, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 853–880 | Cite as

Going Nuclear? Family Structure and Young Women’s Health in India, 1992–2006

  • Keera AllendorfEmail author


Scholars traditionally argued that industrialization, urbanization, and educational expansion lead to a decline in extended families and complementary rise in nuclear families. Some have suggested that such transitions are good for young married women because living in nuclear families benefits their health. However, extended families may also present advantages for young women’s health that outweigh any disadvantages. Using the Indian National Family Health Survey, this article examines whether young married women living in nuclear families have better health than those in patrilocal extended families. It also examines whether young married women’s living arrangements are changing over time and, if so, how such changes will affect their health. Results show that young married women living in nuclear families do not have better health than those in patrilocal extended families. Of eight health outcomes examined, only five differ significantly by family structure. Further, of the five outcomes that differ, four are patrilocal extended-family advantages and only one is a nuclear-family advantage. From 1992 to 2006, the percentage of young married women residing in nuclear families increased, although the majority remained in patrilocal extended families. This trend toward nuclear families will not benefit young women’s health.


Family structure Family change Extended families Health India 



The author would like to thank Arland Thornton, Tim Liao, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. A previous version of this article was presented at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Las Vegas, NV.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

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