How to link children to parents in households with unmarried partners?


Hi Jeff,

You answered a question of mine (almost two years ago) related to households with unmarried partners.

In that exchange, I asked how to link children to unmarried partners when they were “delinked” when using the momloc/poploc variables. I know you guys have worked to update the family relationship variables, so I’m taking a second look now that I’m updating the analysis mentioned in this prior question.

Now, I’m wondering what’s the best method or what are the best variables to identify the relationship between a child and the unmarried partner. Ideally, I would be able to identify children that are biological kids of the unmarried partners, children that are the biological children of just the household head, and children that are the biological children of just the unmarried partner. I assume thet using the related variable is the best method for determining the relationship with the household head, but do you have suggestions for accurately pinpointing the nature of the children’s relationship with the unmarried partner? Momloc and poploc are just too generious, so to speak.

Thanks in advance for your time and assistance.



IPUMS USA is currently re-developing the STEPMOM and STEPPOP variables for the 1970-onward samples as part of the update to family interrelationship variables. However, for most modern samples, the primary way stepparents are identified is by improbable age difference (outside the range 15-49 for mothers and 15-64 for fathers), and if the parent was only linked because they were married to a clear parent of the child. So using age-differences and the MOMRULE and POPRULE variables to determine the strength of these parental links should allow you to create a systematic criteria. I recommend also using the attach characteristics tool when creating your extract to attach the ages and relationship codes of parents to children, along with any other variables you think may be helpful in identifying non-biological links.

I hope this helps!