Child Development and the Social Demography of Childhood

by Donald J. Hernandez
Child Development and the Social Demography of Childhood
Donald J. Hernandez
Child Development
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Child Development, February 1997, Volume 68, Number 1, Pages 149-169

Child Development and the Social Demography of Childhood

Donald J. Hernandez

This article provides background information and a practical guide for including demographic information in developmental research. First, it portrays historic demographic trends reflecting critical ways in which the family and economic environments of children have been, and continue to be, transformed in the United States. Second, it presents current demographic statistics to provide a basis for researchers to compare their special study populations to the general population of children and to formulate specific hypotheses about ways in which their results might differ for children in various demographic situations. Third, it offers an Appendix with standardized wording for a minimum set of questions needed to measure the demographic characteristics and environments of children. The Appendix provides researchers the technical capacity to collect such data, so they can develop and test hypotheses about how family and economic environments shape child development processes and outcomes.


The main goal of this article is to provide background information and a practical guide for including de- mographic information in developmental research. The article has three subgoals. First, it portrays his- toric demographic trends to provide an understand- ing of critical ways in which the family and economic environments of children have been, and continue to be, transformed in the United States. Second, it pre- sents current demographic statistics to provide a ba- sis for researchers to compare their special study populations to the general population of children and to formulate specific hypotheses about ways in which their results might differ for children in various de- mographic situations. Third, it offers an Appendix with standardized wording for a minimum set of questions needed to measure the demographic char- acteristics and environments of children. The Appen- dix provides readers the technical capacity to collect such data, so they can develop and test hypotheses about how family and economic environments shape child development processes and outcomes. The im- plementation of a common minimum set of demo- graphic questions in developmental research also can advance knowledge and understanding by providing a sound basis for comparing results and interpreta- tions across studies.

The Industrial Revolution brought massive trans- formations, beginning 150 years ago, to the lives of children and families in the United States, and addi- tional thoroughgoing changes have occurred since World War I1 (Hernandez, 1993a).' Many researchers

1. This historical discussion draws on Hernandez (1993a), where many of the statistics presented here were first derived, and where the forces responsible for these changes are analyzed and discussed in detail. Many of the historical results in Hernan

during the past 25 years have studied the nature and consequences for child outcomes of the shifting trends in marriage, divorce, childbearing, living ar- rangements, migration, education, work, income, and poverty (e.g., Bornstein, 1995; Brooks-Gunn & Duncan, in press; Cherlin et al., 1991; Elder, 1974; El- der, Conger, Foster, & Ardelt, 1992; Elder, Modell, & Parke, 1993; Haveman & Wolfe, 1994; Hernandez, 1986, 1993b, 1995; Huston, McLoyd, & Garcia-Coll, 1994; Lerner, 1993; Phillips & Crowell, 1994; Phil- lips & Howes, 1987; Qvortrup, Bardy, Sgritta, & Wintersberger, 1994).

Past research and plausible arguments suggest that the following specific demographic factors are likely to be associated with and may constitute risk factors for a host of child outcomes and child and family problems: (1)parents' ages at child's birth and parent-child age differences throughout childhood;

(2) race, ethnicity, and family immigration experi- ence; (3) residential mobility; (4) parents' marital situ- ation and children's living arrangements with par- ents, other family members, and nonrelatives; (5) parents' educational attainments; (6) parents' labor force participation; and (7) family poverty and in- come inequality.

With general acknowledgment that these factors are important for child development, it is critical that the demographic facts be known and that future re- search on child development measure these variables

dez (1993a) are the first using national census and survey data to describe, with children as the explicit unit of analysis, these demographic changes during the past 50 years. The research an- alyzed microdata files for the 1940, 1950, 1960, 1970, and 1980 censuses, and for the 1980 and 1989 Current Population Survey.

O 1997 by the Society for Research in Child Development, Inc. All rights reserved. 0009-3920/97/6801-0014$01.00

in a standardized fashion. This article seeks to accom- plish these twin goals by presenting historical trends, current data, and a recommended approach to mea- surement.



In historical perspective, the family environments of children and hence the lives of children have been completely transformed during the past 50-150 years by enormous changes in the economy, society, and life course of parents. Six demographic transforma- tions have had profound implications for child devel- opment. The first three-the shift to nonfarm work by fathers, a drastic constriction in family size, and enormous increases in educational attainments- were prominent during the century preceding World War 11. The second three-the increase in labor force participation by mothers, the rise of single-parent families, and a large decline and then subsequent substantial rise in childhood poverty-occurred during the half-century that followed. Changes spanning 50 years or 100 years may be viewed as occurring slowly, but it is important to remember that the aver- age life expectancy today is about 75 years. Hence, changes spanning 100 years have occurred in little more than one human lifetime by today's standards, and changes spanning 50 years have occurred in only two-thirds of a single human lifetime.

A Century of Change: Fathers' Work, Family Size, and Schooling

It seems likely that the way children spend their time, and with whom, can deeply affect develop- mental outcomes in a wide range of psychological domains. If so, then changes in children's lives re- sulting from historical demographic transformations in fathers' work, family size, and schooling may have contributed to major changes in these characteristics.

Moving ofthe farm. For hundreds of years, agricul- ture and the two-parent farm family represented not only the primary forms of economic production and family organization in Western countries but also the social and physical context of child development. In two-parent farm families, family members worked side by side to sustain themselves in small communi- ties, families included large numbers of children, and the day-to-day educational content and process expe- rienced by children were determined by the organi- zation of time and activities required by preindustrial farming.

In 1830, nearly 70% of children lived in two-parent farm families, but by 1930 the proportion had dropped to less than 30% (Figure 1). During the same 100 years, children living in nonfarm families with a breadwinner father working in a nonfarm job and a homemaker mother expanded from only 15% to a majority of 55%.

Smaller family size. As families moved away from farming, family size constricted drastically. Among adolescents born in 1865, 82% lived in families with five or more children; but among adolescents born in 1930, 57% lived in families with only one, two, or three children. Hence, within 65 years-less than a single human lifetime-the median number of sib- lings plummeted by two-thirds, from 7.3 to 2.6 chil- dren in the family of the typical adolescent.

Increased schooling. Meanwhile, school enrollments increased sharply. In 1870,50% of children age 5-19 were enrolled in school, and they were enrolled for an average of 16 school weeks per year. Only 70 years later in 1940, school enrollment rates were 95% for children age 7-13 and 79% for children age 14-17, and they averaged 30 weeks in school per year. More recently, the proportions enrolled in school had in- creased for ages 7-13 to 99% by 1949, for ages 14-15 to 98% by 1959, and for ages 16-17 to 90% by 1968 and 94% in 1992.

Because the children of today are the parents of tomorrow, this enormous increase in schooling led, in due course, to large increases in parents' educa- tion. For example, comparing adolescents born in the 1920s to those born only 2 decades later, the propor- tions with fathers completing at least 8 years of schooling or at least 4 years of high school jumped from 56% to 77% and from 15% to 39%, respectively. Similarly, the proportions of adolescents with moth- ers completing at least 8 years of schooling or at least 4 years of high school increased from 61% to 83% and from 17% to 44%, respectively.

Children's new lives. It is difficult to imagine that these demographic transformations did not have pro- found consequences for developmental processes and outcomes for children. In the mid-nineteenth century most children lived in rural areas, engaged in the daily routines of farm life, spending much of their time with their fathers and mothers and a large number of siblings, most of whom had little school- ing. By the mid-twentieth century, most children lived in urban areas, often in cities with populations of 10,000 or more. Furthermore, they spent much of their time in school or at home with their compara- tively well-educated mother and only 1-2 additional siblings, but with a father who, although also com-

Donald J. Hernandez 151


Dual-Emer Nonfarm

Father Breadwinner
Mother Homemaker



4- 56-


e 50

d 4540-




1 ,111111,1 1 1 1 1 1

1790 1810 1830 1850 1870 1890 1910 1930 l& 1d70 1&9 1800 1820 1840 1860 1880 1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 Note: Estimates for 10year intervalsto 1980, and for 1989.

