Support #1389

Is there a variable for the number of children living outside the household?

Added by Fiona Steele 6 months ago. Updated 5 months ago.

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Is there a variable which indicates the number of children a respondent has living outside the household? I am interested in children aged 16+ who the questions about exchanges of help with children refer to (chaid1 etc). (I would also ideally like to know the age and sex of the children, but presumably I would have to extract this information from the birth histories.)

I am working with the BHPS-UKHLS harmonised file.

Thanks for any advice you can offer.

Best wishes,


Updated by Alita Nandi 6 months ago

  • Assignee set to Fiona Steele
  • % Done changed from 0 to 50

Hi Fiona,

The file a_natchild records the number of children ever born to adult respondents in GPS+EMBS and whether the child lives with the adult respondent. The file f_natchild does the same for IEMBS. After the initial wave, w_newborn records any children born between waves, and also records whether the child is living with the adult respondent.

In alternate waves starting with Wave 1, information is collected about relationship with non-resident family members including children in the module Family Networks (see variables LVREL*).

Best wishes,
On behalf of Understanding Society User Support


Updated by Alita Nandi 6 months ago

  • Private changed from Yes to No

Updated by Fiona Steele 6 months ago

Hi Alita,

Thanks very much for your advice. I will look into constructing the variable using the natchild files.

I had hoped to use the nrels* variables to determine the number of non-coresident children and siblings. However, I noticed an inconsistency in the labeling of these variables across waves. I am using waves c, e and g (for the family networks module). In wave g nrels3 is the number of sons/daughters, but in waves c and e the same variable is labelled the number of grandchildren and none of the nrels* variable relate to children. In g nrels4 is the number of siblings, but in waves c and e it is nrels2.

The same query was asked about a year ago (#1227) but I did not find a response.

Best wishes,


Updated by Alita Nandi 6 months ago

  • % Done changed from 50 to 80

Hi Fiona,

You are right. But the labelling is not wrong. NRELS1-NRELS6 in Waves 3 & 5 correspond to NRELS3-NRELS8 in Waves 7 & 9 - in that order. So, for example, C_NRELS3 is the number of absent grandchildren and G_NRELS3 is the number of absent sons/daughters. The NRELS questions is filtered on those who choose LVREL 3,4,5,6,7,8. In Waves 3 & 5, the suffixes of the resulting NRELS variables were 1-6. Buf in Waves 7 & 9 the suffixes corresponded with the LVREL values and so NRELS3-8.

We will put in a variable note on the online variable descriptions now to explain this and make the variable names consistent across waves at the next release.

Best wishes,


Updated by Fiona Steele 5 months ago

Hi Alita,

I just saw your response - thank you so much. This is very clear.

I have one final query which would resolve my confusion about these variables. In Waves 3 and 5, the variable label for NRELS1 is "Number of relations: ...". Should this be "Number of sons/daughters"? It seems so because there are valid responses for this variable only when LVREL3=1. This would also correspond to the variable label for NRELS3 in Waves 7 and 9.

Best wishes,


Updated by Alita Nandi 5 months ago

Yes you are correct. The label for NRELS1 in Wave 3 & 5 should be "Number of absent sons/daughters"


Updated by Alita Nandi 5 months ago

Hi Fiona,

We have added variable notes to reflect this.

Could you please take a quick look and let me know if any of the variable notes don't make sense?



Updated by Alita Nandi 5 months ago

  • Status changed from New to Feedback

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