Families in Asia: a cross-national comparison of inter-generational co-residence

Chia Liu, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Albert Esteve, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

We examine patterns and trends in household size and living arrangements in Asia to highlight the prevalent characteristics of Asian families showing diversity across countries and changes over time. We combine data from censuses and surveys from 12 countries spanning from 1980 to 2010, adopting two perspectives: a household and an individual level of analysis. Results show that households and families are changing in Asia while elements of the old remain. Driven by fertility decline, household size in most Asian countries has experienced a shrinkage, yet the prevalence of one-person household remains low, and confined mostly to the elderly, especially female, population. The dominant feature of intergenerational co-residence continues to characterize Asian households. The decline in household size does not entail a simplification of household structures. The percentage of the elderly living with children remains stable while, contrary to modernizations theories, the percentage of adult children co-residing with at least one parent in fact increased. Gender differences in intergenerational co-residence for adults clearly mark distinctions between family systems of different countries (i.e. patrilocal, matrilocal and bilateral systems).

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Presented in Session 39: Living arrangements