Are urbanization, industrialization, and educational expansion linked to household nucleation in India in recent decades? This 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. Descriptive analyses show that while occupational diversification is broadly associated with a higher prevalence of nuclear households, the same cannot be said of urbanization and the expansion of schooling. Contrary to predictions, nuclear households are most prevalent not among young university-educated professionals, but among their less educated counterparts. At older ages, nuclear households have been most prevalent among uneducated laborers and have also increased sharply among farmers. These analyses suggest that the strongest driver of household nucleation has not been the emergence of a modern elite, but the economic stagnation or pauperization of vulnerable groups left behind by modernization.
Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.