Household Level ESeC

Traditionally the unit of analysis or class composition has been the family/household rather than the individual. That is, the nuclear family is seen as the basic structural element because of the inter-dependence and shared conditions of family members. A family member’s own position may have less relevance to his/her life chances than those of another family member. A practical solution to this problem has been to select one family or household member as a reference person and take that person’s position to stand for the whole household.

Essentially, assigning an ESeC category to a household involves deciding which household member best defines that household’s position. This person is termed the household reference person (HRP).

In the past the reference person was defined as the Head of Household – the eldest householder, with males taking precedence over females in the case of couples or non-related joint householders. However, a preferable definition of the Household Reference Person would be: the person responsible for owning or renting or who is otherwise responsible for the accommodation. In the case of joint householders, the person with the highest income takes precedence and becomes the HRP. Where incomes are equal, the older is taken as the HRP. This procedure increases the likelihood both that a female will be the HRP and that the HRP better characterises the household’s social position. Of course, NSIs must use whatever rule prevails in their organization for defining the HRP. Other users will be forced to use whatever rule prevails on the dataset in use.