Figure 1 Children age 0-17 years in farm families, father-as-breadwinner families, and dual-earner families: 1790-1989. Source: Hernandez, 1993a, p. 103, copyright by Russell Sage Foundation. Reprinted by permission.

paratively well educated, was not available for much of the day because he was away at work.

A Half-Century of Change: Mothers' Work, Mother-Only Families, and Poverty

Children's lives continued to change dramatically during the past 50 years with regard to where and with whom they spent their time and the economic resources available in their families. Increases in mothers' labor force participation have removed many mothers from the home for much of the day, leaving children in the care of persons other than their parents. Enormous increases in one-parent fam- ilies maintained by mothers have removed fathers from the homes of many children. Sharp poverty de- clines followed by substantial poverty increases have dramatically changed the economic resources avail- able in many families to provide for the care, nurtur- ing, and development of children.

Labor force participation by mothers. Children experi- enced an explosion in labor force participation by their mothers after 1940. Only 10% of children in 1940 lived with a mother who was in the labor force, but this increased by six percentage points during the 1940s and then by at least 10 percentage points dur- ing each of the next 4 decades. By 1990, nearly 60% of children had an employed mother, a sixfold in- crease in only 50 years. Just as children during the prior 100 years had experienced a massive movement by fathers out of the family home to work in the ur- ban-industrial economy, children since the Great De- pression have experienced a massive movement by mothers into the paid labor force. Hence, for most children today, no parent is home for most of the day; children spend most of their time in the care of non- family members. This change could have implica- tions for the development of relationships with par- ents, peers, and other adults as well as for social behavior more generally.

The revolution in fathers' work was accompanied by increased schooling, which brought enormous changes in the day-to-day lives of children age 6 and older. The revolution in mothers' labor force partici- pation is associated with another large increase in nonparental care for children, especially for those under age 6, but it is occurring twice as rapidly. The decline of children in two-parent farm families from 60% to 10% required 100 years from 1860 to 1960. But the corresponding rise in the proportion of children with employed mothers from 10% to 60% required only 50 years, from 1940 to 1990.

The rise in mother-only families. Twenty years after the beginning of the sharp increase in mothers' em- ployment, another marked change in family life be- gan-an unprecedented increase in mother-only families where the father was not present in the home. Between 1940 and 1960, about 6%-8% of chil- dren lived only with their mother. This tripled during the next 30 years, and by 1990 20% of children lived in mother-only families. Because about two-thirds live with divorced or separated mothers and about one-third live with never-married mothers, the rise of mother-only families occurred primarily because of the historical and recent increases in divorce and secondarily because of the recent rise in out-of-wed- lock childbearing.

Family income and poverty. Trends in family income and poverty, and hence in the economic resources available to children in their families, have changed enormously during the past half century. During the 26 years from 1947 to 1973, median family income (in real, inflation-adjusted, dollars) more than doubled. But 20 years later in 1993, median family income was at exactly the same level as in 1973, despite the enor- mous growth in mothers' labor force participation. Because real income and living standards rose dra- matically between 1940 and 1973, social perceptions about what income levels were considered "normal" and "adequate" changed substantially. That such judgments are relative has been noted from at least the time that Adam Smith (1776) wrote Wealth of Na- tions. More recently, Galbraith (1958, pp. 323-324) pointed out that "people are poverty-stricken when their income, even if adequate for survival, falls markedly behind that of the community. Then they cannot have what the larger community regards as the minimum necessary for decency; and they cannot wholly escape, therefore, the judgment of the larger community that they are indecent. They are degraded, for, in a literal sense, they live outside the grades or categories which the community regards as respectable."

Based on these insights, additional literature (Ex- pert Committee on Family Budget Revisions, 1980; Fuchs, 1965), and a comprehensive review of existing

U.S. studies and original research by Rainwater (1974), Hernandez (1993a) developed a measure to classify family income levels in terms of "relative poverty," "near-poor frugality," "middle-class com- fort," or "luxury," based on income thresholds set at less than 5O0/0, 50% to less than 75% 75% to less than 150%, and at least 150% of median family income in specific years and adjusted for family size (see Figure 2). This measure shows that after the Great Depres- sion children experienced a sharp drop in relative poverty from 38% in 1939 to 27% in 1949, followed by an additional total decline of four percentage points during the 1950s and 1960s. Beginning in the 1970s, but especially since 1979, the relative poverty rate has increased, however, reaching the comparatively high level of 27% by 1988, a level experienced by children

1w la,







RelsMre Poverty


Figure 2 Children age 0-17 years by relative income levels: 1939-1988. Source: Hernandez, 1993a, copyright by Russell Sage Foundation. Reprinted by permission.

in 1949 almost 40 years earlier. According to the widely used official poverty measure, childhood poverty fell sharply during the 1960s but then in- creased beginning in the early 1970s, especially after 1979, reaching 23% in 1993 (U.S. Bureau of the Cen- sus, 1995; for critical evaluations of the official mea- sure, see Citro &Michael, 1995; Expert Committee on Family Budget Revisions, 1980; and Ruggles, 1990).

At the opposite extreme, children with luxury level incomes declined from 23% in 1939 to 19% in 1949, and 15% in 1959 and 1969, but then increased to about 19% in 1979 and 22% in 1988. Falling be- tween those who lived in relative poverty or luxury, children living in middle-class comfort or near-poor frugality increased from 39% in 1939 to 62% in 1969, but this status declined to 58% in 1979 and further to 51% in 1988.

What accounts for these trends in relative poverty and income inequality? Further analyses indicate that change in available fathers' incomes can account for much of the post- Depression decline and subsequent increase in relative childhood poverty, and that changes in mothers' incomes acted to speed the ear- lier decline in relative poverty and then to slow the subsequent increase (Hernandez, 1993a).

Additional income from relatives other than par- ents in the home had little effect on poverty trends after 1949, and the effect of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and Social Security pro- grams on these trends is no more than two to three percentage points, although the combined effect on official poverty in 1993 was 7.5 percentage points for AFDC, public assistance, Food Stamps, Child Nutri- tion, Supplemental Food Programs for Women, In- fants, and Children (WIC), Public Housing and subsi- dized rent payments, Foster Care, Head Start, and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1995).

Finally, the rise of mother-only families and lack of access to father's income in many families have also contributed to the recent poverty increase, but the prime factor in determining both levels and trends in childhood poverty has been changes in fa- thers' and mothers' employment and income earned from their work (Hernandez, 1993a). For example, es- timates for children based on demographic decompo- sition procedures indicate that about one-third of the increase in official child poverty during the 1980s can be accounted for by the rise in mother-only families, and about two-thirds of the increase is unrelated to the rise in mother-only families and is directly ac- counted for by declining income (Hernandez, in press; Eggebeen & Lichter, 1991).

Demographic Transformations and Developmental Outcomes

In overview, children's lives in the United States changed drastically during the past 150 years, espe- cially during the past few decades, because of demo- graphic transformations in (1)the shift to nonfarm work by fathers, (2) the drastic constriction in family size, (3) enormous increases in educational attain- ments, (4) the rise in labor force participation by mothers, (5) the increase in single-parent families, and (6) the large decline and then subsequent sub- stantial rise in childhood poverty. As of the 1990s, then, because the life course experiences of parents have become extremely complicated and diverse, many individual children are experiencing enormous changes in the developmental environments to which they are exposed from birth to adulthood, and, com- paring various children at a specific point in time, different children are experiencing an extremely di- verse array of developmental environments.

