The changing household size and structure in Iran

Akbar Aghajanian, Fayetteville State University

This paper reports on household characteristics and transition in Iran during the last three decades (1976-2006). Iran experienced a multitude of demographic and social changes during the last decades that are expected to influence the size and structure of household. A sharp fertility transition and lowering fertility to replacement level, a high rate of urbanization from below 40 percent to 68 percent, and a significant improvement in infant and child mortality level have characterized the Iranian society in the past three decades. The paper investigates the shift from large household size and extended residential household model in Iran, utilizing the census and survey data from 1976 through 2006.Overall household size fell about one person in Iran and slightly more in urban areas during the period under consideration. There is significant variation in the household size across the Iranian provinces even after controlling for urbanization and economic development level. The share of non-nuclear members of the households has declined. This is particularly related to the large decline in the share of the non-relative members. But the overall share of the extended households, measured by residential sharing, declined slightly. Despite an expectation of significant decline of this type of household in urban areas, the share of residential extended households declined about 1 percent over the three decades. The preliminary analysis of these data suggest that the transition in the household structure and size in Iran has not followed the conventional model of modernization theory, where urbanization and urban concentration is conventionally considered as factors leading to nuclear family arrangement. Even the tight urban economic arrangement and housing limitation which is usually considered impetus toward nuclear household type, has not dented the traditional pattern.

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Presented in Poster Session 2