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Using survey data to research family relationships. Angela Dale University of Manchester. Why would you?. Are family relationships well captured by surveys? Yes and No. The ‘yes’ bits. Surveys are good at capturing family structure and composition

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using survey data to research family relationships

Using survey data to research family relationships

Angela Dale

University of Manchester

why would you
Why would you?
  • Are family relationships well captured by surveys?
    • Yes

and

    • No
the yes bits
The ‘yes’ bits
  • Surveys are good at capturing family structure and composition
    • Especially when the family is defined as being co-resident
    • Asking for information on everyone living together – and their relationships
    • Many surveys use a household matrix to capture the relationship of each person to allothers in the household
slide5

Relationships of other household members to person 1 (hholds with >1 person)

How are the people in your household related to each other?

1 Spouse 4,905

2 Cohabitee 892

3 Son or daughter 6,319

4 Step-son/daughter 272

5 Foster child 11

6 Son/daughter-in-law 42

7 Parent/guardian 99

8 Step-parent 3

9 Foster-parent 0

10 Parent-in-law 23

11 Brother/sister 86

12 Step-brother/sister 2

13 Foster brother/sister 0

14 Brother/sister-in-law 13

15 Grandchild 144

16 Grand-parent 5

17 Other relative 32

18 Other non-relative 337

19 Civil Partner 6

Notes: adopted children are included with natural children.

Source: GHS 2006, R01 – relationship to person 1

slide6

Household type F (grouped) GHS, 2006

1 1 person only 2,722

2 2+ unrelated adults 549

3 married couple with dependent children 7,267

4 married couple, independent children 1,661

5 married couple, no children 5,208

6 lone parent, dependent children 1,937

7 lone parent, independent children 579

8 2+ families 460

9 same sex cohabitees 71

10 cohabiting couple, dependent children 1,265

11 cohabiting couple, independent children 53

12 cohabiting couple, no children 1,054

more yes bits
More ‘yes’ bits
  • Understanding family processes is crucial to much social science
    • Effects of parental characteristics on child outcomes, eg educational attainment, obesity
    • Social mobility and the role of parental networks, informal support
    • Informal caring
      • Survey evidence provides one, but only one, important kind of knowledge on these topics
some questions
Some questions
  • How many women aged 16-59 in Britain lived in three-generational households in 2001?
    • a) 2% b) 10% c) 20%
  • In 2001 were lone parents with dependent children more likely to be
  • Single, b) divorced, c) widowed,d) separated or e) married?
answers
Answers
  • How many women aged 16-59 in Britain lived in three-generational households in 2001?
    • a) 2% b) 10% c) 20%
  • In 2001 were lone parents with dependent children more likely to be

a) Single (39%), b) divorced (35%), c) widowed (5%) d) separated (18%), e)married (3%)?

answers bangladeshis
Answers - Bangladeshis
  • How many women aged 16-59 in Britain lived in three-generational households in 2001?
    • a) 2% b) 10% c) 20%
  • In 2001 were lone parents with dependent children more likely to be

a) Single (5%), b) divorced (12%), c) widowed (39%) or d) separated (23) married (30)?

who are you interested in
Who are you interested in?
  • Surveys allow you to explore:
    • Children - how do children’s educational outcomes relate to the number of siblings they have?
    • Partnerships – movement in and out of partnerships
    • the elderly – do they live alone or with other kin? Is this changing? How does it vary with socio-economic characteristics? With ethnicity?
    • Women – how is women’s employment influenced by that of their partner?
the benefits of surveys
The benefits of surveys
  • You can use large good quality surveys someone else has collected
  • You can get a nationally representative picture of the topic of interest
  • You can make comparisons between groups based on the same questions
  • You can make your own definitions of family – but depends on questions asked and answers recorded
family relationships the no bits
Family relationships: the ‘no’ bits
  • Surveys set their own agenda and ask everyone the same questions
    • Although good pilot work finds out salient issues from respondents you cannot pursue interesting answers; you cannot ask ‘why’ and ‘how’ and ‘what does it feel like’
    • Respondents do not have their own voice
      • Some surveys provide space for write-ins
family relationships the no bits1
Family relationships: the ‘no’ bits
  • The family is the site of conflict, intimacy, affection, rivalry …..
  • Surveys cannot capture the depth of these relationships
  • Surveys are not good at capturing ambivalence
getting the best of both worlds
Getting the best of both worlds?
  • Can one combine the strengths of surveys with the strengths of qualitative methods?
  • Yes, there are many good examples, but don’t forget that different methods produce different knowledge
surveys can provide a context for qualitative research
Surveys can provide a context for qualitative research
  • background information about the locality of a study
  • Information on the demographic structure of a group, or their socio-economic characteristics
  • Published data – or simple on-line extraction - can often give you exactly what you need
surveys can identify questions which need qualitative research
Surveys can identify questions which need qualitative research
  • Surveys often throw up puzzles which need deeper, qualitative work to answer
    • eg why do many Pakistani and Bangladeshi women have low levels of economic activity?
  • Survey analysis can help to target a theoretical sample for deeper and richer analysis
    • Eg a comparison between key groups of Pakistani and white women
  • Analysis can be integrated, eg
  • survey analysis-> quali work -> better model with survey data
exploring differences
Exploring differences
  • Surveys and qualitative methods can give conflicting accounts
    • Different methods generate different kinds of knowledge, so not surprising
    • But deeper interrogation using both methods can be very valuable
    • Can lead to greater understanding than either methods along
    • Neither method is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ but each can generate important questions for the other
how to have a go
How to have a go
  • The Economic and Social Data Service provide access and support to many different surveys
    • Cross-section and longitudinal
    • Wide range of topics
  • On-line quick and easy access
www esds ac uk
www.esds.ac.uk
  • Introductory workshops
  • Web-based resources
  • Getting started Guides
  • Guides to SPSS and STATA
  • Methodological Guides
  • Helpdesk