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Classification and coding process

Classification criteria

Living arrangements is a hierarchical classification with three levels. At level 1, usual residence with close familial relatives (living with spouse/partner, child and parent) is the criterion for classification. This is because spouse/partner, parent, and child living arrangements are needed to identify different types of households and families (see the classification and related statistical standards for family type and household composition). All other living arrangements are aggregated at level 1 to three broad categories: other relative; non–relative; and guest/visitor/inmate/patient/ resident.

At level 2 of the classification all familial relationships are listed, including close familial relationships (spouse, child, parent) and other familial relationships (sibling, grandparent, aunt/uncle, cousin). Of the non–familial relationships, only living with flatmate is given at level 2. This is because flatmate is a frequent response to the living arrangements question. It helps identify, for example, 'households of unrelated people' (see the statistical standard for household composition). All other non–familial relationships are aggregated at level 2 under 'other non–relative'.

Level 3 of the classification classifies familial relationships in greater detail, for example, by categories that provide generational information such as 'great' (eg great-grandparent) categories. Non–familial relationships are given in full detail at level three.


Living arrangements is a hierarchical classification with three levels. Level 1 has seven categories, level 2 has 18 categories and level 3 contains 34 categories – excluding residual categories.

The residual categories are defined in Glossary and references.

The full classification is available in the 'Available Files' section on the main page.

Coding process

  • Familial relationships should be given priority over non–familial relationships whenever possible.
  • If a person reports that they do not usually reside with anyone, they are coded to 'live alone'.
  • When people indicate that they live with a relative or relatives, but no further information on the exact nature of the living arrangements can be ascertained, the response should be coded to the 'other relative not further defined' category.
  • 'Other relative not elsewhere classified' is used for responses that specify a type of relative that is not elsewhere in the classification – such as “my great aunt’s second cousin”.
  • The residual categories are used for responses that fall outside the categories in the classification.

Note for sample surveys

  • When the living arrangements classification forms the basis for the derivation of the family classifications, interviewers or respondents are to be encouraged to record informal or formal foster relationships as a parent/child relationship when they are otherwise unrelated.

A codefile is used to code responses. A codefile is a comprehensive list of probable survey responses and the categories to which they are coded. The codefile for living arrangements contains the people that respondents are likely to report living with, such as “de facto” and “god son”.

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