Family Background

Family Background

Mature Women Family Background Variables

Important Information

The sampling design for the Original Cohorts produced a number of multiple respondent households. A small number of Mature Women have a sister in the Mature Women cohort or a brother in the Older Men cohort. These multiple respondent households provide a great deal of data about a respondent's siblings in addition to that collected during the regular surveys. For more information, see the Household Composition section.

The Mature 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 15.

Parent Background

In the 1967 interview, the women were asked about the birth countries of their parents and grandparents; Table MW1 depicts the results.

Table MW1. Birth Country of Parents and Grandparents

Country Mother Father Maternal
U.S. or Canada 4409 4356 3622 3696 3588 3633
N or W Europe1 190 212 332 378 346 310
C or E Europe2 137 160 65 70 55 67
S Europe3 136 179 32 31 41 37
Latin America4 69 67 8 8 9 9
Other 82 91 10 9 12 10
Not available 60 18 1014 991 1032 1017
Note: This table is based on R00504.00-R00509.00 from the 1967 survey.
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.

Information on the life status of the respondent's and her husband's parents was collected in 1967, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1981, 1984, 1989, 1997, 2001, and 2003. The 1981 survey also asked how frequently respondents had contact with their parents and parents-in-law, as well as the distance they lived from each. In 1984, 1989, and 1997, respondents were again asked about the distance they lived from their parents and parents-in-law. These surveys also collected information on whether the respondent's or her husband's parents needed help for health reasons and, if so, who provided the care. The 1992, 1997, 2001, and 2003 surveys collected additional information on the respondents' biological parents including their current ages (if they were still alive) or the ages when they died. For all deceased parents, the survey collected information on the main cause of death. The 1997 survey also asked about each parent's overall health condition. Other information from these detailed 1997, 2001, and 2003 series of questions is discussed in the Transfers section.


The Mature Women surveys collected data about siblings in two survey years. The first collection, in 1977, asked respondents to provide the name, sex, birth date, and highest grade completed of up to 10 siblings who were not living in their home on the date of the survey. Respondents were also asked to count how many brothers and sisters lived in their home currently; information about these siblings is on the 1977 "Household Roster." In 1981, the survey asked how many living brothers and how many living sisters the respondent had. The respondent also answered questions about how often she contacted her closest sibling and the distance that sibling lived from the respondent's home.

Respondent Background at Age 15

The 1967 survey asked respondents where they were born and how long they had lived at their current residence. Of the 5,083 respondents, 4,836 (95.1%) 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 15 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 respondent's parents.

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.