New Family Structures Survey (NFSS)

Data Archive > U.S. Surveys > General Population > National > Other > Summary

Knowledge Networks conducted the New Family Structures Survey on behalf of University of Texas at Austin. Specifically, the study examined the experiences of the respondents (ages 18-39) growing up in unconventional families where:

a. Parents are of the same sex (N=248)
b. Biologically unrelated parents adopted the respondent (N=210)
c. Parents were unmarried but cohabiting (N=657)
d. Biological mother had a romantic relationship with another man (N=52)
e. Biological mother did not have a romantic relationship with another man (N=122)

In addition, the survey also collected data among respondents who did not grow up in those unconventional families as a control/comparison group (N=1898).

The study seeks to understand how young adults (ages 18-39) raised by same-sex parents fare on a variety of social, emotional, and relational outcomes when compared with young adults raised in homes with their married biological parents, those raised with a step-parent, and those raised in homes with two adoptive parents. Questions on the survey cover a variety of topics including: parent-child relationship quality, romantic relationships, sexual orientation, public assistance, criminal activity, Facebook, bullying, charity, religious views, religious practices, life satisfaction, first sex, condom use, sexually transmitted diseases, rape, molestation, abortion, masturbation, suicide and alcohol use.

Data File
Cases: 15,057
Variables: 2,649
Since any alteration in the selection process is a deviation from a pure equal probability sample design, statistical weighting adjustments are made to the data to offset known selection deviations. These adjustments are incorporated in the sample’s base weight. There also are several sources of survey error that are an inherent part of any survey process, such as non-coverage and non-response due to panel recruitment methods and to inevitable panel attrition. They address these sources of sampling and non-sampling error by using a panel demographic post-stratification weight as an additional adjustment. Use WEIGHT1 when using ALL respondents, including screened cases. Useful only for incidence rates. Use WEIGHT4 for all stats (cross tabs or regressions) using all groups (adoptive, cohabiting parents, biologically intact, parental same-sex relationship, other). Use WEIGHT5 for regressions WITHIN groups (such as only cohabiting, only adoptive, etc.) WEIGHT2 and WEIGHT3 are/were for earlier and slightly smaller versions of the data.
Data Collection
Date Collected: August 19, 2011-February 21, 2012
Original Survey (Instrument)
New Family Structures Survey
Funded By
Witherspoon Institute, Bradley Foundation
Collection Procedures
Data were collected by Knowledge Networks through its KnowledgePanal, a probability-based web panel designed to be representative of the United States. The data collection field period started on August 19, 2011 and ended on February 21, 2012. Participants completed the main survey in 34 minutes (median).
Sampling Procedures
The target population consists of the following: non-institutionalized adults aged 18 to 39 residing in the United States who grew up in the aforementioned families. To sample the population, Knowledge Networks sampled individuals aged 18 to 39 from its KnowledgePanel, a probability-based web panel designed to be representative of the United States. Among panelists who were no longer on the KnowledgePanel, Knowledge Networks sampled those who left the panel between January 2009 and August 2011. Withdrawn Knowledge Networks panelists were mailed a letter via USPS that included login information and instructions to complete the survey online. Besides the standard measures taken by Knowledge Networks to enhance survey cooperation, eligible participants among the active panelists received a cash-equivalent of $5 for their participation. This amount increased to $20 in December 2011 in order to encourage participation among non-responders. In all, 12,756 out of 20,711 active panelists completed the survey, yielding a 61.6 completion percentage for active panelists. Some 2,302 out of 10,657 withdrawn panelists completed the survey, yielding a 21.6 completion rate for that group.

A screener was administered at the beginning of the survey to identify eligible respondents in each of the unconventional family types. Only respondents who grew up in the same-sex (a) or adoptive (b) households were considered eligible among withdrawn panelists. Respondents who did not grow up in an unconventional household were selected from active panelists and were treated as a control group for the study.

See the New Family Structures Survey website for the original questionnaire and codebook.
Principal Investigators
Mark Regnerus, University of Texas at Austin
Related Publications
Regnerus, Mark. 2012. "How Different Are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-Sex Relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study." Social Science Research, 56 (10):752-770.

Regnerus, Mark. 2012. "Parental Same-Sex Relationships, Family Instability, and Subsequent Life Outcomes for Adult Children: Answering Critics of the New Family Structures Study with Additional Analyses." Social Science Research, 41 (6):1367-1377.

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