Census Bureau

Current Population Survey (CPS) - Definitions and Explanations

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The definitions and explanations found in reports in the Current Population Reports series issued by the Census Bureau are largely drawn from various technical and procedural materials used in the collection of data in the Current Population Survey. The concepts defined below generally refer to current definitions. For reports based on earlier surveys, especially those published before 1990, the user should consult the printed reports for those years. As reports and surveys continue to evolve, definitions may also alter to accommodate these changes. We will alert users to significant changes in the concepts presented in the reports released on the Internet to enable them to accurately interpret the data for historical comparisons.

Birth cohort. A birth cohort is a group of people who were born in a specified calendar period.

Births, Out of wedlock. Out-of-wedlock births are defined as births occurring in the 12-month period preceding the survey date to women who were currently divorced, widowed, or never married at the time of the interview.

Child Support. Data on award of child support payments were collected from people 15 years or older with children under 21 years of age whose other parent was not living in the household. Information on recipiency and amount of payments was obtained from people who reported that they were awarded or had agreements to receive child support payments.

Reason for nonaward of child support.

Final agreement pending: A child support agreement was awaiting final court, magisterial, or legal action before becoming final, and/or a voluntary written agreement was not yet final.

Joint custody granted: Housing, care, and support of the child(ren) was shared by both parents; therefore, no money or other support was exchanged.

Did not want child support: The custodial parent indicated he/she did not want child support for own child(ren).

Unable to locate other parent: Child support was desired, but the child(ren)'s noncustodial parent could not be located.

Unable to establish paternity: Child support arrangements could not be made because the child(ren)'s paternity could not be established.

Some other reason: The custodial parent wanted child support, and the reason for nonaward did not fit any of the reasons listed above.

Inclusion of health insurance in child support award. This item refers to whether the child(ren)'s noncustodial parent had made health insurance arrangements for his/her child(ren) as part of the child support award. Arrangements for health insurance could have been made by the noncustodial parent purchasing a separate policy for the child(ren) or including the child(ren) under the health insurance provided by his/her employer. In either event, the purchase of, or inclusion of, health insurance must be part of the child support agreement. Insurance taken out by the custodial parent but paid for from child support payment by the noncustodial parent is not included.

Type of child support arrangement.

Voluntary written agreement: Voluntary written agreements between the parties. This agreement may or may not have been recognized by the courts as part of the divorce or separation proceedings. This type of agreement was not ordered by the courts.

Court ordered: Payments ordered by the court. Court-ordered payments usually take place when a mutually acceptable agreement cannot be worked out between the parties.

Other: Arrangements not within either of the two cases above. This category includes informal verbal agreements.

Children. The term "children," as used in tables on living arrangements of children under 18, are all persons under 18 years, excluding people who maintain households, families, or subfamilies as a reference person or spouse.

Own children in a family are sons and daughters, including stepchildren and adopted children, of the householder. Similarly, "own" children in a subfamily are sons and daughters of the married couple or parent in the subfamily. (All children shown as members of related subfamilies are own children of the person(s) maintaining the subfamily.) For each type of family unit identified in the CPS, the count of "own children under 18 years old" is limited to never-married children; however, "own children under 25" and "own children of any age," as the terms are used here, include all children regardless of marital status. The counts include never-married children living away from home in college dormitories.

Related children in a family include own children and all other children under 18 years old in the household who are related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption. The count of related children in families was formerly restricted to never-married children. However, beginning with data for 1968 the Bureau of the Census includes ever-married children under the category of related children. This change added approximately 20,000 children to the category of related children in March 1968.

Children ever born. The question "How many babies has...ever had, if any? (Do not count stillbirths)" is asked of all women 15 to 44 years old. When asking about children ever born, interviewers are instructed to include children born to the women before her present marriage, children no longer living, and children away from home as well as children who are still living in the home. It is possible that some never-married mothers living with one or more of their natural children reported themselves as having been married. In addition, many mothers who first married after the birth of one or more children counted those children, as they were expected to do. Nevertheless, data are probably less complete for births out of wedlock than for births within marriage.

