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Mother's line number (self-reported)


0 = No mother of this person present in household.


PELNMOM is a variable that indicates whether the person's mother lived in the same household and, if so, gives the line number (LINENO) of the mother. PELNMOM makes it easy for researchers to link the characteristics of mothers and children and is particularly useful for studying cohabiting families.

Since 2007, respondents have been asked whether each household member resides with his or her mother. If they responded yes, the interviewer recorded the mother's line number. In addition, respondents reported whether the mother was a biological, step, or adoptive parent (PEMOMTYP). Respondents also identified fathers (PELNDAD), spouses (ASPOUSE), and cohabiting partners (PECOHAB).

These variables are reported as is and may need additional cleaning by researchers. IPUMS-CPS plans to test these variables in the future and will revise them if necessary. In particular, when a child resides with one biological parent and that parent's cohabiting partner, the child is usually reported to live with only one parent. Researchers can use information on the father's cohabiting partner (PECOHAB) to identify those cohabiting stepmothers who are not included in PELNMOM. Married stepmothers are always identified by PELNMOM.

PELNMOM is similar to the IPUMS-CPS constructed variable MOMLOC which identifies probable mothers on the basis of relationship to household head, age, marital status, and additional demographic characteristics and is available since 1968. In most instances, MOMLOC and PELNMOM will identify the same mother. The IPUMS constructed variables, however, link children in cohabiting families to only one parent. Disagreements can also occur in ambiguous situations or as a result of reporting errors. Note that MOMLOC references the mother's person number (PERNUM), while PELNMOM provides the line number (LINENO).

An Introduction to the Family Interrelationship Variables can be found on IPUMS-USA. On this page you'll find specific examples of how pointer variables, like PELNMOM, can be used efficiently. The Census Bureau working paper "Improvements to Demographic Household Data in the Current Population Survey: 2007" may also be useful.


PELNMOM is consistent in all years for which it is available.

Comparability with IPUMS-USA

No self-reported family relationship variables are available in IPUMS-USA.


  • All persons.


Years Jan Feb ASEC Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2007 – 2018 X X X X X X X X X X X X X
2019 X X - X X X X X X X X X X



Unharmonized Variables