Notes on the identification of LS members who are cohabiting in 1971

The 1971 Census questions on marital status and relationship to head of household were:

Write 'HEAD' for the head of the household and relationship to the head for each of the other persons: for example 'Wife', 'Son', 'Daughter-in-law', 'Visitor', 'Boarder', 'Paying Guest'.

Write 'SINGLE', 'MARRIED', 'WIDOWED' or 'DIVORCED' as appropriate.
If separated and not divorced, write 'MARRIED'.

These questions offer no completely reliable way of identifying LS members who are cohabiting. However, some researchers have attempted this.

Existing variable: SPCIND7

The table ME71 (LS members enumerated at 1971 Census) contains a derived variable named SPCIND7 with the following codes:

0 No spouse present (no cases)
1 Spouse present
2 Cohabitant present
-1 Communal establishment
-2 Untraced, missing NM data
-3 Not in a family
-4 No dependent children
-9 Missing

Around half of all LS members present in 1971 (i.e. records in ME71) are identified by SPCIND7 as having a spouse or cohabiting partner. Appendix 36 of the 1971 section of the Data Dictionary suggests that the following criteria may have been used to identify LS members who are cohabiting:

If there is a person usually resident (VISIND = 0) with LSRELAT = 8 (unrelated to LS member) and LS member is 16+ (AGEYR > 16) and the person with LSRELAT = 8 is 16+ and LS member and person with LSRELAT = 8 are of the opposite sex and there is no one else 16+ and usually resident in the household.

These are relatively loose criteria; the variable may be best regarded as identifying possible cohabitations rather than probable cohabitations. An examination of the age differences between 'cohabiting' LS members and their partners suggests some misattributions.

Analysts planning to use this variable should note that LS members with no spouse and no identified cohabiting partner are divided between a number of codes, including -9 (if they have dependent children) and -1 to -4 (if they have no dependent children). Code 0 has no cases.

Identifying probable cohabitations

The following are a narrower set of criteria for identifying LS members who have a cohabiting partner. Any 'other household member' (i.e. record in NM71) is considered to be a cohabiting partner if the LS member:

is aged 16+ (AGE7>15)
has no spouse (noone in NM71 coded LSRELAT7=1 or LSRELAT7=2)
is in a household with no more than 2 usually resident adults (JURE7-CHILD7<3)
(NB you will have to replace negative values in JURE7 and CHILD7 with 0)
is head of household or unrelated to the head of household (HRC7B7=1 or HRC7B7=16)

and if the other member of the household:

is aged 16+ (NAGE7>15)
his/her age is within 7 years of the LS member's age (NAGE7<(AGE7+12) & NAGE7>(AGE7-12) & AGE7~=.)
is of the opposite sex to the LS member (NSEX7~=SEX)
is not a visitor to the household (NVISIND7 ~=1)

It will be apparent that the researcher can modify these criteria to suit any particular research need.


Back to list for household composition

Last modified 19 August 2010