Citizenship status. There are five categories of citizenship status: 1) Born in the United States; 2) Born in Puerto Rico or another outlying area of the U.S.; 3) Born abroad of U.S. citizen parents; 4) Naturalized citizens; 5) Non-citizens. Place of birth was asked for every household member in the CPS sample, and for the parents of every household member. People born in the U.S. or it's outlying areas, or whose parents were born in the U.S. or it's outlying areas, were not asked citizenship questions. Citizenship status (1), (2), or (3) was assigned during the editing phase of data preparation based on the place of birth of the household member, or the place of birth of his or her parents. People born outside the U.S. and it's outlying areas, and whose parents were born outside the U.S. and it's outlying areas, were asked, "Are you a citizen of the United States." 'Yes' answers were assigned to the naturalized citizen category (4) and 'No' answers were assigned to the "Not a citizen" category (5) during the editing process. People for whom no birthplace was provided were assigned a citizenship status during the editing process. For example, the citizenship status of a child might have been assigned based on the citizenship status of it's mother.

Country of birth. Birth place codes available in the CPS include; one code for the United States (fifty states and Washington DC); one code for Puerto Rico; one code for all other outlying areas of the United States (American Samoa, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Marinas, etc.); separate codes for 100 individual foreign countries or areas; residual codes for other cases (At Sea, etc.). People for whom no birthplace was provided were assigned a birthplace during the editing process based on several criteria. For example, the birthplace of a child might have been assigned based on the birthplace of it's mother and/or father.

Country of birth and Year of entry. People born outside the United States (see Country of Birth) were asked the year they came to the United States to live. Persons in citizenship categories (2) to (5) (see Citizenship Status) for whom no year of entry was reported were assigned a value for "Year of Entry' during the editing process based on other reported information.

Educational attainment. Data on educational attainment are derived from a single question that asks, "What is the highest grade of school...has completed, or the highest degree...has received?"

The single educational attainment question now in use was introduced in the CPS beginning January 1992, and is similar to that used in the 1990 Decennial Census of Population and Housing. Consequently, data on educational attainment from the 1992 CPS are not directly comparable to CPS data from earlier years. The new question replaces the previous two-part question used in the CPS that asked respondents to report the highest grade they had attended, and whether or not they had completed that grade.

The questions on educational attainment apply only to progress in "regular" schools. Such schools include graded public, private, and parochial elementary and high schools (both junior and senior high schools), colleges, universities, and professional schools, whether day schools or night schools. Thus, regular schooling is that which may advance a person toward an elementary school certificate or high school diploma, or a college, university, or professional school degree. Schooling in other than regular schools was counted only if the credits obtained are regarded as transferable to a school in the regular school system.

Ethnic origin. People of Hispanic origin were identified by a question that asked for self-identification of the persons' origin or descent. Respondents were asked to select their origin (and the origin of other household members) from a "flash card" listing ethnic origins. People of Hispanic origin, in particular, were those who indicated that their origin was Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or some other Hispanic origin. It should be noted that people of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

People who were Non-Hispanic White origin, were identified by crossing the responses to two self-identification questions: (1) origin or descent and (2) race. Respondents were asked to select their race (and the race of other household members) from a "flash card" listing racial groups. Beginning with March 1989, the population is divided into five groups on the basis of race: White, Black, American Indian, Eskimo or Aleut, Asian or Pacific Islander, and Other races. The last category includes any other race except the four mentioned. Respondents who selected their race as White and indicated that their origin was not one of the Hispanic origin subgroups Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, were called Non-Hispanic White origin.

Family. A family is a group of two people or more (one of whom is the householder) related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together; all such people (including related subfamily members) are considered as members of one family. Beginning with the 1980 Current Population Survey, unrelated subfamilies (referred to in the past as secondary families) are no longer included in the count of families, nor are the members of unrelated subfamilies included in the count of family members. The number of families is equal to the number of family households, however, the count of family members differs from the count of family household members because family household members include any non-relatives living in the household.

