Family Background

Family Background


Young Women Family Background Variables

Important Information

The sampling design for the Original Cohorts produced a number of multiple respondent households. Over 30 percent of Young Women had a mother in the Mature Women cohort; 20 percent had a father in the Older Men cohort. More than 50 percent of Young Women had a sister in the Young Women cohort, a brother in the Young Men cohort, or both. These multiple respondent households provide a great deal of data about a respondent's parents and siblings in addition to that collected during the regular surveys. For more information, see the Household Composition section.

The Young Women surveys provide researchers with a variety of family background data. The surveys collected information on three primary topics: parents, siblings, and the respondent's family background at age 14.

Parent Background

In the 1968 interview, the women were asked about the birth countries of their parents and grandparents; Table YW1 depicts the results.

Table YW1. Birth Country of Parents and Grandparents

Country Mother Father Maternal
U.S. or Canada 4996 4940 4276 4322 4163 4238
N or W Europe1 48 54 160 144 227 195
C or E Europe2 29 49 155 147 158 144
S Europe3 27 44 120 100 142 120
Latin America4 32 46 40 43 39 37
Other 23 22 26 19 26 21
Not available 4 4 382 384 404 404
Note: This table is based on R00384.00-R00389.00 in the 1968 interview.
1 Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, Wales.
2 Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, U.S.S.R., Yugoslavia.
3 Andorra, Azores, Gibraltar, Gozo, Greece, Italy, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Trieste, Vatican City, Europe--Country not specified.
4 Mexico, Central America, South America.

If a respondent did not live in her parents' household, five of the first six surveys asked about the number of weeks worked by her parents, whether they usually worked full- or part-time, and their occupation. This information is in the "Household Roster" for respondents still residing with their parents.

The 1968 survey collected the life status of the respondent's and her husband's parents. In 1988 and 1991, additional information on the respondents' biological parents included their current ages (if they were still alive) or the ages when they died. The 1991 survey also asked about the main cause of death for all deceased parents. The in-depth Parents and Transfers section of the 1993, 1997, 2001, and 2003 surveys collected information on the respondent's and her husband's biological parents, including their current ages or the ages when they died. The respondent also reported the month and year of each parent's birth and death, as applicable. In these surveys, information was also collected about each parent's overall health and the distance each parent lived from the respondent. Other information from this detailed series of questions is discussed in the Transfers section.


The Young Women surveys collected sibling data six times. The first collection, in 1968, asked respondents how many brothers and sisters lived outside their home. It also asked the age and highest grade completed of the oldest sibling. In 1978, a full collection of information about siblings was included in the survey. Respondents were asked to provide the name, sex, birth date, and highest grade completed of up to 10 siblings who were not living in their home at the interview date. Respondents were also asked to count how many brothers and sisters lived in their home currently; information about these siblings is in the "Household Roster." In 1983, 1988, 1991, and 1993, respondents were asked if they or their husbands had any dependents; they could then list how many brothers or sisters were dependent on them for at least half their support. Finally, in 1993, another full roster of siblings was included in the survey. Respondents were asked to state the sibling's name, sex, age, life status, highest grade completed, number of children, and age when first child was born for up to 10 siblings.

Respondent Background at Age 14

The 1968 survey asked respondents where they were born and how long they had lived at their current residence. Of the 5,159 respondents, 5,043 (97.8%) reported having been born in the United States.

Information was also collected during the initial interview about the living arrangements of respondents when they were 14 years old, including with whom the respondent lived and whether the residence was in a large or small city or in the country. In addition, the survey collected the occupation and the highest grade completed of the respondents' parents. In 1978, the respondent was again asked whether her mother worked when she was a teenager. If so, follow-up questions asked about her mother's occupation and about the respondent's perception of how her mother felt about working. The 1968 survey also asked whether magazines and newspapers were available in the respondent's home at age 14 and whether the respondent or someone in the household had a library card. In 1973, the survey asked the respondent whether a language other than English was spoken in the home when she was a child and, if so, which language.

Related Variables: In each survey, information is collected on all members of the respondent's household; see the Household Composition section for details. More information about the respondent's background is available in the Race, Ethnicity & Nationality section.

Survey Instruments: Questions pertaining to family background can be found within the Family Background sections of the questionnaires. Questions about life status of parents are located in the Health or Parents and Transfers sections of the questionnaires.