Educational outcomes of children represent only one of many examples that might be offered to illus- trate that an understanding of trends in develop- mental outcomes is not possible unless research in- cludes demographic data in complex causal models. In their classic research on the educational attainment

Donald J. Hernandez 153

process, Featherman and Hauser (1978) found that the educational attainments of children were influ- enced independently by six demographic factors: fa- thers' education, fathers' occupational status, num- ber of siblings, farm origin, family intactness during childhood, and race. But they also found that the magnitude of these effects, except for number of sib- lings, diminished in importance for cohorts born be- tween 1907-1911 and 1947-1951. Extending and re- fining this model, Blake (1985) found that decline in the effect of father's education among white men who grew up in intact, two-parent families did not occur across the board but mainly for children who had very few or a moderate number of siblings. In another extension of this model, but using longitudi- nal panel data, Hill and Duncan (1987) found the ed- ucational attainments of children also were influ- enced by income of fathers, and by education, number of hours worked, and income of mothers.

These examples show that it is not possible to un- derstand trends or differentials in educational achievement and attainment without analyzing the role of major demographic variables such as number of siblings; fathers' and mothers' education, employ- ment, and income; family living arrangements; race and ethnicity; and so forth. Because this is the case for children's educational outcomes, it is probably also true for a wide range of psychological domains.



We now turn to the most current available data, that for 1995 (Table I), to portray the demographic diver- sity of children's lives today. These data suggest plausible reasons to think that the demographic cir- cumstances of children may influence developmental processes and outcomes for children. These data are also valuable in themselves and for comparing Sam- ple representativeness in studies not explicitly de- signed to be nationally representative.

Ages of Children and Their Parents

The importance of age distinctions among chil- dren in studies of child development is self-evident. Also important are the ages of a child's parents. Chil- dren are born to parents who may be as young as teenagers or 40 years of age or older. Because teenag- ers and young adults differ substantially from mid- dle-aged adults in their life course experiences, fi- nancial resources, physical energy, and other factors, children of young parents may differ substantially from children with older parents in the nature of the

Table 1 Demographic Circumstances of Children under 18 Years, by Age: 1995 (Numbers in Thousands)

  Children 0-5 Years 6-11 Years 12-17 Years
Percent by:        
Father's age (if living with father)        
15-19 years        
20-29 years        
30-39 years        
40-49 years        
50+ years        
Mother's age (if living with mother)        
15-19 years        
20-29 years        
30-39 years        
40-49 years        
50+ years        
Race and Hispanic origin        
Not Hispanic        
Not Hispanic        
Hispanic (may be of any race)        
Other (not including white, black, or Hispanic)        
Immigration experience        
Child immigrant        
Child not an immigrant        
Parent@) in home not immigrant(s)        
Parent(s) in home immigrant(s)        
Father only        
Mother only        
Residential mobility (lived in different house last        
year, data collected 1994)        
Child moved        
Child did not move        
Parent moved        
Parental presence and marital status        
Two-parent family        
Father-only family        
Never married        
Separated or married, spouse absent        
Mother-only family        
Never married        
Separated or married, spouse absent        
No parent in the home        
Siblings under age 25 in home        
Only child        
One sibling        
Two siblings        
Three siblings        
Four or more siblings        
Percent with relative@) or nonrelative(s) in the        
home other than parents and siblings        
under age 25:        
All children        
Children in two-parent families        
Children in father-only families        
Children in mother-only families        
  Total   Age
  Children 0-5 Years 6-11 Years 12-17 Years
Percent with grandparent(s) in the home:        
All children        
Children in two-parent families        
Children in father-only families        
Children in mother-only families        
No parent in home        
Percent with nonrelative(s) in the home        
All children        
Children in two-parent families        
Children in father-only families        
Children in mother-only families        
No parent in home        
Father's educational attainment (if living with        
0-8 years        
9-11 years        
High school graduate        
Some college        
College graduate        
Postcollege degree        
Mother's educational attainment (if living with        
0-8 years        
9-11 years        
High school graduate        
some college        
College graduate        
Postcollege degree        
Parents' labor force participationa        
Two-parent family        
Father full-time, mother full-time        
Father full-time, mother part-time        
Father full-time, mother not employed        
Father part-time, mother full-time        
Father part-time, mother part-time        
Father part-time, mother not employed        
Father not employed, mother full-time        
Father not employed, mother part-time        
Father not employed, mother not employed        
Father-only family        
Father full-time        
Father part-time        
Father not employed        
Mother-only family        
Mother full-time        
Mother part-time        
Mother not employed        
No parent in home        
Official poverty rate (1994 income)        
Relative income (1994 income)        
Relative poverty        
Near-poor frugality        
Middle-class comfort        

Source: Estimated by author from March 1995 Current Population Survey (CPS) public use microdata files, except
for residential mobility, which is estimated from March 1994 CPS.
Tull-time = currently working, worked 35 or more hours last week, and 48 or more weeks last year. Part-time
= currently in the labor force, worked at least 1 hour last week, or at least 1week last year. Not employed =
not part-time and not full-time.

care and developmental experiences provided by their parents.

Among preschool children under age 6 having a father or mother in the home in 1995, about one-half had a father (56%) or mother (48%) who was age 30- 39, but 27% had a father and 45% had a mother under age 30. At the other extreme, among children under 6 years, 17% had a father and 7% had a mother age 40 or more. Adolescents have parents who are, on average, 10-15 years older than for preschoolers, but the diversity in their parents' ages is equally striking.

Race and Ethnic Origin

Children in different racial and ethnic groups or with different immigration histories may live in fam- ily and neighborhood environments that differ sharply in (1)social organization; (2) economic op- portunities and resources; or (3) behaviors, beliefs, and norms, including those pertaining to parent- child interaction, child-child interaction, nutrition, and child care and development with regard to play, reading, or learning new skills.

At least since 1970, the child population has been shifting toward minority group membership. Be- tween 1900 and 1970, whites accounted for 85%-89% of children. After 1970, this proportion declined, and it is projected to continue declining through at least 2050 (Day, 1993). The 1980 Decennial Census of the Population was the first in which it was possible to distinguish the majority white non-Hispanic popula- tion from nonwhite races and from Hispanics.

In 1980,74% of children were white non-Hispanic, but by 1995 this proportion had fallen to 69%, and projections suggest further declines to 50% in 2030 and 42% in 2050 (Figure 3) (Day, 1993). Minority chil- dren are mainly either African-American or Hispanic. In 1980, 15% of all children were African- American non-Hispanic, 9% were Hispanic, 3% were Asian and Pacific Islander, and 1% were American Indian, Eskimo, and Aleut. The proportion of His- panic had climbed to 12% in 1980, whereas the pro- portions remained about constant for African-Ameri- can non-Hispanic, for Asian and Pacific Islander, and for American Indian, Eskimo, and Aleut. By 2050 these figures are projected to increase to 20% for non- Hispanic African-Americans, 28% for Hispanics, and 11% for other non-white, non-Hispanic groups, in- cluding 10% Asian and Pacific Islander, and 1% American Indian, Eskimo, and Aleut.

Immigration Experience

Foreign countries have always contributed sub- stantially to the U.S. population. In 1995,15% of chil-

dren in the United States were immigrants or lived with at least one immigrant parent. Because an addi- tional 3% of children were nonimmigrants with non- immigrant parents but lived with a mother who her- self had at least one foreign-born parent, about one of every five U.S. children were themselves immi- grants or had at least one parent or grandparent who was not born a U.S. citizen.

Furthermore, a total of 38% of children in 1994 be- longed to a racial or ethnic minority or were them- selves immigrants or children of immigrants. Hence, only 62% of children were white non-Hispanics who were born U.S. citizens and whose parents were both born U.S. citizens.

