Households and Families in Six Race/Ethnic Groups: Issues for Surveys Identified in Qualitative Studies
Laurie Schwede, U.S. Census Bureau
Household structure is changing due to demographic and cultural factors. In 2000, the Census Bureau funded an integrated set of exploratory ethnographic studies in six race/ethnic groups--Koreans, Latinos, African Americans, whites, Navajos, and Inupiaq Eskimos--using the same methods and questions, at the same time. The objectives were to learn about complex households, how they vary across subpopulations, and how to improve their enumeration. Complex households are those with persons outside the nuclear family: nonrelatives, distant relatives, etc. This paper has three purposes. The first shows race/ethnic variations in household and family structure. The second identifies major crosscutting themes with implications for the quality of survey data on households/families: 1) differences in the definition of "household"; 2) cultural, linguistic, and nationality differences; and 3) issues with the relationship question and household type variable. The third suggests new research to improve survey collection of household and family type data.