Family group. A family group is any two or more people (not necessarily including a householder) residing together, and related by birth, marriage, or adoption. A household may be composed of one such group, more than one, or none at all. The count of family groups includes family households, related subfamilies, and unrelated subfamilies.

Family household. A family household is a household maintained by a householder who is in a family (as defined above), and includes any unrelated people (unrelated subfamily members and/or secondary individuals) who may be residing there. The number of family households is equal to the number of families. The count of family household members differs from the count of family members, however, in that the family household members include all people living in the household, whereas family members include only the householder and his/her relatives. See the definition of family.

Foreign-born. (See Native born)

Geographic regions. (See Regions, geographic)

Group quarters. As of 1983, group quarters were defined in the current population survey as noninstitutional living arrangements for groups not living in conventional housing units or groups living in housing units containing ten or more unrelated people or nine or more people unrelated to the person in charge. (Prior to 1983, group quarters included housing units containing five or more people unrelated to the person in charge.) Examples of people in group quarters include a person residing in a rooming house, in staff quarters at a hospital, or in a halfway house. Beginning in 1972, inmates of institutions have not been included in the Current Population Survey.

Head Start. Children enrolled in Head Start programs or similar programs sponsored by local agencies to provide preschool education to young children are counted under nursery school or kindergarten as appropriate. (Also see, Schools, Nursery)

Health Insurance Coverage. A person was considered covered by health insurance at some time during the year if he or she was covered by at least one of the following types of coverages:

  1. Employer/union
  2. Privately purchased (not related to employment)
  3. Medicare
  4. Medicaid
  5. Military health care (military, CHAMPUS, CHAMPVA, VA, Indian Health Services)
  6. Someone outside the household
  7. Other
An individual can have more than one type of coverage during the year.

Household. A household consists of all the people who occupy a housing unit. A house, an apartment or other group of rooms, or a single room, is regarded as a housing unit when it is occupied or intended for occupancy as separate living quarters; that is, when the occupants do not live and eat with any other persons in the structure and there is direct access from the outside or through a common hall.

A household includes the related family members and all the unrelated people, if any, such as lodgers, foster children, wards, or employees who share the housing unit. A person living alone in a housing unit, or a group of unrelated people sharing a housing unit such as partners or roomers, is also counted as a household. The count of households excludes group quarters. There are two major categories of households, "family" and "nonfamily". (See definitions of Family household and Nonfamily household).

Household, family, or subfamily, Size of. The term "size of household" includes all the people occupying a housing unit. "Size of family" includes the family householder and all other people in the living quarters who are related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption. "Size of related subfamily" includes the husband and wife or the lone parent and their never- married sons and daughters under 18 years of age. "Size of unrelated subfamily" includes the reference person and all other members related to the reference person. If a family has a related subfamily among its members, the size of the family includes the members of the related subfamily.

Household, nonfamily. A nonfamily household consists of a householder living alone (a one-person household) or where the householder shares the home exclusively with people to whom he/she is not related.

Householder. The householder refers to the person (or one of the people) in whose name the housing unit is owned or rented (maintained) or, if there is no such person, any adult member, excluding roomers, boarders, or paid employees. If the house is owned or rented jointly by a married couple, the householder may be either the husband or the wife. The person designated as the householder is the "reference person" to whom the relationship of all other household members, if any, is recorded.

The number of householders is equal to the number of households. Also, the number of family householders is equal to the number of families.

Head versus householder. Beginning with the 1980 CPS, the Bureau of the Census discontinued the use of the terms "head of household" and "head of family." Instead, the terms "householder" and "family householder" are used. Recent social changes have resulted in greater sharing of household responsibilities among the adult members and, therefore, have made the term "head" increasingly inappropriate in the analysis of household and family data. Specifically, beginning in 1980, the Census Bureau discontinued its longtime practice of always classifying the husband as the reference person (head) when he and his wife are living together.