Residential Mobility

Residential moves less drastic than crossing na- tional borders also can have important consequences for children. Moving to a new home usually involves a large disruption of a child's nonfamilial social envi- ronment. The former playmates and friends, class- mates and teachers, school and nonparental child care settings all are left behind, and the child must negotiate unfamiliar social and physical environ- ments and develop a new set of nonfamilial interper- sonal social relationships. Meanwhile, the parents' social environment also is disrupted, including net- works of friends and neighbors that may have pooled resources and provided exchange networks that sup- ported and enhanced their parenting activities. It seems quite possible that changes in parent's lives as- sociated with residential migration also have at least temporary effects on their parenting behavior. Addi- tional children who do not move during the year ex- perience, instead, the potential disruptions associ- ated with having a father or mother who moves into or leaves the child's home. Some children also experi- ence a joint custody arrangement in which their main residence does not change, but they shift back and forth rather frequently between the homes of their father and mother.

About one in six children in 1994 (17%) had moved to a new home within the past year, and one in five children (19%) had either moved or were living with a parent who had moved into the home during the past year. Additional children have a parent leave the home during the year or shift between parental homes in a joint custody arrangement. The propor- tions moving within the past year or having a parent who moved in during the past year were substantial for children of all ages, for example, 25% for ages 0- 5,18% for ages 6-11, and 14% for ages 12-17 in 1994. Many children within any particular year experience

Donald J. Hernandez 157

White, not Hispanic Black not Hispanic 0Hispanic

Figure 3 Percent of children who are White not Hispanic, Black not Hispanic, and Hispanic: 1980-2050. Sources: Day, 1993; U.S.

Bureau of the Census, 1992.

the virtually complete disruption of their nonfamilial social environments, or a parent who entered or left the home, or a joint custody arrangement, or some combination of these changes.

Family Members and Nonrelatives Living with Children

The persons with whom a child lives shape the day-to-day interactions the child experiences in the home, and they make decisions influencing the child's experiences outside the home. Further, it seems likely that the nature of interactions between the child and other household members will differ depending on whether the other person is the child's biological or step-parent, grandparent, full, half, or step-sibling, or other relative, or the unmarried live- in partner of the child's never-married or divorced parent, and so forth.

It also seems likely that such interactions will vary depending on the specific composition of the family household, including the number and types of par- ents in the home, the number and types of siblings, and the number and relationships of other persons in the home. For example, one-parent families have a smaller number of adults available to provide for the needs of children than do two-parent families; the number of siblings in the home will influence the amount of competition for parental resources; the presence of grandparents may afford greater adult resources to children; and the presence of adults who are not relatives, such as the unmarried partner of a lone parent, may lead to a very different dynamic of parent-child interaction than in either one-parent or two-parent families without such a nonrelative pres- ent. Similarly, within two-parent families, children who are living with both biological parents may ex- perience a developmental environment that is quite different from that of children living with a biological parent and a step-parent.

Of all children under age 18 in 1995, only 69% lived with two parents, and based on estimates from 1990 about one-fifth of these children did not live with both biological parents. This suggests that, as of 1995, little more than one-half (56%) of children lived with both biological parents; about 14% lived with a biological parent and a step-parent or with adoptive parents; about 24% lived in a mother-only family; about 4% lived in a father-only family; and about 4% had no parent in the home.

Within these categories of living situations, there is additional diversity. For example, children living with a lone mother may experience a rather different environment depending on whether the mother has never been married, was married and then separated or divorced, or was widowed. These experiences may

shape the mother's child care beliefs and behaviors in Parents' Labor Force Participation

different ways, in part because they imply important differences in potential access to the father and to ex- tended family members and in part because they sug- gest that the children themselves have very different life course experiences. Among all children, substan- tial proportions in 1995 lived in mother-only families with a never-married mother (8%) or with a sepa- rated or divorced mother (14%).

Cutting across this diversity in parental living ar- rangements, children vary greatly in the number of siblings under age 25 in the home, who may act as both competitors for parental resources and as com- panions, thereby influencing a child's development. Among children in 1995, the proportions with O,1,2, and 3 or more siblings were 23% 39% 24%, and 15% respectively. Many children also have at least one rel- ative or nonrelative in the home other than the par- ents and siblings, as shown in Table 1.

Collectively, these data indicate great diversity in family living situations of children as reflected in the fact that only about one-half of children live in homes that include only their two biological parents and any full siblings, the family composition sometimes viewed as traditional. The other one-half of children live in other kinds of situations, each with potentially important implications for child development. It should be emphasized that all of these estimates per- tain to children at a single point in time. Through time, as children grow older, many experience transi- tions from one situation to another, as parents marry or divorce, as grandparents move in or out, and so forth. For example, it is likely that more than one- half of today's children will spend part of their child- hood in a one-parent family, and many of these chil- dren will experience a step-parent situation.

Parents' Educational Attainments

Educational attainments increased enormously during the past 150 years, but children continue to experience large differences in their parents' educa- tional levels. At the extremes, among children living with their mothers in 1995 17% had mothers who had not graduated from high school, and 20% lived with mothers who had graduated from college. Another 35% had mothers who had graduated from high school but had not attended college, and 29% had mothers with some college after graduating from high school but without a four-year college degree. The distribution of children with regard to fathers' educational attainments is fairly similar to that of mothers.

The potential availability of parents to personally care for their children depends on whether the par- ents live in the home, as well as on the amount of time parents devote to paid work. Children with a parent in the home who is not in the labor force have that parent potentially available as a full-time care provider. At the other extreme, children with par- ent(~)in the home who are employed full-time must be in the care of someone other than the parents for much of the day or have parents who must juggle work schedules to provide personal care for the chil- dren but spend little time with each other.

Differences in parental work arrangements experi- enced by children may influence both the amount and nature of care that children receive from their parents, because parents in the home full-time may have rather different parenting strategies than par- ents who spend much less time with their children, and because the kind and quality of nonparental care available to parents for their children may vary sub- stantially depending on the amount and scheduling of parents' work.

Parental work situations are extremely diverse. Often viewed as "traditional" is the situation where the father works full-time year round and the mother is not working for pay during the year. In 1995, only 12% of children lived in such families; even among children under age 6, only 15% lived in such families. In fact, in each year since the Great Depression a ma- jority of children have not lived in families where the father worked full-time year round and the mother was not currently employed (Hernandez, 1993a). Al- though this situation was the mid-twentieth-century ideal of family life, only a minority of 43%-47% of children lived in such families between 1940 and 1960, and this number fell to only 12% in 1995. By comparison, in 1995 22% lived with a father who worked full-time year round and a mother who worked part-time or part of the year, and 16% lived with two parents who both worked full-time year round. Further, nearly one-half of children lived in either a two-parent or one-parent family with some other pattern of parental work.

Poverty and Income Inequality

Historically, both official and relative poverty among children and income inequality have in- creased since the early 1970s, especially since 1979. As of 1995, 22% of children were officially classified as poor, ranging from 25% for preschool children un

Donald J. Hernandez 159

der age 6 to 19% for adolescents age 12-17. Higher proportions lived below the relative poverty thresh- old set at 50% of median family income (with family size adjustments), which included 28% of all chil- dren, and ranged from 31% for preschoolers to 24% for adolescents. Many children also lived in families with luxury level incomes, that is, with incomes 150% or more above the median or more than three times higher than for children living in relative poverty. These included 26% of all children and ranged from 23% for preschoolers to 29% for adolescents. Slightly fewer than one-half of children in 1995 lived in near- poor frugality or middle-class comfort.

Many children experience either very low family incomes or very high family incomes, which can re- sult in vastly different home environments, educa- tional opportunities, access to health care, and the like.


