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Relationship to household head

Codes and Frequencies

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RELATE describes an individual's relationship to the head of household. This variable is largely compatible with the IPUMS variable RELATE, though some changes have been made.

The relationship codes are divided into two categories-relatives (codes 1- 10) and non-relatives (codes 11-12). The codes for relatives are self- explanatory. The non-relative codes are divided into three groups: "Partner, friend, visitor", roughly described as persons who do not pay or work for their accommodations (unless they share ownership); "Other non-relatives", including those persons paying or working for accommodations; and "Institutional inmates".


The general code (two digits) is comparable across all countries. Detail codes in the third and fourth digits preserve detail not available in all countries. Differences between countries in the detail codes are discussed below.

The Canadian censuses of 1852, 1871, and 1881 did not enumerate relationship to the head of household. Future releases of NAPP censuses will include an imputed relationship to head of household variable for Canadian households. This variable will be equivalent to IMPREL for the 1850-1870 censuses in the IPUMS.

The RELATE variable for Denmark is very detailed. We added code 1218, Employees of guests, to preserve detail available in Denmark. See unharmonized variables DK1787A_0409 and DK1801A_0408 for the complete set of responses available in the source data.

Great Britain
The unharmonized source variables provide additional detail on relationships within visitors', boarders', lodgers', and servants' families. The unharmonized source variables also identify "second families" (codes 510 to 581) in households where a second family is present but the relationship between the head of the household and the head of the second family is unknown. Individuals identified as belonging to a second family are coded as unknown in RELATE.

The British data do not distinguish between fostered and adopted children. These groups are combined in a single category, code 305. In all other countries, adopted children receive the code 304, and foster children the code 306.

RELATE is comparable across all available Icelandic data. The 1910 dataset offers slightly more detail than is available in earlier years.

Warning: Users should note that household relationships and the markings of new households are independent fields on the Norwegian censuses. The first person in a Norwegian household does not necessarily have a code for household head (RELATE code 0101). Users who wish to construct household level statistics should select the first person in each household by using PERNUM and selecting the person with PERNUM = 1. Norway 1865 has a lot of missing relationships.

Households are defined as people eating together, and these household breaks are maintained in the data. However, not all people who are in position 1 in a household were recorded as household heads. In particular, people who ate separately but resided in the same structure are likely to have been recorded as living in separate households, while not being designated as a household head.

RELATE retains two codes specific to Norway, 0603 for retired people receiving special benefits from farms - a group known to be mostly parents, and 1208, for paupers living with others at the expense of the municipality.

The 1801 census contained the category "inderster", identifying individuals who are lodging in the household but who also maintain their own residence. We have coded these persons as "visitors". Many are related to the household head. In addition, the census does not distinguish between spouses of these visitors and spouses of lodgers, but most appear to be the spouse of visitors and are also included in this category. Children of visitors and lodgers are also included with visitors.

United States
RELATE is not available for 1850-1870, but IMPREL produces similar results. As a convenience, the extract system is set up so that users may include RELATE in extracts of the 1850-1870 samples. In those years, RELATE contains the information that is documented in the IMPREL variable description. Beginning in 1880, data on household relationship was asked of every person. The general relationship code is reasonably comparable across years. The detailed code makes distinctions that cannot be made in all years.

RELATE preserves all codes from IPUMS. The code for foster children has been moved from 1206 to 0306, and the code for concubines and mistresses has been moved from 1130 to 0203. Neither of these groups is particularly large as can be seen from the RELATE codes and frequencies.

Researchers should be aware that the LDS transcription of the United States census of 1880 did not preserve non-familial relationships between household members. Thus, information about specific categories of non-relatives is not consistently available in the complete-count 1880 census.

The general relationship codes (the first two digits of the code) are representative of the population, and may be used to generate accurate population statistics.

The detailed relationship codes (all four digits) are representative of the population for familial relationships.


  • Canada 1891: All persons
  • Canada 1901: All persons
  • Canada 1911: All persons
  • Denmark 1787: All persons
  • Denmark 1801: All persons
  • England and Wales 1851 (100%): All persons
  • Scotland 1851 (100%): All persons
  • Great Britain 1851 (2%): All persons
  • England and Wales 1861 (100%): All persons
  • Scotland 1861 (100%): All persons
  • Great Britain 1871: All persons
  • England and Wales 1881 (100%): All persons
  • Scotland 1881 (100%): All persons
  • England and Wales 1891 (100%): All persons
  • Scotland 1891 (100%): All persons
  • England and Wales 1901 (100%): All persons
  • Scotland 1901 (100%): All persons
  • Great Britain 1911: All persons
  • Iceland 1703: All persons
  • Iceland 1729: All persons
  • Iceland 1801: All persons
  • Iceland 1901: All persons
  • Iceland 1910: All persons
  • Norway 1801: All persons
  • Norway 1865: All persons
  • Norway 1875: All persons
  • Norway 1900: All persons
  • Norway 1910: All persons
  • Sweden 1880: All persons
  • Sweden 1890: All persons
  • Sweden 1900: All persons
  • Sweden 1910: All persons
  • United States 1850 (100%): All persons
  • United States 1850 (1%): All persons
  • United States 1860: All persons
  • United States 1870: All persons
  • United States 1880 (100%): All persons
  • United States 1880 (10%): All persons
  • United States 1900: All persons
  • United States 1910: All persons


  • Canada: 1891, 1901, 1911
  • Denmark: 1787, 1801
  • Great Britain: 1851a, 1851b, 1851c, 1861a, 1861b, 1871, 1881a, 1881b, 1891a, 1891b, 1901a, 1901b, 1911
  • Iceland: 1703, 1729, 1801, 1901, 1910
  • Norway: 1801, 1865, 1875, 1900, 1910
  • Sweden: 1880, 1890, 1900, 1910
  • United States: 1850a, 1850b, 1860, 1870, 1880a, 1880b, 1900, 1910