Marital status. The marital status classification identifies four major categories: never married, married, widowed, and divorced. These terms refer to the marital status at the time of the enumeration.

The category "married" is further divided into "married, spouse present," "separated," and "other married, spouse absent." A person was classified as "married, spouse present" if the husband or wife was reported as a member of the household, even though he or she may have been temporarily absent on business or on vacation, visiting, in a hospital, etc., at the time of the enumeration. People reported as separated included those with legal separations, those living apart with intentions of obtaining a divorce, and other people permanently or temporarily separated because of marital discord. The group "other married, spouse absent" includes married people living apart because either the husband or wife was employed and living at a considerable distance from home, was serving away from home in the Armed Forces, had moved to another area, or had a different place of residence for any other reason except separation as defined above.

Single, when used as a marital status category, is the sum of never-married, widowed, and divorced people. "Single," when used in the context of "single-parent family/household," means only one parent is present in the home. The parent may be never- married, widowed, divorced, or married, spouse absent.

Marriage cohort. A marriage cohort is a group of women who were first married in a specified calendar period,regardless of any subsequent changes in marital status.

Marriage, Age at first. The estimated median age at first marriage, is an approximation derived indirectly from tabulations of marital status and age. In computing this median, several steps are involved. First, the expected proportion of young people who will ever marry during their lifetime is computed. Second, one-half of this expected proportion is calculated. And third, the current age of young people who are at this halfway mark is computed. From the assumptions made and the procedures used, it follows that the date of the survey is also the date when this halfway mark is reached. Half of the young people of the given age who will ever get married had done so prior to the survey date and half are expected to marry in years to come.

Married couple. A married couple, as defined for census purposes, is a husband and wife enumerated as members of the same household. The married couple may or may not have children living with them. The expression "husband-wife" or "married- couple" before the term "household," "family," or "subfamily" indicates that the household, family, or subfamily is maintained by a husband and wife. The number of married couples equals the count of married-couple families plus related and unrelated married-couple subfamilies.

Metropolitan-nonmetropolitan residence. The general concept of a metropolitan area (MA) is one of a large population nucleus, together with adjacent communities that have a high degree of economic and social integration with that nucleus. Some MA's are defined around two or more nuclei.

The MA classification is a statistical standard, developed for use by Federal agencies in the production, analysis, and publication of data on MA's. The MA's are designated and defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget, following a set of official published standards. These standards were developed by the interagency Federal Executive Committee on Metropolitan Areas, with the aim of producing definitions that are as consistent as possible for all MA's nationwide.

Each MA must contain either a place with a minimum population of 50,000 or a Census Bureau-defined urbanized area and a total MA population of at least 100,000 (75,000 in New England). An MA is comprised of one or more central counties, and an MA may also include one or more outlying counties that have closed economic and social relationships with the central county. An outlying county must have a specified level of commuting to the central counties and also must meet certain standards regarding metropolitan character, such as population density, urban population, and population growth. In New England, MA's are composed of cities and towns rather than whole counties.

The territory, population, and housing units in MA's are referred to as "metropolitan." The metropolitan category is subdivided into "inside central city" and "outside central city." The territory, population, and housing units located outside MA's are referred to as "nonmetropolitan."

To meet the needs of various users, the standards provide for a flexible structure of metropolitan definitions that classify an MA either as a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) or as a consolidated metropolitan statistical area (CMSA) that is divided into primary metropolitan statistical areas (PMSA's). Documentation of the MA standards and how they are applied is available from the Secretary, Federal Executive Committee on Metropolitan Areas, Population Division, U.S. Bureau of the Census, Washington, DC 20233.

Central city. In each MSA and CMSA, the largest place and, in some cases, additional places are designated as "central cities" under the official standards. A few PMSA's do not have central cities. The largest central city and, in some cases, up to two additional central cities are included in the title of the MA; there are also central cities that are not included in an MA title. An MA central city does not include any part of that city that extends outside the MA boundary.