This article shows that revolutionary demographic transformations have occurred, and continue to oc- cur, in the nature of childhood. Today, at any one point in time, children experience great diversity in their environments, and enormous and quite varied changes in their environments over their pre-adult lives. The demographic circumstances and life course experiences of children associated with their race and ethnicity, immigration status and residential mobil- ity, family and household composition, income and poverty, and parental age, educational attainments, and labor force participation may profoundly influ- ence the nature and content of adult-child interaction and child-child interaction as well as the nature of and resources available in the child's physical envi- ronment.

High-quality developmental measures must be conducted to understand how and why these demo- graphic environments influence developmental out- comes in children. As the lives of children continue to be transformed into the next century, developmental studies should include these demographic factors to broaden their generality and thus increase scientific knowledge about developmental processes and out- comes as actually experienced by the total population of children. The demographic information presented here and the practical guide to demographic data col- lection presented in the Appendix are offered to aid scholars who seek to increase scientific understand- ing about the nature of child development as it con- tinues to evolve during the coming decades.


For comments and suggestions on earlier drafts of this manuscript, I am indebted to M. Bornstein, S. Ceci, J. del Pinal, K. Hansen, R. Harrison, 0. M. Haynes, R. McCall, G. Miller, C. Nelson, K. Short, and

L. Steinberg. I am also indebted to A. J. Norton for institutional leadership, scholarly counsel, and per- sonal enthusiasm and encouragement which created an indispensable and nurturing home in the U.S. Bu- reau of the Census for writing the book which pro- vides the foundation for this article. Finally, thanks are due to E. Reeves and C. O'Brien for statistical sup- port and to K. Autrey for project assistance. I bear sole responsibility for the results and opinions pre- sented here.


Corresponding author: Donald J. Hernandez, Na- tional Research Council, HA-156, 2101 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20418; e-mail: DHER NAND@NAS.EDU.



The aim of this Appendix is to present question and word- ing formats and procedures for developing summary sta- tistics that can be adopted directly by developmental re- searchers. The first section of this Appendix provides standardized question wording for measuring the demo- graphic characteristics and environments of children de- scribed in the text of this article, building upon, expanding, and refining guidelines offered by Entwisle and Astone (1994). The second section of the Appendix shows how to summarize data obtained from these questions to produce standard statistics that can serve as the standard demo- graphics for sample description. The Appendix concludes with model "flashcards" to use with certain questions.

The "Standard Demographic Questions" portion of the Appendix is divided into sections for questions required to measure each of the following demographic variables:

household roster, (2) sex, (3) household relationship, (4)age, (5)marital status and spouse identification, (6) educational attainment, (7) presence and type of parents in home, (8) Hispanic origin and race, (9) immigrant status,
migration status, (11) employment status, and (12) in- come. Questions should be asked in this order. For ease of identification, these questions are separated into specific subsections set off by headings in capital letters and by spacing. These subsection dividers are provided here for the reader to easily distinguish different (sets of) questions but would not be included in the actual questionnaire. The

subsequent "Standard Demographic Description of Sam- ple" portion of the Appendix is divided into 12 corre- sponding sections which show how results from each (set of) questions can be used to create standard demographics for sample description.

Before presenting the questions, several notes are in or- der. First, the federal standard for measuring race and eth- nicity is currently under review by the U.S. Office of Man- agement and the Budget (OMB). The review is expected to be complete in 1997, when the OMB will announce a deci- sion which may, or may not, involve revisions to the ques- tions offered here.

Second, to implement the official poverty measure, pov- erty thresholds for a specific year by number and ages of family members in the household should be obtained from the U.S. Bureau of the Census, because they are updated annually for inflation using the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Using a family of four with two adults and two chil- dren as the standard, ratios of these composition-specific thresholds should be applied to the median family income (for all families) in a given year (also obtained from the

U.S. Bureau of the Census) to adjust the relative income thresholds for relative poverty, near-poor frugality, mid- dle-class comfort, and luxury income levels as defined in this article (see the section "Calculating Official Poverty and Relative Income Inequality" below, and Hernandez, 1993a).

The following questions are designed to be asked in per- son (not by telephone) in a household interview where the interviewer asks the questions of one adult (the household respondent) for every relevant household member. This section of the Appendix uses the following conventions. Italicized script identifies information or instructions for the questionnaire designer; this would not be printed on the actual questionnaire. Bold script identifies the questions the interviewer asks the household respondent and, hence, would be printed on the questionnaire. Normal script is used for other information that would be printed on the questionnaire, including instructions to the interviewer.

Questions are numbered here in order under the as- sumption that all questions will be used in the question- naire. The section "Standard Demographic Description of the Sample" describes how information from each specific question is used. In case a researcher cannot ask all the questions, this section provides information for setting pri- orities. Some questions involve the use of a flashcard which is handed to the respondent and which provides response categories from which the respondent chooses an answer. These are printed in the concluding "Flashcards."

Standard Demographic Questions


Question 1. What are the names of all persons living or staying here? Start with the name of the person, or one of the persons, who owns or rents this home.

List all names on household roster. Person 1 Person 2

Person 3 Person 4 Person 5 Person 6 Person 7 Person 8 Person 9 Person 10 Person 11 Person 12 Person 13 Person 14 Person 15 Person 16 Question 2. I need to be certain that I have listed everyone who usually lives at this address, so just to double check, let me ask: Have I missed any babies or small children? Have I missed anyone who usually lives here but is now away traveling, at school, or in a hospital? Have I missed any lodgers, boarders, or persons you employ who live here?

List additional names on household roster above.

Designer note: The remaining questions are asked of the house- hold respondent for each person in turn, unless otherwise indi- cated. A simple way to record this information is to have the interviewer list each household member across the top of a page, with the questions listed down the left side or on a separate page. Each person is designated by a particular number, his or her "person number" as listed in Question 1, for use in recording answers to certain questions. The entire set of questions below is asked for each person before going on to ask the entire set for the next person.


Designer note: Question 3 asks the household respondent about the sex of each household member. This question need not be asked if the interviewer can be sure of the person's sex without asking, but the information should befilled in at this point in the inter- view for each household member.

Question 3. Ask if necessary. Is (person's name) male or female?



Designer note: Question 4 is asked of the household respondent for each person, except for the 'yrst" person listed in Question

Question 4. Show flashcard A (Figure Al). What is (your1
person's name) relationship to (person I)?

Spouse (husband /wife)
Unmarried partner

Separate previous and next category by a blank line.


Donald J. Hernandez 161

Parent (mother /father)
Brother /sister
Other relative of person 1 (uncle, cousin, mother-in- law, father-in-law, and so forth)

Separate previous and next category by a blank line.

(8) Foster child

(9)Housemate/ roommate

(10)Roomer /boarder

(11) Other nonrelative of person 1


Question 5. What is (yourlperson's name) date of birth?
-List specific month by name
-List specific day of month (1-31)
-List specific year
Question 6. That would make (youlperson's name) how
old today?

-Age in years (list age as of interview)


Designer note: The purpose of Check Item 1 is to insure that Questions 7, 8, and 9 are asked only for persons old enough to be married, that is, for persons age 15 and over.

Check Item 1. Is (person's name) age 15 years or over?
0No-skip to Question 10
Question 7. (AreIIs) (you/personfs name) now married,
widowed, divorced, separated, or never married?

Never married

Designer note: The next two questions ascertain for each married person whether the spouse is in the home, and which person is the spouse.

Question 8. Ask if necessary. Does (yourlperson's name) (husbandlwife) live in this home?

0No-skip to Question 10
Question 9. Ask if necessary. Who is (yourlperson's name)

-List person number of spouse


Designer note: This question is asked ofthe household respondent for each person in the household.

