully defined and rigorous operational methodology for identifying individual families. The rules are specified in this standard in the section on Coding procedures.
14. The operational definition clarifies the bounds on 'family' established in the nominal definition; most importantly, that a family is constrained within a household and only consists of related people 'usually resident' within that household (related people includes all child dependency relationships even though a child under the age of 15 may be unrelated to the family reference person). The definition of 'household' is therefore fundamental to the definition of 'family'. Following is a summary of the important points arising from this definition:
15. Operationally, 'Family composition' is defined as:
16. The specification of a rigorous methodology for operationalising 'Family composition' is outlined in the section on 'Rules for identifying families'. The following paragraph provides an encapsulation of the main features of the methodology.
17. The 'Family composition' of a particular family is operationalised by enumerating certain relationships that exist between a single 'family reference person' and each other member of that family. 'Family composition' is then allocated on the basis of whether the types of relationships given below are present or not in the family in the following order of precedence:
18. As an example of the application of the above 'precedence rules' using the methodology described in the section on 'Rules for identifying families', consider the example of two elderly brothers living with the family of the daughter of one of the brothers. The daughter's family forms the basic family of the household and the two brothers are both allocated to this family unit as related individuals. The two brothers do not form a separate family in their own right in addition to the daughter's family, because they are related to a couple family or one-parent family already present in the household. However, if the two brothers were living in a dwelling with a family to whom they were not related, they would then form a family in their own right and be classified as an 'other family'.
Scope of the variable
19. The variable 'Family composition' applies to all families.
20. 'Family composition' requires the supporting variables 'Relationship in household' and 'Age'.
DISCUSSION OF CONCEPTUAL ISSUES
Nominal child and nominal parent
21. In many households in Australia the relationships between persons and the composition of those households are more diverse than those generally regarded as being traditional 'nuclear' families. Often the relationships between adults in the household and dependent children (persons aged under 15 or full-time students aged under 25) would not be captured by basic coding methods as explained in the 'Relationship in household' standard. In order to better reflect the nature of those relationships, where to all intents and purposes a 'parent-child' relationship exists, the ABS uses the concepts of the 'nominal child' and 'nominal parent'. The use of 'nominal child' and 'nominal parent' allows these relationships to be captured while maintaining a relatively simple set of family arrangements for analytical purposes.
22. For rules on when a 'nominal child' (and 'nominal parent') is created in family coding, see the section below on the 'Nominal child rules' in 'Coding procedures'.