Implications of Alternative Definitions of “Family”
Kathryn H. Tillman, Florida State University
Charles B. Nam, Florida State University
The traditional definition of the family used in most censuses and surveys – persons related by blood, marriage, or adoption and living in the same residence – limits the description and analysis of family structure. We use the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study to develop alternative definitions of “family” and assess differences in describing family structure. Three definitions are employed – the traditional definition, one that also includes cohabiting adults and their children living in the same residence, and one that includes all of the above people irrespective of residence. We find significant differences in family size and composition across the three definitions and by stages in the life cycle. These findings have implications for interpretation of group variations and time trends in family structure and size.