Household/ family structure: India
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2011: Most families were nuclear
Nuclear family or joint family? This old question was settled many years ago with over half of India's households recorded as nuclear, that is, a husband-wife pair living with their married or unmarried children, since the 1990s. Joint families make up just 16% of all households.That leaves about a third of India's households that are neither `nuclear' nor `joint'.So, where do they fit in? Recently released Census 2011data shows that there is a 2011data shows that there is a whole range of household types between nuclear and joint. Numerically biggest among these is what is called the `supplemented nuclear' household making up another 16% of the nearly 25 crore households in India. `Supplemented nuclear' households are households where an unmarried relative a younger brother of the husband or wife, or maybe an elderly aunt stays with the family.
But the more interesting But the more interesting case is that of the `broken extended' household. In terms of share of total households, it is just 4%, that is, about 1 crore households. But it is the dizzying pace of its growth that is noteworthy 180% in a decade. `Broken extended' households are defined as those with a head of the household without a spouse, and some other relatives in residence, not more than one of whom is married. As an example, think of an elderly widowed woman staying with her elderly widowed sister in law and their married nephew and spouse.
This `broken extended' type of household has anoth er peculiarity. Female headed types of such households have increased seven times in the past decade. A smaller number to start off with is causing the increase to look so much, but there is undoubtedly more to it.
One plausible theory is that a combination of increasing life expectancy of women which is in any case more than men and people having to leave their homes to migrate and work elsewhere is leading to a spurt in these in-between types of households that are neither joint nor nuclear.
Single person households Single person households too have increased by about 35% over the decade, with a higher rate of growth in urban areas, presumably because of youngsters migrat ing to cities for education or jobs and setting up house there.
The total number of households in India increased by 29% between 2001 and 2011.Compared to this, the increase in joint families of just 9% clearly shows the process of breakdown of this system.
But here's another remarkable thing. It appears that joint families are thriving in cities but breaking up in rural areas. They increased by 29% in urban areas compared to just 2% in rural areas in the decade. This is again a combination of factors at play economic migration to urban areas followed by migration of dependents, and the economic pressure of urban life with its lack of affordable housing.