Paus family portrait NFB-18645
Group photograph of a Norwegian family by Gustav Borgen ca. 1900: Father, mother, three sons and two daughters.

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. Its members are either genetically related (like brother and sister) or legally bound to each other, for example 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.

Types of families

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

  1. A nuclear family is made up of parents and one or more children living together.
  2. A single-parent family is one where there is one parent and one or more children.
  3. An extended family or joint families means father, mother, daughters, sons, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews. 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".

Foster families are families where a child lives with and is cared for by people who are not his or her parents.


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%
Full sibling first-degree 50% (2−2+2−2)
Parent-offspring 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)

Related pages


Family for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.