National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging

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, 1987-1988 (ICPSR 6041)

Principal Investigator(s): Bumpass, Larry L., University of Wisconsin-Madison. Center for Demography and Ecology; Sweet, James A., University of Wisconsin-Madison. Center for Demography and Ecology


This collection 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. One adult, the primary respondent, was chosen from each of 13,017 households in the study. In addition to the main interview conducted with the primary respondent, a shorter, self-administered questionnaire was given to the spouse or cohabitating partner. Data were gathered on the composition of families 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.

Series: National Survey of Families and Households Series

Access Notes

  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.


DS1:  Main Data File - Download All Files (115.851 MB)
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DS2:  SAS Data Definition Statements - Download All Files (2.453 MB)

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Study Description


Bumpass, Larry L., and James A. Sweet. National Survey of Families and Households, 1987-1988. ICPSR06041-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2009-03-16.

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

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This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. Center for Population Research (HD-21009)

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

Time Period:   

  • 1987-03--1988-05

Date of Collection:   

  • 1987-03--1988-05

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

Data Type(s):    survey data

Data Collection Notes:

(1) Two percent of the interviews were conducted in Spanish. (2) A second wave of this study was conducted in 1992-1994 and is available as NATIONAL SURVEY OF FAMILIES AND HOUSEHOLDS: WAVE I, 1987-1988, and WAVE II, 1992-1994 (ICPSR 6906). (3) Users of the NSFH data should consult the NSFH Web site 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:   1994-05-20

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