Consolidated and primary metropolitan statistical area. If an area that qualifies as an MA has more than one million people, primary metropolitan statistical areas (PMSA's) may be defined within it. PMSA's consist of a large urbanized county or cluster of counties that demonstrates very strong internal economic and social links, in addition to close ties to other portions of the larger area. When PMSA's are established, the larger area of which they are component parts is designated a consolidated metropolitan statistical area (CMSA).

Metropolitan statistical area. Metropolitan statistical areas are relatively freestanding MA's and are not closely associated with other MA's. These areas are typically surrounded by nonmetropolitan counties.

Migration, allocations of data. In the March CPS, complete mobility information is usually not reported for about 10 percent of all people. In these cases, people missing mobility data are assigned the mobility status and previous residence obtained for other family members or allocated using the data for another sample person who did respond to the questions. The mobility status and previous residence allocated to a nonrespondent is that obtained for another person with similar demographic characteristics who has been selected systematically in the order in which individual records are processed. Characteristics used in these allocations (when assignment of data for other family members is not possible) are age, race, years of school completed, and metropolitan status and state of current residence. State of previous residence is used instead of state of current residence if the individual being allocated data reported state of previous residence but not city or county.

Migration universe. The mobility data are derived from the answers to questions on residence 1 year before the survey date and the geographical location of the respondent's current residence. These questions were asked for all members of the survey household who were 1 year old and over on the survey date. (See the section, "Migration, Allocations of Data" for a discussion of the allocation of mobility data for people for whom no response or only partial responses to the mobility questions were given.)

Mobility status. The population was classified according to mobility status on the basis of a comparison between the place of residence of each individual to the time of the March survey and the place of residence 1 year earlier. Nonmovers are all people who were living in the same house at the end of the migration period and the beginning of the migration period. Movers are all people who were living in a different house at the end of the period rather than at the beginning. Movers are further classified as to whether they were living in the same or different county, state, region, or were movers from abroad. Movers are also categorized by whether they moved within or between central cities, suburbs, and nonmetropolitan areas of the United States.

Modal grade: (see School, Modal grade)

Native born. Native born people are citizens at birth. All people with the following citizenship status are native born: (1) Born in the United States; (2) Born in Puerto Rico or a U.S., outlying area; or (3) Born abroad of American parents (see Citizenship status). All other people are foreign born.

Nativity. There are two major categories of nativity, Native born and Foreign born (see Native born above).

Parity. Parity is the number of children ever born to a woman. In some cases, use of the term "parity" provides a less cumbersome expression, e.g., "two-parity women" as opposed to "women with two children ever born."

Population coverage. The universe for the CPS includes the civilian noninstitutional population of the United States and members of the Armed Forces in the United States living off post or with their families on post, but excludes all other members of the Armed Forces. The information on the Hispanic population from the CPS was collected in the 50 States and the District of Columbia and, therefore, does not include residents of outlying areas or U.S. territories such as Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Poverty definition. Following the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB's) Directive 14, the Census Bureau uses a set of money income thresholds that vary by family size and composition to detect who is poor. If a family's total income is less than that family's threshold, then that family, and every individual in it, is considered poor. The poverty thresholds do not vary geographically, but they are updated annually for inflation with the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U). The official poverty definition counts money income before taxes and excludes capital gains and noncash benefits (such as public housing, medicaid, and food stamps).

Poverty statistics are based on a definition developed by Mollie Orshansky of the Social Security Administration (SSA)in 19641 and revised in 1969 and 1981 by interagency committees. This definition was established as the official definition of poverty for statistical use in all Executive departments by the Bureau of the Budget (BoB) in 1969 (in Circular No. A-46); after BoB became The Office of Management and Budget, this was reconfirmed in Statistical Policy Directive No. 14.

