We ask a question about the relationship of each person in a household to one central person to create estimates about families, households, and other groups, and to present other data at a household level.
Local, state, tribal, and federal agencies use relationship data to plan and fund government programs that provide funds or services for families, people living or raising children alone, grandparents living with grandchildren, or other households that qualify for additional assistance.
We use your confidential survey answers to create statistics like those in the results below and in the full tables that contain all the data—no one is able to figure out your survey answers from the statistics we produce. The Census Bureau is legally bound to strict confidentiality requirements. Individual records are not shared with anyone, including federal agencies and law enforcement entities. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents' answers with anyone—not the IRS, not the FBI, not the CIA, and not with any other government agency.
We ask one question about the relationship of each person to a central person in the household.
The results from this question are compiled to provide communities with important statistics to help plan assistance programs. You can see some of these published statistics here for the nation, states, and your community.
We want to know about how people in households are related (single people, couples, families, roommates, etc.), in combination with household income and housing costs, to help communities understand whether housing is affordable and meets the needs of residents. When housing is not sufficient or affordable, relationship data can help communities:
We ask about family relationships, ages of children, household income, and health insurance status to help communities:
We ask about relationship to householder to create statistics on living arrangements and how they are changing. This helps communities plan future programs and services for residents by considering whether older residents are staying in their homes as they age, whether young people are living with parents or moving in with roommates, and which kinds of households include young children. For example, the Social Security Administration estimates future program needs based on the current relationships of working people.
The relationship to householder question originated with the 1880 Census. It was added to the ACS in 2005 when it replaced the decennial census long form. The question was modified in 2019. Research about this modification and copies of previous questionnaires are available on the ACS website.