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Nuclear family

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Nuclear family  (NUCLEAR family)

The family1 (cf. 112-1) as a unit in demographic studies needs to be specifically defined and definitions for different purposes may vary. A unit so selected may be called a census family1 or a statistical family1. In some countries the definition of a statistical family may approximate to the biological family, in others the definition may be based on the nuclear family2 or family nucleus2 consisting of the head of the household, his spouse and their unmarried children. These may either form the census family itself or be the core of such a family.

  • 1. In the United States of America the primary family is that family unit which contains the head of the household; a sub-family is a married couple with or without children, or a parent with one or more children under 18 years of age, living in a household and related to, but not including the head of the household and his wife. In Great Britain the primary family unit consists of parents and their children, the parents’ sibs and ancestors. A broken family is one in which one of the parents has been lost by death, divorce or desertion; and there is also the abnormal family, such as an unmarried mother and her illegitimate children. The joint family or composite family generally consists of more than two generations of a biological family and is found in countries where it is not the custom for children to leave the parental home on marriage.