Study Description

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

CATALOG NUMBER: QP-009-001-2-1-United States-DISC-1987

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

Bibliographic Citation:Bumpass, Larry L., Vaughn Call and James A. Sweet. National Survey of Families and Households: Wave 1 (1987-1988). [machine-readable data file]. Madison, WI: Center for Deomography and Ecology. University of Wisconsin-Madison [producer]. 1988. Madison, WI: Data and Information Services Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison [distributor], 2015. <>; ().

ORIGINATING ORGANIZATION: Center for Deomography and Ecology. University of Wisconsin-Madison

DISC SOURCE: Professor Larry Bumpass, Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

UNIVERSE TO WHICH DATA PERTAIN: Noninstitutionalized population aged 19 and older or married in the contiguous United States.


SAMPLE DESCRIPTION: The main NSFH sample was a national, multi-stage area probability sample containing about 17,000 housing units drawn from 100 sampling areas in the 48 contiguous states in the U.S. Wave one had 13,007 respondents. The sample included a main cross-section sample of 9,637 households. The oversample of blacks, Puerto Ricans, Mexican Americans, single-parent families and families with stepchildren, cohabiting couples and recently married was accomplished by doubling the number of households selected within the 100 sampling areas. See details on sampling in Appendix L: National Survey of Families and Households: A Sampling Report.

NUMBER OF DATA UNITS: 13007 cases, 4355 variables.

TYPE OF FILE: Numerical

MODE OF STORAGE: online; logical record in ASCII format

REFERENCE MATERIALS: codebook, methdology report, questionnaire (English and Spanish), skipmaps, record layout, SAS and SPSS statement files,

PUBLICATIONS: ICPSR has a comprehensive list of publications used NSFH data at this link.

CONDITION OF DATA: As obtained from NSFH study website

ABSTRACT OF CONTENT: The National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) 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.


DESCRIPTORS: adoption, child custody, child support, divorce, education, experience, families, family life, family relationships, family structure, fertility, financial assets, household composition, income, job history, life events, life history, living arrangements, marital relationships, parental attitudes, psychological wellbeing, social contact, stepfamilies, wages and salaries