The rise in nuclear family in modern society
An early description of nuclear family was given by George Peter Murdock, an American anthropologist. According to him a nuclear family is a social group characterized by common residence, economic cooperation and reproduction. It contains adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship, and one or more children, own or adopted, of the sexually cohabiting adults. Over the years alternative definitions have evolved to include family units headed by same-sex parents and single-parent households. In other words a nuclear family is basically two generations of a family living together in one household.
In the last few decades the Indian society has been witnessing a gradual change in the structure of family formation. There has been a gradual disintegration of the joint family system and emergence of ‘nuclear family’. Nuclear families in urban India are often smaller in size, with at the most three to four members with no senior citizens. With the rise in the emergence of nuclear families, there has been a rapid change in the way families operate. The concept of many family members living together and sharing responsibilities or utilities is being replaced by more individuals who believe in financial independence and personal freedom in terms of lifestyle choices.
According to various sociologists the rise of nuclear families is consistent with rapid urbanization and industrialization. With this, the number of individuals becoming owners of huge assets has increased. There has been a significantly high demand for the housing industry as more and more financially independent individuals have started moving out of joint families to start their own nuclear families. A recent Morgan Stanley report predicted a 16% compounded annual growth rate in real estate sector over the next decade.
Along with an increased demand for separate housing, the preferences while purchasing homes have also changed, the needs of children being a key factor in the decision making process. Most nuclear families opt for apartments which are compact yet space-efficient rather than standalone properties, preferably in close proximity with workplaces, schools, healthcare facilities, shopping areas, etc. Thus the housing industry has been able to flourish with the rise in the number of nuclear families.
Although the number of nuclear families has increased, many Indians still prefer to stay in joint families. Both types of families have their own advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately it depends on the situation and preferences of individuals whether they choose to have a nuclear family or a joint family.