The original poverty definition provided a range of income cutoffs or thresholds adjusted by such factors as family size, sex of the family head, number of children under 18 years old, and farm-nonfarm residence. At the core of this definition of poverty was the economy food plan, the least costly of four nutritionally adequate food plans designed by the Department of Agriculture. It was determined from the Department of Agriculture's 1955 Household Food Consumption Survey that families of three or more people spent approximately one-third of their after-tax money income on food; accordingly, poverty thresholds for families of three or more people were set at three times the cost of the economy food plan. Different procedures were used to calculate poverty thresholds for two-person families and people living alone in order to compensate for the relatively larger fixed expenses of these smaller units. For two-person families, the cost of the economy food plan was multiplied by a factor of 3.7 (also derived from the 1955 survey). For unrelated individuals (one-person units), no multiplier was used; poverty thresholds were instead calculated as a fixed proportion of the corresponding thresholds for two-person units. Annual updates of these SSA poverty thresholds were based on price changes of the items in the economy food plan.

As a result of deliberations of a Federal interagency committee in 1969, the following two modifications to the original SSA definition of poverty were adopted2:

  1. The SSA thresholds for nonfarm families were retained for the base year 1963, but annual adjustments in the levels were based on changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rather than on changes in the cost of foods in the economy food plan.
  2. The farm thresholds were raised from 70 to 85 percent of the corresponding nonfarm levels. The combined impact of these two modifications resulted in an increase in the tabulated totals for 1967 of 360,000 poor families and 1.6 million poor people.
In 1981, three additional modifications in the poverty definition recommended by another interagency committee were adopted for implementation in the March 1982 CPS as well as the 1980 census:
  1. Elimination of separate thresholds for farm families.
  2. Elimination (by averaging) of separate thresholds for female-householder families and "all other" families (earlier termed "male-headed" families).
  3. Extension of the detailed poverty threshold matrix to make the largest family size category "nine people or more"
For further details, see the section, "Changes in the Definition of Poverty," in Current Population Reports, Series P- 60, No. 133.

The poverty thresholds are increased each year by the same percentage as the annual average Consumer Price Index (CPI). The poverty thresholds are currently adjusted using the annual average CPI-U (1982-84 = 100). This base year has been used since 1988. From 1980 through 1987, the thresholds were adjusted using the CPI-U (1967 = 100). The CPI (1963 = 100) was used to adjust thresholds prior to 1980.

For further information on how the poverty thresholds were developed and subsequent changes in them, see Gordon M. Fisher, "The Development and History of the Poverty Thresholds," Social Security Bulletin, vol.55, no.4, Winter 1992, pp. 3-14.

1 For a detailed discussion of the original SSA poverty thresholds, see Mollie Orshansky, Counting the Poor: Another Look at the Poverty Profile, Social Security Bulletin, vol. 28, no. 1, January 1965, pp. 3-29 (reprinted in Social Security Bulletin, vol. 51, no. 10, October 1988, pp. 25-51); and Who's Who Among the Poor: A Demographic View of Poverty, Social Security Bulletin, vol. 28, no. 7, July 1965, pp. 3-32.

2 Poverty thresholds for 1959-1967 were recalculated on this basis, and revised poverty population figures for those years were tabulated using the revised thresholds. These revised 1959- 1967 poverty population figures have been published in Census Bureau reports issued since August 1969 (including the present report). Because of this revision, poverty statistics from documents dated before August 1969 are not comparable with current poverty statistics.

Race. The race of individuals was identified by a question that asked for self-identification of the person's race. Respondents were asked to select their race from a "flashcard" listing racial groups.

The population is divided into five groups on the basis of race: White; Black; American Indian, Eskimo or Aleut; Asian or Pacific Islander; and Other races beginning with March 1989. The last category includes any other race except the four mentioned. In most of the published tables "Other races" are included in the total population data line but are not shown individually.

Reference person. The reference person is the person to whom the relationship of other people in the household is recorded. The household reference person is the person listed as the householder (see definition of "Householder"). The subfamily reference person is either the single parent or the husband/wife in a married-couple situation.

