Intergenerational Families in Developing Countries

Steven Ruggles, University of Minnesota
Misty Heggeness, University of Minnesota

We use newly-available census microdata from IPUMS-International to assess trends in intergenerational coresidence in 15 developing countries. We find no general decline in intergenerational coresidence over the past several decades. There have been, however, substantial changes in the configuration of intergenerational coresidence. Families in which the older generation is household head are becoming more common in most of the countries. Intergenerational families headed by the younger generation are on the decline in most of the countries. Multivariate analysis reveals that intergenerational families headed by the older generation are positively associated with measures of economic development. These findings are substantially at variance with widely-accepted social theory. We hypothesize that housing shortage, economic stress in the younger generation, and old-age pensions may contribute to the change. More broadly, in some developing countries rising incomes may have allowed more people to achieve their preferred family structure of intergenerational coresidence following traditional family forms.

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Presented in Session 77: Cross-national Perspectives on Family and Fertility