Relationship in Household (RLHP)

This variable describes the relationship of each person in a family to the family reference person or, where a person is not a part of a family, that person's relationship to the household reference person.

Categories have been revised for Relationship in Household (RLHP). A new category 'Other non-classifiable relationship' has been added to RLHP for 2011.

In the 2011 Census, data on the relationships people have with others in the same dwelling is mainly derived from question 5 on the Census Household Form, which asks for each person’s relationship to Person 1 on the form.

During the processing of Census data, families and households are identified and created based around a ‘family reference person’, and RLHP is derived for each person in the dwelling. In over 95% of cases Person 1 is the family or household reference person. For the remaining cases, a different person is selected to better allow relationships to be identified or because more than one family was identified as living in the household.

In cases where some members of a household are away from home on Census Night, members of the family nucleus (partners, parents and children) and unrelated persons who were temporarily absent on Census Night (and identified as such in question 53 on the Census Household Form) are taken into account when deriving RLHP. This allows for the identification of some families, and also for distinguishing between lone person and group households.

For people imputed into dwellings for which no form was received, relationship data is set to not applicable. More information is available from the 2011 Census non-response quality statement.

More information on RLHP is available in the 2011 Census Dictionary (cat. no. 2901.0).

See the data quality statement for Child Type (CTPP) for more information on child relationships.

Relationship variables in the Census data set are complex and subject to a variety of error:

Form and system design

Question 5 on the Census Household Form asks for the persons relationship to Person 1 on the form, with the most common relationships listed as tick-box responses and an 'Other' field for text entry of a different relationship.

Across the community, a wide variety of living arrangements exists and family structures can be complex and dynamic in nature, and so the quality of family data in the Census is partly dependent on people’s ability to describe these relationships within the constraints of the generalised questionnaire format required by a Census. In line with current Census standards, a maximum of three families per household, and two people per marriage are able to be identified. While this may generally have only a small effect on the identification of relationships within a dwelling, the impact may be more significant among population groups which are more likely to live in multi-generational households or with larger numbers of extended family members. Investigations carried out have indicated that some of the more significantly affected, smaller population groups can be geographically concentrated, and caution should be exercised when considering small area data.

Reporting error

The reporting of relationships to Person 1 can sometimes mean that closer relationships between other people in the household are sometimes lost, for example reporting 'niece' (of Person 1) instead of 'daughter of person 2'. In other cases, respondents have reported a relationship that is the reverse of what the question is intended to capture, for example, reporting 'grandparent' instead of 'grandchild'. While in many cases these errors are recognised and rectified, some are automatically accepted and can not be reviewed, precluding an assessment of this error's impact on data quality.

Processing error

More complex or unusual relationships are not automatically accepted by the processing system and are presented for manual intervention. For many households, identifying relationships to assist the coding of family or household structure for that dwelling is quite straightforward. In some cases, additional information such as name, usual residence, marital status and number of children given birth to is also used during data processing to help determine these relationships. Priority is given to identifying those relationships which form a ‘family nucleus’, i.e. partnerships and parent/child relationships. Interpretation of, at times, very complex family structures by a large number of coding specialists results in variation of coding outcomes that is difficult to measure.

Question 5 as it appeared on the 2011 Census Household Form

Image of question 5 from the 2011 Census
A text only version of this question is also available


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