Volume 47 - Article 6 | Pages 143–160  

Household structure across childhood in four lower- and middle-income countries

By Brigid Cakouros, Sarah Reynolds


Objective: Using data from developing countries, we determine the proportion of children in these samples that experience stable household composition over childhood and the proportion of children that experience each stable household type. We also describe the most frequent household structure trajectories among children who have experienced household transitions.

Methods: We apply sequence analysis to data from the Young Lives longitudinal study implemented in Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam. This study follows over 1,800 children in each country and provides information on adult household members’ relationships to the focal child at five time points between ages 0 and 15 years.

Results: In all countries, less than half of children had a stable household structure throughout childhood. Coresidence with a grandparent is typical in early childhood, with a later transition into household types without grandparents, although this pattern was not as prominent in Ethiopia. In all countries, households with stepfathers were least prevalent of the various household structures considered.

Conclusions: Future research and family policies supporting child development in developing countries should consider family complexity and household transitions in a longitudinal framework.

Contribution: Research indicates that household structure is influential to child development, yet little has been quantitatively documented from non-Western countries about the trajectories of household structure that children experience.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Household transitions between ages 5 and 15 and educational outcomes: Fathers and grandparents in Peru
Volume 46 - Article 14

Family structure and child development in Chile: A longitudinal analysis of household transitions involving fathers and grandparents
Volume 38 - Article 58

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