A Tale of Two Villages: Modernization and Household Change in India’s Deccan Plateau

Etienne Breton1
1Princeton University

I use a mixed-methods approach combining demographic and ethnographic data to compare processes of modernization and household change in two villages in India’s Deccan Plateau. In the first village, stable joint households have become extinct in recent years. Further analyses suggest that frequent labor migrations and slow economic growth largely explain this state of affairs. In the second village, the data show a recent increase in the prevalence of joint households. The expansion of irrigation created economic opportunities in both farming and other industries. With land revenues soaring, many young men jointly invested in land with their father and brother(s) instead of purchasing separate houses. These findings suggest that agricultural improvements and the revitalization of the village economy have stimulated the formation of joint households. Taken together, both villages’ stories illuminate mechanisms by which economic growth and modernization can both raise and lower the incentive for joint coresidence.