Question 10. What is the highest level of school (youlper- son's name) (havethas) completed or the highest degree (you/personls name) (havethas) received?

No school completed
Nursery school
First grade
Second grade
Third grade
Fourth grade
Fifth grade
Sixth grade
Seventh grade
Eighth grade
Ninth grade
Tenth grade
Eleventh grade
Twelfth grade

(16)High school graduate-high school diploma or equiv- alent (for example: GED)

Some college but no degree
Diploma or certificate from a vocational, technical, trade, or business school beyond high school level

(19)Associate degree in college-occupational/vocational program

(20)Associate degree in college-academic program

(21)Bachelor's degree (for example, B.A., A.B., B.S.)

(22) Master's degree (for example, M.A., MS., M.Eng., M.Ed., M.S.W., M.B.A.)

(21)Professional school degree (for example, M.D., D.D.S., D.V.M., L.L.B., J.D.)

(23) Doctorate degree (for example, Ph.D., Ed.D.)


Designer note: Questions 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 are asked of the household respondent for each household member.

Question 11. Fill in for person 1, ask for all other persons.

Is (yourlperson's name) mother a member of this house- hold?

0Yes 0No-skip to Question 14 Question 12. Ask if necessary. Who is (yourlperson's name) mother?

-List person number of mother
Question 13. (AreIIs) (you/personls name) her biological,
step, adopted, or foster child?

(1)Biological or natural child

Stepchild (not legally adopted)
Stepchild and legally adopted child
Adopted child (not stepchild) Question 14. Fill in for person 1, ask for all other persons. Is (your/personls name) father a member of this household? 0 Yes 0No-skip to Question 17 Question 15. Ask if necessary. Who is (your/personfs name) father?

-List person number of father
Question 16. (AreIIs) (youlperson's name) his biological,
step, adopted, or foster child?

Biological or natural child
Stepchild (not legally adopted)
Stepchild and legally adopted child
Adopted child (not stepchild)


Question 17. (ArelIs) (youlperson's name) of Mexican ori- gin, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or some other Spanish origin?

No, not Spanish origin
Yes, Mexican, Mexican-American, or Chicano
Yes, Puerto Rican
Yes, Cuban
Yes, other Spanish origin Question 18. Show flashcard B (Figure A2). Do you con- sider (yourlperson's name) race to be White, Black or African-American, American Indian, or Asian or Pacific Islander?
Black /African-American
American Indian
Asian/ Pacific Islander-specify
Other race-specify


Question 19. Show flashcard C (FigureA3). In what country
(werelwas) (youlperson's name) born? (Show Flashcard D
if country is not known; Figure A4)
-(Enter code)

United States
Puerto Rico
Outlying area of the United States (American Samoa, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Marianas, other

U.S. territory)

Other country-(enter code) -
Question 20. In what country was (yourlperson's name)
mother born?
-(Enter code)
United States
Puerto Rico
Outlying area of the United States (American Samoa, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Marianas, other

U.S. territory)

Other country-(enter code) -
Question 21. In what country was (yourlperson's name)
father born?
-(Enter code)
United States
Puerto Rico
Outlying area of the United States (American Samoa, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Marianas, other

U.S. territory)

Other country-(enter code) Check Item B.
If answer to question 19 = 1,skip to Question 26
If answer to question 19 = 2 or 3, skip to Question 25 Question 22. (AreIIs) (youlperson's name) a citizen of the United States?
No-skip to Question 25 Question 23. (WereIWas) (youlperson's name) born of a citizen of the United States?

(1)Yes-skip to Question 25

(2) No Question 24. Did (youlperson's name) become a citizen of the United States through naturalization?

No Question 25. When did (youlperson's name) come to live in the United States?

-Year of entry (list specific year)


Question 26. Did (youlperson's name) live in a different house one year ago?



Designer note: Check Item C insures that persons are asked em- ployment and income questions only if they are age 15 or older.

Check Item C. Is person's age 15 years or older?

No-skip to next person in household for whom demo- graphic questions are to be asked, or if demographic questions have been asked of all persons in household skip to core questionnaire

Interviewer reads to respondent: Now I am going to ask
a few questions about work-related activities.
Question 27. Did (youlperson's name) work at any time
last week?

No-skip to Question 29
Question 28. How many hours did (youlperson's name)
work last week?
-(Enter number of hours)
Question 29. Last year in (19XX) did (youlperson's name)
work, even for a few days, at a paid job or in a business
or farm?
No-skip to Question 31
Question 30. How many weeks did (youlperson's name)
work in 19XX?
-(Enter number of weeks)


Interviewer reads to respondent: Now I am going to ask
a few questions about earnings and other sources of in-
come for last year, that is, for 19XX.
Question 31. Did (youlperson's name) receive income
from the following list of sources? Income from wages,
salaries, commissions, bonuses, or tips?


Self-employment income after expenses from proprietor- ships, partnerships, or self-employment farm income?


Income from interest, dividends, net rental income or roy- alty income, or income from estates and trusts?

(1) Yes

(2) No

Income from social security, or railroad retirement, or other retirement, survivor, or disability income, public and private, veterans' (VA) payments, or from IRA, KEOHG, or 401(k) withdrawals?


(2) No

Income from child support or alimony?

(1) Yes

Question 32. How much income did (youlperson's name)

receive in 19% from all jobs (and from these other

$ -(Enter amount)
Interviewer reads to respondent: Now I am going to ask
about specific sources of public support or public assis-
Question 33. Did (youlperson's name) receive money in
19XX from the following sources?
Unemployment compensation?


(2) No

Welfare, including Aid to Families with Dependent Chil- dren and Supplemental Security Income?


Question 34. How much did (youlperson's name) receive in 19% from (thislthese) sources?

$ -(Enter amount)
If question 35 has already been asked in this household,
skip to next person in household for whom demographic
questions are to be asked, or if demographic questions have
been asked of all persons in household skip to core ques-
Interviewer reads to respondent (once during the entire in-
terview to obtain household information): Now I am going
to ask about specific sources of support to the household.
Question 35. Did anyone in this household receive money
or services in 19XX from the following list of sources?
Food stamps?


WIC (or Women, Infants, and Children)?



Public housing, rent, or housing subsidies?


(2) No

MEDICAID, MEDICARE, or other military health care payments such as Champus, Champva, or VA?


Private health insurance (including employer-provided)?


(2) No

Skip to next person in household for whom demographic questions are to be asked, or if demographic questions have

Donald J. Hernandez 163

been asked of all persons in household skip to core ques- tionnaire.

Standard Demographic Description of Sample

Household Roster

The household roster questions identify each person liv- ing in the household. This information is needed for two purposes. (1)It is needed to ask subsequent demographic questions, because the name of each person is used in ask- ing subsequent questions about each person. After this information is obtained, the names of household members should be transcribed across the top columns of the inter- view instrument to provide the basis for asking the re- maining demographic questions which are printed down the left side of the interview instrument. (2) It is needed to obtain an accurate count of the number of persons living in the household. The count of household members, com- bined with information about their ages, their relationships to each other, and their incomes, is essential to ascertain the poverty status of each household member.

Question 1creates the household roster. Question 2 is needed because respondents often forget to include per- sons in certain categories. Question 2 may be dropped but at the peril of missing certain household members who are important to the household environment of the child.


Question 3 asks the sex of each household member. Note that the question need not be asked if the interviewer is certain of the person's sex without asking, but the infor- mation should be filled in at this point in the interview for each household member. Waiting until after the interview or until data processing to assign sex to each person will increase the probability of error. For example, the use of first names introduces error because not all first names are used exclusively for males or females.

