National Survey of Families and Households Series

Investigator(s): Bumpass, Larry L., and James A. Sweet

The National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) series was designed and carried out at the Center for Demography and Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under the direction of Larry Bumpass and James Sweet with the aim of providing improved understanding of both the structure and functioning of American families in order to overcome the limitations of previously available data on family structure, family process, and family relationships. The fieldwork was done by the Institute for Survey Research at Temple University, and William Aquilino of the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, provided technical support and assisted in the development of the questionnaires, management of the field operations, and coordination of the data preparation. The series was developed with funds by a grant from the Center for Population Research of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The series is a national longitudinal survey that permits research on a wide variety of aspects of American family life and experience as both determinants and consequences of other family and life course events. A considerable amount of life-history information was collected, including childhood living arrangements, family composition, and relationships, as well as education, fertility, and employment histories. Individuals, rather than families or households, form the units of observation. The design is cross-sectional, with several retrospective sequences, permitting the detailed description of past and current living arrangements and other characteristics and experiences, as well as the analysis of the consequences of earlier patterns on current states, marital and parenting relationships, kin contact, and economic and psychological well-being. Users of the NSFH data should check for periodic updates of the collection by consulting files maintained by the principal investigators at the University of Wisconsin. These files may be accessed via anonymous FTP at: (cd /pub/nsfh).

National Survey of Families and Households, Wave 1: 1987-1988 (ICPSR 6041) Wave 1 (1987-1988) is the first of three waves in a longitudinal survey that was designed to study the causes and consequences of changes happening in families and households within the United States. In addition to the main interview conducted with the primary respondent, a shorter, self-administered questionnaire was given to the spouse or cohabitating partner, and also administered to the householder if he or she was a relative of the primary respondent. (more)

National Survey of Families and Households, Wave II: 1992-1994 (ICPSR 6906) 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. (more)

National Survey of Families and Households, Wave III: 2001-2002 (ICPSR 171) NSFH Wave III, is the third follow up and was conducted in 2001-2002. The sample included all NSFH Wave I main respondents and spouse/partner with focal child eligible for the NSFH Wave II interviews, interviews with these focal children (now ages 18-34), and all other NSFH Wave I main respondents ages 45 and over in 2000, as well as their NSFH Wave I spouse/partner. (more)