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Title: Modernization and Household Change in India
Authors: Breton, Etienne
Advisors: Massey, Douglas S
Contributors: Population Studies Department
Keywords: Demography
Living Arrangements
Subjects: Demography
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The classical modernization hypothesis predicted that urbanization, industrialization and educational expansion would cause a worldwide convergence to small and nuclear households. Although rejected as a global theory of household change, this hypothesis remains central to household research in several countries. This is notably the case in India, where scholars still debate whether modernization has caused the disintegration of the traditional joint household system. This dissertation uses a mixed-methods approach to provide new insights into the study of modernization and household change in India. Over three empirical chapters, I develop and apply a common conceptual framework to investigate this relationship at three levels of analyses – national, subnational and local. All three chapters converge to show that modernization influences household patterns in India, although often in ways that contradict the classical modernization hypothesis. The first empirical chapter uses data from India’s National Sample Survey (NSS) harmonized by IPUMS-International to show that there was no strong increase in nuclear households at the national-level over the past three to four decades. Further analyses reveal that the strongest driver of household nucleation has not been the emergence of a modern elite, but the economic stagnation or pauperization of segments of the population left behind by modernization. The second empirical chapter uses the same NSS dataset to explore state-level variations in household patterns. Results show significant regional differences, mainly between south India, where joint households are rare, and several states located in the Indo-Gangetic Plain, where the prevalence of joint households is highest. Further analyses show that modernization is a significant albeit weak predictor of these variations. The third empirical chapter combines data from my fieldwork and ICRISAT data to study the mechanisms linking modernization to household change in two villages in India’s Deccan Plateau. I find that modernization has taken very different forms in these two villages, and thereby has had opposite implications for their patterns of household formation and composition. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that modernization is not a monolithic process leading to an ineluctable convergence to nuclear households, but instead hides multiple countervailing forces that both foster and curtail household nucleation.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Population Studies

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