Online Data Archive

National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH), Wave 1 (1987-1988)

The National Survey of Families and Households is designed for a large scale data collection to study the causes and consequences of the changes happening in the families and households in the U.S. Three waves of surveys were conducted in 1987-1988, 1992-1994 and 2001-2003. NSFH wave 1 consists a national (USA) sample of 13,007 including a main cross-section of 9,637 households plus an oversampling of blacks, Puerto Ricans, Mexican Americans, single-parent families, families with step-children, cohabiting couples and recently married persons. One adult per household was randomly selected as the primary respondent. The average face to face interview with the primary respondent lasted one hour and forty minutes. Several portions of the main interview were self-administered to facilitate the collection of sensitive information as well as to ease the flow of the interview. In addition, a shorter self-administered questionnaire was given to the spouse or cohabiting partner of the primary respondent. A considerable amount of life-history information was collected, including: the respondent's family living arrangements in childhood, departures and returns to the parental home, and histories of marriage, cohabitation, education, fertility, and employment. The design permits 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. This study has been undertaken explicitly to provide a data resource for the research community at large and was designed with advice from a large number of consultants and correspondents. The substantive coverage has been kept broad to permit the holistic analysis of family experience from an array of theoretical perspectives.