Changes in household composition and its demographic driving forces

Leiwen Jiang, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)

Projections of changes in household composition are crucial for understanding how demographic dynamics affect future social, economic and environmental development pathways given that household is often the unit of consumption of goods and services, and even a unit of production in many traditional societies. However, consistent population and household projections are underdeveloped, mainly due to the complexity of household formation/dissolution processes and data limitations. This study is designed to explore the patterns of household compositional changes, through analyzing the evolution of age-, sex- and size-specific headship rates among populations of different regions of the world, and over time. Using data from Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS International), we compare the headship rates of 55 countries across several decades to over a century, and investigate how headship rates of a country evolve over time, and how headship rates vary across countries. This paper pays particular attention to the relationships between changes in major demographic variables and changes in headship rates. We also study the headship rates of population by different characteristics, such as rural/urban residence, education attainments. Our study reveals a general pattern of evolution of headship rates by age, sex, and size over time and across countries at different socioeconomic development levels and different stages of demographic transition. A multivariate regression model is constructed to project the changes in headship rates as the consequences of socio-demographic factors, which will be used to inform the development of an improved and extended headship rate household model that project future household numbers and compositions by considering the impacts of demographic dynamics on household formation.

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Presented in Session 2: Families and households