How is household head defined in Ipums-international? Is it the eldest in the household?


I am working with the Spanish census, and I want to compare the household composition to another survey. I know that in the census the questions available report about the relationship among its members like: Person number of your wife/husband; Person number of your parents; etc. However, it doesn’t specify who is the household head.

I would like to know which criteria was used to define the RELATE variable in the census of Spain, and therefore, how the household head was defined.

Thank you.




PUMS-International respects the definition of the original census question. Beginning with the 2000 census round some statistical offices are tying to move away from household head to “reference person”. Where no household head is defined by the census, the first person listed on the census form becomes the household head. see the definition here:…



As Ambassador Bob has pointed out, the definition of Household Head is dependent on the Census in question. For Spain specifically, in 1981 the definition listed in the original questionnaire reads:

“Householder-- For the purpose of the census, the householder is considered to be the person whom other members of the household recognize as having the status of householder. This person will be listed first in the census questionnaire.]”

While the 1991 and 2001 questionnaires do not contain similar notes, it seems to follow that the designation of “Householder” or “Head of Household” is ultimately decided upon by the household in question.

I hope this helps.