Relationship to Reference Person

Question 4 asks how each household member is related to the "reference person." This information is needed for as many as five purposes. (1)It is needed to identify per- sons in the household who are relatives of the child, and who are not relatives of the child, to ascertain the poverty status of the child. For example, if a child is a relative of the reference person, than the child is a relative of all the reference person's relatives, but if the child is not a relative of the reference person, then the child is a relative only of persons identified as such through parent and spouse line number questions. (2) It is needed to characterize the child as in Table 1 regarding relatives and nonrelatives in the home. (3) It is needed to identify grandparents in a child's home, when the child has no parent in the home. Table 1 shows that nearly one-half of children without a parent in the home live with a grandparent. (4) It is needed to iden- tify all grandparents, if persons over age 18 are not asked about the presence of their parents in the home. If the "par- ent line" questions (11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16) are asked of all persons in the household, then the parents of parents can be identified as grandparents of children, but if this question is asked only of children under age 18, then the relationship to reference persons must be used to identify grandparents (grandparents who are not reference persons will be missed using this approach). (5) It is needed to iden- tify the "unmarried partner" of a child's parent.

Questions 5 and 6 ask the age of each household mem- ber. If only one question is asked, it should be Question 5 because this question provides data that are much more reliable than Question 6. Question 6 is asked as a follow- up to help insure the quality of data from Question 5 because age is a critically important variable. To calculate the age of persons from question 5, it is necessary for the inter- view to have recorded the date (month, day, and year) on which the interview occurred. Age categories can be com- bined as appropriate for descriptive or analytical purposes. For example, ages of fathers and mothers are combined in Table 1 to form five categories: 15-19,20-29,30-39,40-49, and 50+ years. Children's ages in Table 1are combined to form three categories, but further refinement may be use- ful, and national benchmark estimates by single year of age are available from the U.S. Bureau of the Census. For exam- ple, a researcher with an "adolescent sample" may have a sample that is similar to the United States in its distribution of children who are ages 12,13, 14,15, 16, and 17, or one that is quite different, for example, consisting only of ado- lescents ages 12 and 13. Such age information is essential to proper generalization of research findings.

Marital Status and Spouse Identification

Question 7 asks marital status for each household mem- ber age 15 years and over. This information is needed to ascertain the marital status of older adolescents and the marital status of a child's parent(s) present in the home. Response categories are sometimes combined to distin- guish currently married (married and separated) from not currently married (widowed, divorced, or never married), but for many analytical purposes it is better to draw a fur- ther distinction, as in Table l, which combined "separated" with "married, spouse absent," because this allows chil- dren to be characterized by the number of parents actually living in the home. Questions 11-16 allow this distinction to be drawn by ascertaining which, if any, parents are pres- ent in the child's home.

Questions 8 and 9 ascertain whether each household member over age 15 years has a spouse present in the home, and which person is the spouse. Note that if the question asked of one person has identified the person's spouse, then the spouse need not also be asked the ques- tion. Also note that the question need not be asked if an adult of the opposite sex is not present in the home as a potential spouse. This information is needed to ascertain which person in the household is the spouse of a married adolescent and whether a child's parents in the home are married to each other. If interview time is limited, ques- tions 8 and 9 may be dropped, because it is possible in most households to guess correctly which person (if present) in the household is the adolescent's spouse and because most (but not all) parental pairs identified in questions 11-16 will, if married, be married to each other, that is, not to spouses who live in other households.

Educational Attainment

Question 10 asks educational attainment of each house- hold member. This information is needed to measure a child's progress in school, and the "educational environ- ment" in the home provided by parents and other house- hold members. Various categories are often combined, as in Table 1,but for specific populations more detailed cate- gories are of great analytical value.

Presence and Type of Parents in the Home

Questions 11-16 directly ascertain whether the child has a father and a mother in the home, who the parent(s) is (are) and whether the parental relationships are biological, step (not adopted), step and legally adopted, or adopted but not a stepchild. If asked of all household members, these questions allow grandparents in the home to be iden- tified (the parent[s] of the child's parent[s]) in households where the child's parent(s) are present.

From the perspective of children, these questions pro- vide an enormous amount of information about current family situation and family history with regard to both the parents and grandparents. If the parent generation is not in the home, the presence of a grandparent usually can be identified with the household relationship question (except where the grandparent is not the reference person). These questions also allow siblings of a child to be identified as those persons who share at least one parent with the child.

Hispanic Origin and Race

Question 17 asks the Hispanic origin of each household member. Question 18 asks the race of each household mem- ber. National benchmarks are available from the U.S. Bu- reau of the Census.

Immigrant Status

Questions 19-21 ascertain place of birth of each house- hold member and place of birth for each household mem- ber's father and mother. The purpose of questions 19-21 is to ascertain whether each child is an immigrant, or second, third, or higher generation American on both father's and mother's side. Flashcard C is an aid to the respondent in selecting the appropriate country (Figure A3). If the re- spondent does not know the country, Flashcard D is an aid to the respondent in selecting the appropriate continent (Figure A4). Note that numerical coding categories are pro- vided. A third list of countries (Figure A5) is provided to

Donald J. Hernandez 165

Table 2 Poverty Thresholds in 1994 by Size of Family and Number of Related Children under 18 Years

Size of Family Unit Thresholds None One
One person (unrelated individual)      
Under 65 years      
65 years and over      
Two persons      
Householder under 65 years      
Householder 65 years and over      
Three persons      
Four persons      
Five persons      
Six persons      
Seven persons      
Eight persons      
Nine persons or more      

aid the researcher in translating numerical codes into coun- try names.

The purpose of Check Item B and questions 22-25 is to determine the citizenship of the child, parents, and others residing in the home. About 2% of persons not born in the United States were actually born U.S. citizens. Question 26 asks the year of immigration, information which is critical because implications vary enormously depending on whether immigration occurred, for example, at age 1, 15, 30, or 50.

Questions 19-21 are asked of each household member, but questions 22-25 are not. Because Questions 22-25 are asked only of immigrants as necessary, the additional re- sponse and interviewer burden is rather small and limited to immigrants or persons born in Puerto Rico or outlying areas, and because the immigration experience, history, and environment of children is extremely important to the development of those children, it is critical that the re- searcher know as much as possible about these circum- stances for children. With large increases projected in the immigrant and first or second generation population of children, these data will be essential to understanding changes in child development in the United States during the coming years and decades.

Migration Status

Question 26 asks whether each household member moved during the past year. The purpose of this question is to ascertain whether the child has moved and hence ex- perienced a major disruption in social environment, and whether the child has experienced such a disruption through movement of others into the home.

Employment Status

Check Item C insures that employment and income questions are asked only of persons age 15 years and older.

Related Children under 18 Years
Two Three Four Five Six Seven or more

Questions 27-30 ascertain the extent to which adolescents, parents, and other household members experience full- time, part-time, or no paid employment during the year. Questions 27 and 28 focus on employment last week. Full- time employment is defined as 35 or more hours per week; part-time employment is defined as 1-34 hours per week. Questions 29 and 30 focus on employment last year. Year- round employment is defined as 48 or more weeks last year; part-year employment is defined as 1-47 weeks last year. In Table 1,full-time is defined as 35 or more hours and 48 or more weeks employment, part-time is defined as 1-34 hours or 1-47 weeks, and no employment is defined as 0 hours and 0 weeks. For analytical purposes, finer cate- gories can be quite valuable.

Income Amounts and Sources

Question 31 asks for each household member age 15 years and over whether or not income was received during the past year from five sets of sources. The purpose is to obtain information about income receipt from specific sources, and to remind respondents of various types of in- come, thereby improving the accuracy of the respondent's estimate of total income for this person in the subsequent question. The census bureau found that the use of a global income question produces an estimate of total income about 15% lower than an estimate based on a detailed set of income questions. Research conducted by the Depart- ment of Housing and Urban Development suggests that a series of "yes-no" items for types of income, followed by a question asking the total amount received, yields income estimates higher than those obtained from a single global question.

