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In our editorial meeting after today's census show, we spent a few minutes knocking around the phrase "head of household." Deni Luna from the Census Bureau brought it up in response to a question about how different members of a family can check boxes for different ethnic or racial backgrounds.
"Head of household" seemed to strike all of us as an old-fashioned (and uncomfortably patriarchal?) way of thinking about families. Sarah noted that she'd probably make her three-year-old the head of the household, since he's basically in charge anyway. I figured that my wife would want to flip a coin.
But it turns out I won't need that coin. The phrase hasn't been a part of the Census for the last 30 years. This is from their website:
Beginning with the 1980 CPS, the Bureau of the Census discontinued the use of the terms "head of household" and "head of family." Instead, the terms "householder" and "family householder" are used. Recent social changes have resulted in greater sharing of household responsibilities among the adult members and, therefore, have made the term "head" increasingly inappropriate in the analysis of household and family data. Specifically, beginning in 1980, the Census Bureau discontinued its longtime practice of always classifying the husband as the reference person (head) when he and his wife are living together.
And they explain "householder" this way:
The householder refers to the person (or one of the people) in whose name the housing unit is owned or rented (maintained) or, if there is no such person, any adult member, excluding roomers, boarders, or paid employees. If the house is owned or rented jointly by a married couple, the householder may be either the husband or the wife. The person designated as the householder is the "reference person" to whom the relationship of all other household members, if any, is recorded.
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