Residence, Duration of (Voting Supplements). Data on duration of residence were obtained from replies to the following question asked in the November Voting Supplements: "How long has (this person) lived at this address?"

Less than 1 month 1 to 6 months 7 to 11 months 1 to 2 years 3 to 4 years 5 years or longer Don't know
Rounding. Percentages are rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent; therefore, the percentages in a distribution do not always add to exactly 100.0 percent.

Size of household, family, or subfamily. (See Household, family, or subfamily, size of)

Secondary individuals. Secondary individuals are people of any age who reside in a household, but are not related to the householder (except unrelated subfamily members). People who reside in group quarters are also secondary individuals. Examples of a secondary individual include (1) a guest, partner, roommate, or resident employee; (2) a foster child; or (3) a person residing in a rooming house, a halfway house, staff quarters at a hospital, or other type of group quarters.

Step family. A Step family is a married-couple family household with at least one child under age 18 who is a stepchild (i.e., a son or daughter through marriage, but not by birth) of the householder. This definition undercounts the true number of step families in instances where the parent of the natural born or biological child is the householder and that parents spouse is not the child's parent, as biological or step-parentage is not ascertained in the CPS for both parents.

Subfamily. A subfamily is a married couple with or without children, or a single parent with one or more own never-married children under 18 years old. A subfamily does not maintain their own household, but lives in the home of someone else.

Related subfamily. A related subfamily is a married couple with or without children, or one parent with one or more own never married children under 18 years old, living in a household and related to, but not including, the person or couple who maintains the household. One example of a related subfamily is a young married couple sharing the home of the husband's or wife's parents. The number of related subfamilies is not included in the count of families.

Unrelated subfamily. An unrelated subfamily (formerly called a secondary family) is a married couple with or without children, or a single parent with one or more own never-married children under 18 years old living in a household. Unrelated subfamily members are not related to the householder. An unrelated subfamily may include people such as guests, partners, roommates, or resident employees and their spouses and/or children. The number of unrelated subfamily members is included in the total number of household members, but is not included in the count of family members.

Beginning in 1989, any person(s) who is not related to the householder and who is not the husband, wife, parent, or child in an unrelated subfamily is counted as an unrelated individual.

Tenure. A housing unit is "owned" if the owner or co-owner lives in the unit, even if it is mortgaged or not fully paid for. A cooperative or condominium unit is "owned only if the owner or co-owner lives in it. All other occupied units are classified as "rented," including units rented for cash rent and those occupied without payment of cash rent.

Undocumented immigrants or illegal aliens. Because all residents of the United States living in households are represented in the sample of households interviewed by the CPS, undocumented immigrants or illegal aliens are probably included in CPS data. Because the CPS makes no attempt to ascertain the legal status of any person interviwed, these individuals cannot be identified from CPS data.

Units in structure. In the determination of the number of units in a structure, all housing units, both occupied and vacant, were counted. The statistics are presented in terms of the number of occupied housing units in structures of specified size, not in terms of the number of residential structures.

Unmarried couple. An unmarried couple is composed of two unrelated adults of the opposite sex (one of whom is the householder) who share a housing unit with or without the presence of children under 15 years old. Unmarried couple households contain only two adults.

Unrelated individuals. Unrelated individuals are people of any age who are not members of families or subfamilies.

Work Experience

A person with work experience is one who, during the preceding calendar year, did any work for pay or profit or worked without pay on a family-operated farm or business at any time during the year, on a part-time or full-time basis. A full-time worker is one who worked 35 hours or more per week during a majority of the weeks worked during the preceding calendar year. A year-round worker is one who worked for 50 weeks or more during the preceding calendar year. A full-time, year-round worker is a person who worked full time (35 or more hours per week) and 50 or more weeks during the previous calendar year.

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division,
Fertility & Family Statistics Branch
Maintained By: Laura K. Yax (Population Division)


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