Modernization and Household Composition in India, 1983-2009

Etienne Breton , Princeton University

Are urbanization, industrialization and educational expansion linked to household nucleation in India in recent decades? To answer this question, the current study examines national trends in household composition between 1983 and 2009 using data from the National Sample Survey harmonized by IPUMS-International. Results show that the prevalence of nuclear households increased only modestly during this period. Occupational diversification and the decline of farming contributed to this increase, but the same cannot be said of urbanization and educational expansion. Among elderly couples, nuclear households have been more prevalent in rural areas than in urban areas from 1993 onward. Among young couples, nuclear households have been most prevalent among the least educated. These analyses suggest that the strongest driver of household nucleation has not been the emergence of a highly-educated urban elite, but the economic stagnation or relative pauperization of vulnerable segments of the population who have been left behind by modernization.

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 Presented in Session 4. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions