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Two parents and a child: the statue Family (United Nations, Geneva).

A family is a group of people who - in most cases - live together. They share their money and food and are supposed to take care of one another. A family consists of at least two generations; it cannot exist without a child or children. Its members are either genetically related (like brother and sister) or legally (and emotionally) bound to each other, e. g. by marriage. In many cultures the members of a family have the same or a similar surname. A family is said to be society´s smallest unit, its nucleus, and family life is more private and intimate that life in the public. But in most countries there are laws for it. For example, there are restrictions for marrying within the family and bans for having a sexual relationship with relatives, especially with children.

Types of families[change | change source]

Three types of family are: nuclear family, single-parent family and extended family.

  1. A nuclear family is made up of father, mother and one or more children living together. A very modern version can consist of two fathers or two mothers (same-sex parents) and the child or children.
  2. A single-parent family is one where either the mother or father is caring for the children in the family.
  3. An extended family or joint families means father, mother, daughters, sons, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews. In the United States, there are some circumstances where the extended family comes to live either with or in place of a member of the nuclear family. But in most cases in the United States the extended family no longer lives in the same place, but in many countries including China, Pakistan and India, extended or joint families traditionally live together.

Both the "nuclear family" and the "single-parent family" are also called the "immediate family".

Closeness[change | change source]

Some family members are genetically closer to each other. The following table gives examples:

Kinship Degree of
Inbred strain not applicable 99%
Identical twins not applicable 100%[1]
Full sibling first-degree 50% (2−2+2−2)
Parent-offspring[2] first-degree 50% (2−1)
Offspring/progeny first-degree 50% (2−1)
Half-sibling second-degree 25% (2−2)
3/4 siblings or sibling-cousin second-degree 37.5% (2−2+2⋅2−4)
Grandmother/grandfather second-degree 25% (2−2)
Niece/nephew third-degree 25% (2⋅2−3)
Aunt/uncle third-degree 25% (2⋅2−3)
Half-aunt, half-uncle third-degree 12.5% (2⋅2−4)
Half-niece/half-nephew third-degree 12.5% (2⋅2−4)
Great grandparent third-degree 12.5% (2−3)
First cousin fourth-degree 12.5% (2⋅2−4)
Double first couisin fourth-degree 25% (2−3+2−3)
Half-first cousin fourth-degree 6.25% (2−4)
First cousin once removed fifth-degree 6.25% (2⋅2−5)
Second cousin sixth-degree 3.125% 3.13% (2−6+2−6)
Double second cousin sixth-degree 6.25% (4⋅2−6)
Triple second cousin sixth-degree 12.5% (8⋅2−6)
Quadruple second cousin sixth-degree 9.38% (6⋅2−6)
Third cousin seventh-degree 0.781% (2⋅2−8)
Fourth cousin tenth-degree 0.20% (2⋅2−10)[3]


  1. By replacement in the definition of the notion of "generation" by meiosis". Since identical twins are not separated by meiosis, there are no "generations" between them, hence n=0 and r=1. See
  2. "Kin Selection". Benjamin/Cummings. Retrieved 2007-11-25.
  3. This degree of relationship is usually indistinguishable from the relationship to a random individual within the same population (tribe, country, ethnic group).

Related pages[change | change source]