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Classification and coding process

Classification criteria

Relationship is a hierarchical classification with three levels. At level 1, close familial relationships (spouse/partner, child and parent) are the criteria for classification. This is because these relationships (spouse/partner, parent, child) are needed to identify different types of households and families. All other relationships are aggregated at level 1 into three broad categories: 'other relative', 'non-relative' and 'guest/visitor/inmate/patient/resident'.

At level 2 of the classification, more detail is added about the types of relationships. Information on opposite and same-sex partnerships is included at this level as this will help identify different couple relationships, and hope to provide further insight into various household and family types.

Other key familial relationships included at this level are grandparent and grandchild relationships and sibling relationships. Of the non-familial relationships only 'flatmate' is given at level 2. This is because 'flatmate' is a frequent response to the relationship in a dwelling question. It helps identify, for example, households of unrelated people, using the standard classification for household composition.

Step relationships for parent and child have been included at level 2 of the new classification. This will help to identify a step-family form, which was not possible with the previous version of the classification.

Level 3 classifies familial and non-familial relationships in more detail.

The classification includes several categories for people who are not related to a given person, but relationships to people who are not related to the given person (child of flatmate, child of boarder, child of employer, child of employee, partner of employee). These categories are necessary because they are common responses from respondents and the additional information obtained allows households and families to be more accurately classified.

Classification

The standard classification of relationship is a hierarchical classification of three levels. Level 1 of the classification has 12 categories, level 2 has 33 categories and level 3 has 52 categories – including residual categories.

The full classification is available in Download of classification.

The residual categories are defined in the Glossary.

Classification Relationship Between Members in a Private Dwelling – Standard Classification 2008 - Master Version
Abbreviation RELAT08.MASTER
Version V1.0
Effective date 20/06/2008
 
Classification Relationship Between Members in a Private Dwelling – Standard Classification 2008 - Alternate Version 1
Abbreviation RELAT08.ALTVER1
Version V1.0
Effective date 20/06/2008
 
Classification Relationship Between Members in a Private Dwelling – Standard Classification 2008 - Alternate Version 2
Abbreviation RELAT08.ALTVER2
Version V1.0
Effective date 20/06/2008
 
Classification Relationship Between Members in a Private Dwelling – Standard Classification 2008 - Alternate Version 3
Abbreviation RELAT08.ALTVER3
Version V1.0
Effective date 20/06/2008

Coding process

Coding process

Where information is conflicting or incomplete, or intent unclear, the following guidelines are recommended:

  • Familial relationships are the first priority for the purpose of deriving household and family data. Therefore, people should be coded as 'related' rather than 'unrelated' when both types of relationships are reported or when conflicting relationships are reported and the intent of the respondent is not clear.
  • If two familial relationships are given for one person, then the closer relationship should be coded. For example, if "spouse" and "second cousin" are given, "spouse" should be coded.
  • Foster child and foster parent are included under the 'other child' and other parent' categories respectively.
  • When people indicate that they live with a relative or relatives but no further information on the nature of the relationship can be ascertained, responses are coded to the 'other relative, nfd ' category.
  • For responses that specify a type of relative that is not elsewhere in the classification – such as "my great aunt's second cousin" – the category 'other relative, nec' is used.
  • Use of the 'guests/visitors' category – for some household surveys, guests/visitors fall out of the scope of the collection, as they are not usual residents of the given household, or as determined by coverage of the relationship variable. However, this category is necessary in the classification because it is a common response from respondents for the relationship variable and allows responses to be accurately classified.
  • The residual categories are used for responses that fall outside the categories in the classification. The residual categories are defined in the glossary.

Note for sample surveys:

  • When the relationship classification forms the basis for the derivation of the family classifications, interviewers or respondents are encouraged to record informal or formal foster relationships as a parent/child relationship where they are otherwise unrelated.

A codefile is used to code responses. A codefile is a comprehensive list of probable survey responses and the classification categories to which they are coded. The codefile for relationship contains relationships that people are likely to report such as "mum", "god-son", "grandma" etc.

Guidelines for adherence to the standard

The previous versions of the Relationship standard recommended the selection of the one reference person in the household to whom the relationship of all other members can be reported. However, it is important to note that this approach does not and cannot identify all the relationships in a given household, especially where a household has multiple families. Therefore, a more elaborative method has been developed, namely the relationship matrix approach. The relationship matrix approach allows for the collection of all relationships between all household members.

Where feasible, the relationship matrix approach is recommended for collecting information on the relationship variable. Otherwise, users are recommended to use the dwelling reference person approach combined with living arrangements.

In some surveys, where household and family type information is output only for people usually resident in the household, the usual residence indicator may be used to determine usual residents in a private dwelling. For other social surveys, where the usual residence indicator is not derived, people surveyed in the same private dwelling may be identified by using a set of defining questions as determined by the scope and coverage rules for the survey.

The living arrangements information may help to further identify relationship information for people who are in complex families and households where the relationship matrix is not used. The combination of this information may be used to derive familial and non-familial relationships of those present in the private dwelling at the time of the survey, this includes absentees.

Different types of surveys require different types of questions and both the relationship matrix and relationship to reference person are suitable methods for collecting information on the relationship variable depending on the survey needs.

Guidelines and requirements for using the 'relationship to reference person' or the 'household relationship matrix' approach are provided in the Questionnaire module page.

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