This study is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging (NACDA), the aging program within ICPSR. NACDA is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Heath (NIH).

National Survey of Families and Households: Wave I, 1987-1988, and Wave II, 1992-1994 (ICPSR 6906) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):


The National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) provides data on the family experience in the United States. At a time when the range of family structures is becoming more and more diverse, this study permits a close examination of the resulting family compositions and household operations. Data were gathered on the composition of families, family background, and on the relationship of household members to each other, including marriage, separation, and divorce histories, adoption, child custody arrangements, and stepfamily relations. Respondents were also asked about the quality of their relationships with their parents, children, and in-laws. Information on economic well-being is also provided, including earnings from wages, self-employment income, interest, dividends, investments, pensions, Social Security, public assistance, and child support/alimony. Demographic variables include sex, age, and marital status. For Wave I of the NSFH, which was conducted from March 1987 through May 1988, one adult, the primary respondent, was chosen from each of the households in the sample. In addition to the main interview conducted with the primary respondent, a shorter, self-administered questionnaire was given to the spouse or cohabiting partner of the primary respondent. The NSFH Wave I sample was reinterviewed for the second wave of the survey, which was conducted from 1992 through August of 1994. The Wave II survey included the following components: (1) an interview of all surviving members of the original sample via face-to-face personal interview, (2) a personal interview with the current spouse or cohabiting partner almost identical to the interview with the main respondent, (3) a personal interview with the original spouse or partner of the primary respondent in cases where this relationship had ended, (4) a telephone interview with "focal children" who were originally aged 13-18 in Wave I, (5) a short telephone interview with "focal children" who were originally aged 5-12 in Wave I, (6) short proxy interviews with a surviving spouse or other relative in cases where the original respondent had died or was too ill to interview, and (7) a telephone interview with a randomly-selected parent of the main respondent. Part 1 of this collection contains Wave I data, and Parts 2-16 provide data for Wave II.

Series: National Survey of Families and Households Series

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.


WARNING: Because this study has many datasets, the download all files option has been suppressed, and you will need to download one dataset at a time.

WARNING: This study is over 150MB in size and may take several minutes to download on a typical internet connection.

DS1:  Wave I Data - Download All Files (116,412 KB)
DS2:  Wave II Main Data for Primary Respondent - Download All Files (97,546 KB)
DS3:  Wave II Main Data for Current Spouse/Partner - Download All Files (62,339 KB)
DS4:  Wave II Main Data for Ex-Spouse/Partner - Download All Files (23,435 KB)
DS5:  Wave II Self-Enumerated Data for Primary Respondent - Download All Files (24,216 KB)
DS6:  Wave II Self-Enumerated Data for Current Spouse/Partner - Download All Files (21,102 KB)
DS7:  Wave II Self-Enumerated Data for Ex-Spouse/Partner - Download All Files (17,661 KB)
DS9:  Wave II Constructed Variables Data for Primary Respondent - Download All Files (36,628 KB)
DS10:  Wave II Constructed Variables Data for Current Spouse/Partner - Download All Files (28,082 KB)
DS11:  Wave II Constructed Variables Data for Ex-Spouse/Partner - Download All Files (18,638 KB)
DS12:  Wave II Best Measures Income Data - Download All Files (32,591 KB)

Study Description


Bumpass, Larry L., and James A. Sweet. National Survey of Families and Households: Wave I, 1987-1988, and Wave II, 1992-1994. ICPSR6906-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research[distributor], 1997. doi:10.3886/ICPSR6906.v1

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Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   adoption, child custody, child support, divorce, education, experience, families, family life, family relationships, family structure, fertility, financial assets, household composition, income, job history, life events, life history, living arrangements, marital relationships, parental attitudes, psychological wellbeing, social contact, stepfamilies, wages and salaries

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Universe:   Noninstitutionalized population aged 19 and older or married in the contiguous United States.

Data Types:   survey data

Data Collection Notes:

(1) This data collection includes an updated version of Wave I data (nine invalid cases were deleted, a small number of respondent sex codes were changed, and changes were made to the documentation), as well as the addition of previously unreleased Wave II data from the survey, representing the complete National Survey of Families and Households. As such, it supersedes the Wave I data that were released in the NATIONAL SURVEY OF FAMILIES AND HOUSEHOLDS, 1987-1988 (ICPSR 6041). (2) Two percent of the interviews were conducted in Spanish. (3) The skip maps are available only in hardcopy form upon request from ICPSR. (4) Lists of additional related publications and papers are contained in the codebook documentation. (5) This ICPSR release of the NSFH consists of the March 1997 version of this data collection. (6) Users of the NSFH data should consult the NSFH website at to check for periodic updates of the data. The website also offers a bibliography, working papers, and other information about NSFH. Users may also contact the ICPSR resource person for this site at


Sample:   National, stratified, multistage area probability sample based on 1985 population projections for Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas and nonmetropolitan counties. Minorities (Blacks, Puerto Ricans, and Chicanos), single parents, persons with stepchildren, cohabiting persons, and persons who were recently married were double-sampled.

Data Source:

personal interviews and self-enumerated questionnaires


Original ICPSR Release:  

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