The geography of the joint household structure in India : between demographic, socioeconomic and spatial patterns

Thomas Licart, Université Marc Bloch, Strasbourg

Despite debates on its nucleation, the traditional joint family remains a prominent institution in India. However, while the spatial effect plays a major role in many demographic and socioeconomic phenomena, little is known about its geographical distribution. The objective of this paper is to conduct a spatial analysis of the joint household structure at the district level in contemporary India. This study seeks to assess the relative importance of the demographic, economic, and cultural components to explain regional disparities in living arrangements. Instead of limiting the definition to a specific household form, we examine the multidimensional aspect of the joint family structure. It includes intergenerational living arrangements and coresidence of all married brothers. Thus, it involves the absence of neolocal residence for newly married sons and a strict patrilocal norm. Using the fourth wave of the National Family Health Survey, a composite index of the Joint Household Structure is developed comprising each of these dimensions. This index turns out to have a multipolar spatial distribution, distinct from the classic North/South dichotomy. Through a spatial econometric approach, this pattern seems to be the result of a complex interaction of socioeconomic, demographic and cultural factors in which space has a special role.

Keywords: Family demography, Spatial analysis/regression, Population geography

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  Presented in Session 101. Living Arrangements in a Global Perspective