Relationship to Householder
One person in each household is designated as the householder. In most cases, this is the person or one of the people in whose name the home is owned, being bought, or rented and who is listed on line one of the survey questionnaire. If there is no such person in the household, any adult household member 15 years old and over could be designated as the householder.
Households are classified by type according to the sex of the householder and the presence of relatives. Two types of householders are distinguished: a family householder and a non- family householder. A family householder is a householder living with one or more individuals related to him or her by birth, marriage, or adoption. The householder and all people in the household related to him or her are family members. A nonfamily householder is a householder living alone or with non-relatives only.
Includes a person married to and living with a householder who is of the opposite sex of the householder. The category "husband or wife" includes people in formal marriages, as well as people in common-law marriages. In tabulations, unless otherwise specified, "Spouse" does not include same-sex married couples even if the marriage was performed in a state issuing marriage certificates for same-sex couples.
Includes a son or daughter by birth, a stepchild, or adopted child of the householder, regardless of the child's age or marital status. The category excludes sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, and foster children.
- Biological son or daughter
- The son or daughter of the householder by birth.
Adopted son or daughter - The son or daughter of the householder by legal adoption. If a stepson or stepdaughter has been legally adopted by the householder, the child is then classified as an adopted child.
Stepson or stepdaughter - The son or daughter of the householder through marriage but not by birth, excluding sons-in-law and daughters-in-law. If a stepson or stepdaughter of the householder has been legally adopted by the householder, the child is then classified as an adopted child.
A never-married child under 18 years who is a son or daughter by birth, a stepchild, or an adopted child of the householder. In certain tabulations, own children are further classified as living with two parents or with one parent only. Own children of the householder living with two parents are by definition found only in married-couple families. (Note: When used in "EMPLOYMENT STATUS" tabulations, own child refers to a never married child under the age of 18 in a family or a subfamily who is a son or daughter, by birth, marriage, or adoption, of a member of the householder's family, but not necessarily of the householder.)
Any child under 18 years old who is related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption. Related children of the householder include ever-married as well as never-married children. Children, by definition, exclude persons under 18 years who maintain households or are spouses or unmarried partners of householders.
In tabulations, the category "other relatives" includes any household member related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption, but not included specifically in another relationship category. In certain detailed tabulations, the following categories may be shown:
The grandson or granddaughter of the householder.
Brother/Sister - The brother or sister of the householder, including stepbrothers, stepsisters, and brothers and sisters by adoption. Brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law are included in the "Other Relative" category on the questionnaire.
Parent - The father or mother of the householder, including a stepparent or adoptive parent. Fathers-in-law and mothers-in-law are included in the "Parent-in-law" category on the questionnaire.
Parent-in-law - The mother-in-law or father-in-law of the householder.
Son-in-law or daughter-in-law - The spouse of the child of the householder.
Other Relatives - Anyone not listed in a reported category above who is related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption (brother-in-law, grandparent, nephew, aunt, cousin, and so forth).
This category includes any household member, including foster children, not related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption. The following categories may be presented in more detailed tabulations:
A roomer or boarder is a person who lives in a room in the household of the householder. Some sort of cash or noncash payment (e.g., chores) is usually made for their living accommodations.
Housemate or Roommate - A housemate or roommate is a person age 15 years old and over, who is not related to the householder, and who shares living quarters primarily in order to share expenses.
Unmarried Partner - An unmarried partner is a person age 15 years old and over, who is not related to the householder, who shares living quarters, and who has a close personal relationship with the householder. Same-sex spouses are included in this category for tabulation purposes and for public use data files.
Foster Child - A foster child is a person under 21 years old, who is placed by the local government in a household to receive parental care. Foster children may be living in the household for just a brief period or for several years. Foster children are nonrelatives of the householder. If the foster child is also related to the householder, the child is classified as that specific relative.
Other Nonrelatives - Anyone who is not related by birth, marriage, or adoption to the householder and who is not described by the categories given above.
When relationship is not reported for an individual, it is imputed according to the responses for age, sex, and marital status for that person while maintaining consistency with responses for other individuals in the household.
An unrelated individual is:
(1) a householder living alone or with nonrelatives only,
(2) a household member who is not related to the householder, or
(3) a person living in group quarters who is not an inmate of an institution.
