Chapter 19: Household, family and social ties

This chapter explains and presents typologies used in the report to identify different ways of life and employment, which form the framework for many topics of the report; it is on this basis that the structural changes of households and families are described.

Households and families mediate between economic and social participation: They offer manpower, consume goods and services, organise everyday life and help to establish close relationships. On the one hand, household and family structures form a basic analytical unit for reporting. On the other hand, as a result of socioeconomic developments, they themselves are a subject matter of reporting. Changes in the formation and organisation of households and families and family relations are influenced by demographic and economic factors. At the same time, however, they express subjective choices. ‘Household’ and ‘family’ stand for different social contexts which less and less correspond to each other: extended family networks continue to play an important role, but are increasingly organised across the boundaries of different households. Thus, the patterns of consumption, relationships and economic activity change too.

After a theoretically based differentiation of the central concepts ‘family’ and ‘household’ the following research questions are discussed:

  • Which factors influence the starting of a household and/or a family?
  • In which kind of constellations are households and families tied together?
  • To what extent and in which form are households or families connected with each other in their role as producers of welfare?
  • How does state and socio-structural regulation influence the development of family and household structures (e.g. currently via the definition of ‘communities of need’ in basic public insurance)? Where do assumptions by the welfare state concerning ‘normal’ welfare production and mutual obligations of families exist in tension with really existing lifestyles?
  • In order to represent households and families as welfare producers, the labour supply has to be observed not just individually but in the household and family context: Which earner models become reality and what are the determining factors involved?

For soeb 2 three household typologies are needed. In each case, a good connectivity with the family and household typologies, provided by the Federal Statistical Office and family reporting, is of great importance:

  • For the construction of household types we distinguish the number of household members, couple relationships, the age of adult household members as well as the number and the age of children (i.e. children in an age with the obligation to care obligations are accounted for separately).
  • Additionally, household earning types take into account the labour participation of adult household members, divided into fulltime and part-time employment.
  • In order to make analyses in micro data records compatible to socioeconomic modelling, one has to construct socioeconomic household types in the style of the Federal Statistical Office, which are based on the predominant type of income earner.

Household typologies also have to be constructed in such a way as to be compatible to the income and consumption sample. Thus, income analyses at the household level, taking into consideration household composition and earner models, should be made possible.

When distinguishing family households, the marital status has to be taken into account as an additional feature. It should further be included whether the nuclear or extended family is divided into several households; spatial proximity being a further feature (e.g. distribution of a family over several households at the same location). These primary relationships are a typing feature for households and families.

SOEP and micro census are used as data basis.


Responsibility for this chapter

Internationales Institut für empirische Sozialökonomie (INIFES)