We recommend using a two-question format to measure household composition. First, ask how many people live in the household; then, using a single, multiple-response question, ask for the relationship of everyone in the household, and the relation to the respondent. This question has been used effectively on a survey fielded by MPR which was not reviewed for this report. The question will provide the necessary information on the number of household members and their relationship to the respondent, with the utmost anonymity which should reduce item nonresponse.
We then recommend asking for the ages of the children who live in the household. Furthermore, we recommend asking whether the respondent has any children under age 18 who do not currently live with the respondent. Time permitting, we also would recommend asking where these children live and why they live there.