A family consists of a householder and one or more other people living in the same household who are related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption. All people in a household who are related to the householder are regarded as members of his or her family. A family household may contain people not related to the householder, but those people are not included as part of the householder's family in tabulations. Thus, the number of family households is equal to the number of families, but family households may include more members than do families. A household can contain only one family for purposes of tabulations. Not all households contain families since a household may be comprised of a group of unrelated people or of one person living alone - these are called nonfamily households. Families are classified by type as either a "married- couple family" or "other family" according to the sex of the householder and the presence of relatives. The data on family type are based on answers to questions on sex and relationship that were asked of all people.
A family in which the householder and his or her spouse are listed as members of the same household.
- Male Householder, No Wife Present -A family with a male householder and no spouse of householder present.
- Female Householder, No Husband Present - A family with a female householder and no spouse of householder present.
Family households and married-couple families include same-sex married couples, beginning with the 2013 data.
A measure obtained by dividing the number of people in families by the total number of families (or family householders). In cases where the measures, "people in family" or "people per family" are cross-tabulated by race or Hispanic origin, the race or Hispanic origin refers to the householder rather than the race or Hispanic origin of each individual. Average family size is rounded to the nearest hundredth.
A subfamily is a married couple (husband and wife interviewed as members of the same household) with or without never-married children under 18 years old, or one parent with one or more never-married children under 18 years old. A subfamily does not maintain its own household, but lives in a household where the householder or householder's spouse is a relative. The number of subfamilies is not included in the count of families, since subfamily members are counted as part of the householder's family. Subfamilies are defined during processing of data.
In selected tabulations, subfamilies are further classified by type: married-couple subfamilies, with or without own children; mother-child subfamilies; and father-child subfamilies.
In some labor force tabulations, children in both one-parent families and one-parent subfamilies are included in the total number of children living with one parent, while children in both married-couple families and married-couple subfamilies are included in the total number of children living with two parents.
A householder living alone or with nonrelatives only. Same-sex couple households with no relatives of the householder present are tabulated in nonfamily households.
An unmarried-partner household is a household other than a "married-couple household" that includes a householder and an "unmarried partner." An "unmarried partner" can be of the same sex or of the opposite sex as the householder. An "unmarried partner" in an "unmarried-partner household" is an adult who is unrelated to the householder, but shares living quarters and has a close personal relationship with the householder. An unmarried-partner household also may be a family household or a nonfamily household, depending on the presence or absence of another person in the household who is related to the householder. There may be only one unmarried partner per household, and an unmarried partner may not be included in a married-couple household, as the householder cannot have both a spouse and an unmarried partner. Same-sex married couples are included in the count of unmarried-partner households for tabulations purposes and for public use data files.
Between 1996 and 2007, the question response categories remained the same. In 2008, the "Son or daughter" category was expanded to "Biological son or daughter," "Adopted son or daughter," and "Stepson or stepdaughter." Also "In-law" was expanded to "Parent-in-law" and "Son-in-law or daughter-in-law."
Limitation of the Data
Unlike the Current Population Survey (CPS) and the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), the ACS relationship question does not have a parent pointer to identify whether both parents are present. For example, if a child lives with unmarried parents, we only know the relationship of the child to the householder, not to the other parent. So a count of children living with two biological parents is not precise.
The relationship categories for the most part can be compared to previous ACS years and to similar data collected in the decennial census, CPS, and SIPP. With the change in 2008 from "In-law" to the two categories of "Parent-in-law" and "Son-in-law or daughter-in-law," caution should be exercised when comparing data on in-laws from previous years. "In-law" encompassed any type of in-law such as sister-in-law. Combining "Parent-in-law" and "son-in-law or daughter-in-law" does not represent all "in-laws" in 2008. The same can be said of comparing the three categories of "biological" "step," and "adopted" child in 2008 to "Child" in previous years. Before 2008, respondents may have considered anyone under 18 as "child" and chosen that category. The ACS includes "foster child" as a category. However, the 2010 census did not contain this category, and "foster children" were included in the "Other nonrelative" category. Therefore, comparison of "foster child" cannot be made to the 2010 Census. Beginning in 2013, the "spouse" category includes same-sex spouses.