Question 32 asks the total income for each household member from sources identified in Question 31. This infor- mation is essential to ascertaining poverty status, as indi- cated in the next section, and for ascertaining the absolute and relative economic contributions of various household members, and public welfare, to the economic standing of the family. It is important to measure income for each per- son separately, both to obtain accurate information and be- cause ielative contributions of fathers, mothers, children, and others in the home may have important implications for family processes and, hence, child development.

The distinction between public assistancLincome and other sources is essential for understanding the impact of relevant public policies on child development. Question 33 asks for each household member age 15 years and over whether or not income was received during the past year from two sets of public sources. Question 34 asks the amount received from these sources. Question 35 asks whether or not anyone in the household received support from five additional public or private sources which are essential for understanding family resources or processes and/or the role of public policy.

Calculating Oflcial Poverty and Relative lncome Inequality

The poverty status of a child is calculated by summing the two income amounts received, Questions 32 and 34, for the child and for all persons living in the household who are related to the child (as ascertained from questions 4, 8, 9, and 11-16). This income sum is then divided by the appropriate poverty threshold. For calendar year 1994, the poverty thresholds are indicated in Table 2. Because the value of these thresholds changes from year to year as a result of inflation, inflation-adjusted thresholds should be obtained from the U.S. Bureau of the Census for the specific year of interest. If the ratio of the income to the threshold has a value less than 1.0, the child lives in official poverty.

To ascertain the relative poverty status and relative income status of a child, the incomes are summed as is done for the official poverty measure, but a different set of pov- erty thresholds is calculated, using the official thresholds as the starting point. First, obtain the median family income for the specific year from the U.S. Bureau of the Census. For 1995, the value was $39,390. Divide the median by 2, and divide the result by the official threshold for the speci- fied year for a family unit with four persons, including two related children under 18 years. The result is multiplied by each of the thresholds for family units of various sizes and composition. These new thresholds are the relative poverty thresholds. Divide the income sums by the appropriate thresholds. A value of less than 1.0 indicates that the child lives in relative poverty. A value of at least 1.0 but less than

1.5 indicates that the child lives in near-poor frugality. A value of at least 1.5 but less than 3.0 indicates that the child lives in middle-class comfort. A value of at least 3.0 indi- cates that the child lives in a family with a luxury level income.

























Spouse (HusbandMlife)

Unmarried partner

Child Grandchild Parent (MotherIFather) BrotherISister Other relative (Aunt, Cousin, Nephew,

Mother-in-law, etc.)

Foster child HousematelRoommate RoomerlBoarder Other nonrelative

Esposo(a) Pareja no casada





Otro pariente (Tia, Primo, Sobrino,

Suegra, etc.)

Hijo(a) de crianza

Compahero(a) de residencia

Inquilino(a), Pupilo(a1

No es parientelfamilia de la persona

de referencia

Figure A1 Flashcard A

Continents/Regionsof the WoM


1 -White 2 -Black, African American 3 -American Indian 4 -AsianPacific Islander

Chinese Filipino Hawaiian Korean Vietnamese Japanese

Figure A4

Asian Indian

not known.

Samoan Guamanian Another Asian or Pacific Islander

Figure A2 Flashcard B

AlphabeticalList of Seleded Countries

200 Afghani

60 AmericanSma 375 Argentina 185 Armenia 501 Australia 102 Austria

130 Azores 333 Bahamas 202 Bangladesh 334 Batt~ados 103 Belgium 310 Belize 300 Bemuda 376 Bolivia 377 Brazil

205 &Irma

206 Cambodia

301 Canada 378 Chile 207 China 379 CobWa 311 Costa Rim 337 Cuba 155 Czech Repbrk 105 Czechoshvakia 106 Denmarlc

339 DominicanReplMic 338 Dominica 380 Ecuador 415 Egypt 312 El Salvador 139 England 417 Ethiopia 507 Fiii 108 Finland 109 Fram 110 Gem~ny 421 Ghana 138 Great Britain 116 Greece 340 Grenada

66 Guam 313 Guatemala 383 Guyana 342 Haifi 126 Holland 314 HwKlums 209 HongKong 117 Hungary 210 India 211 Indonesia 212 Iran 213 Iraq

119 IrelandEire 214 Israel 120 Italy 343 Jamaica 215 Japan 216 Jordan 427 Kenya 218 Korea/SouthKorea 221 Laos 183 Latvia 222 Lebanon 184 'thuania 224 Malaysia

315 Mexico 436 Morocco 126 Netheriands 514 Newzealand



Middle East




South America


Other Africa


Elsewhere(includes country notknown)

Flashcard D, for use after flashcard C if country is

316 Nicaragua 440 Nigeria 142 NorthernIreland 127 Noway 229 Pakistan 253 Palestine 317 Panama 385 Peru 231 Philippines 128 Poland 129 Portugal

72 Puerto Rim 132 Romania 192 Russia 233 SaudiArabia

140 Scotland 234 Singapore I56 SlovakiaISbvakRep& 449 SouthAftica 134 Spain 136 Sweden 137 Swiierland 237 Syria 238 Taiwan 239 Thailand 351 Trinidad& Tobacjo 240 Turkey

57 UnitedStates

78 U.S. Virgin Islands 180 USSR 195 Ukrame

387 uway

388 Venezuela 242 Vietnam 147 Yugoslavia

Figure A3 Flashcard C

Numeric List of Selected Countries

57 United States

60 AmericanSamoa

66 Guam

72 Puerto Rim

78 U.S. Virgin Islands

102 Austiia

103 Belgium

105 Czechoslovakia

106 Denmark

108 Finland

lo9 Francs

110 Germany

116 Greece

117 Hungary

119 1relandlEire

120 Italy

126 Holland

126 Nethedands

127 Norway

128 Poland

129 Portugal

130 Azores

132 Romania

134 Spain

136 Sweden

137 Switzerland

138 Great Britain

139 Engfar!d

140 Scotland

142 Northern Ireland

147 Yugoslavia

148 Europe

155 Czech Republic

156 SlovWSbvak Republic

180 USSR

183 Latvia

184 Lithuania

185 Amnia

192 Russia 195 Uloaine

200 Afghanistan

202 Bangladesh 205 Burma 206 Carrkxlia 207 CMna 209 HongKong 210 India 211 Indonesia

212 Iran

213 Iraq

214 Israel 215 Japan 216 Jordan

218 KoreaEouth KO rea

221 Laos

22? Lebanon 224 Malaysia 229 Pakistan

231 Philippines

233 Saudi Arabia

234 Singapore

237 Syria

238 Taiwan

239 Thaland

240 Turkey

242 Vietnam

245 Asia

252 Mile East

253 Palestine

300 Bemuda

301 Canada

304 North Amelica

310 Belize

311 Costa Rim

312 USalvador

313 Guatemala

314 Honduras

315 Mexico 316 Niigua

317 panama

318 Central America

333 Bahamas

334 BaIbados

337 Cuba

338 Dominica

339 Dominican Republic

340 Grenada

342 Haiti

343 Jamaica

351 Trinidad& Tobago

353 Caribbean

375 Argentina

376 Bolivia

37? Brazil

378 Chile

379 GObmbia 380 Ecuador 383 Guyana

385 Peru

387 uruway

388 Venezuela

389 SwthAmerica

415 Egypt

417 Ethiopia

421 Ghana

427 Kenya

436 MOroccX,

440 Nigeria

449 South Africa

462 Other Africa

468 North Africa

501 Australia

507 F'gi

514 NwZealarid

527 Pacific Islands

555 Elsewhere

Figure A5 For use by researcher in coding countries


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