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An Introduction to the Families and Children Study (FACS)

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1 An Introduction to the Families and Children Study (FACS)
DWP Social Research National Centre for Social Research

2 Contents Overview of FACS Sample design Questionnaire content
Accessing data Publications Further information

3 Overview of FACS Formerly Survey of Low Income Families (SOLIF)
Started in 1999 (Wave 1) - sample of low-income couples and lone parents at all income levels From 2001 sample represents all families - became FACS at this point Questionnaire content has changed over the waves FACS is a refreshed panel survey, which started in 1999 and annual surveys are currently planned until Whilst the same people are followed at each wave, new people are also added to refresh the sample each year.

4 Sample FACS is a refreshed panel study There are two components
cross-section: representative of all families panel: those interviewed in previous waves Sample frame = child benefit records Main respondent usually the mother

5 Cross-cutting Department for Work and Pensions (child poverty)
Inland Revenue (tax credits) Department for Education and Skills (childcare) Department for Transport (travel to school) Children and Young Persons Unit (youth services) Sure Start (early childhood) Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (social exclusion)

6 Questionnaire content

7 Data format Family level datasets Separate child level datasets
Single flat files Small set of derived variables added to each file No values have been declared missing on the files supplied. Generally speaking, for variables based on the questionnaire, (999)8 means ‘not answered’ (999)9 means ‘don’t know’ and these are indicated as value labels. These codes are entered into the imputation flag (variables ending ‘x’) where imputation has been carried out.

8 Data - number of cases Low-income + lone parent sample All families
Wave 1 (1999) cross-section, approx. 4,700 families Wave 1-4 panel, approx. 2,700 families All families Wave 3 (2001), cross-section, approx. 8,000 families Wave 3-4 panel, approx. 6,700 families Family level Each row of data represents a family in that year’s dataset. The rows include main respondent, partner and child level information. In 2002, a separate child-level file contains most of the child level data. Families are defined as those with dependent children – dependent children being under the age of 16 or 16 to 18 but in full-time education. Information about other adult members of the family that don’t meet the ‘dependency’ criteria is held in the household grid. As mentioned earlier, families that have become families with no dependent children are still interviewed – this policy is being kept under review. Child-Level Information about children is contained within the family level datasets. Child level variables are prefixed by ‘C’ (after any wave identifier). The children within each household are assigned a number, which appears at the end of the variable name. There is provision for up to nine dependent children within each family (up to 2000; then expanded to 14). For example, wCDOB01 Date of birth (child 1) For 1999 to 2001 there are no datasets distributed where each child represents a row of data, i.e. there being a record for each child of every family. However, from 2002 onwards, hierarchical datasets have been produced where a family level and child level dataset are produced separately. The household serial number (SERIALNO) is assigned to each child on each row of data and each child within a family has an identifier (dPERSNO in 2002) based on their position in the household grid. Child-level datasets are likely to be available for all future waves. Partner level wPARTNER indicates whether there is a partner in the household or not. The variable names for information pertaining to partners are prefixed by a ‘P’ (although this comes after any wave identifying prefix). For example, wPUSPAY (Usual pay –weekly) relates to the partner, whereas wUSPAY relates to the main respondent.

9 How to access the data Data and documentation available from data archive SN 4427 Families and Children Survey (FACS), ; Waves 1-4 Wave 5 (2003) available late 2004

10 Documents supplied with the data
Codebooks – listings of variables Derived variables – details of what is supplied and how derived Imputation – what’s been imputed and how Questionnaires – Word and CAPI versions Weights – details of use User guide - hints on how to use FACS

11 Main publications Wave 1 (1999) Wave 2 (2000) Wave 3 (2001)
Low-income families in Britain [DWP RR no. 138] Wave 2 (2000) WFTC & work [161]; Living standards [164]; Family change [165] Wave 3 (2001) Family change [180]; WFTC [181]; Living standards and children [190]; Work and childcare [191] Wave 4 (2002) Families and Children in Britain 2002 [206] Technical reports each year

12 Further Information FACS user website
FACS work in progress (FACS Analysis Programme) FACS respondent website National Centre for Social Research website

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