Families in Southeast and South Asia

Wei Jun Jean Yeung, Sonalde Desai, Gavin W. Jones

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    90 Citations (Scopus)


    Southeast and South Asia are home to one-third of the world's population. Their great economic and cultural diversity makes generalization about family patterns and trends hazardous. We review literature on trends in fertility, marriage, divorce, and living arrangements in the past half century. The explanations for these trends focus on structural and ideological changes related to socioeconomic development; cultural factors including kinship system, religion, and ethnicity; and public policies. While the impact of rapid modernization and related ideational changes are evident, there are also changes - or a lack thereof - that cannot be explained by development and may be attributable to historical and cultural factors that have shaped family norms in the region. The following trends are evident: (a) fertility is declining and age at marriage is rising, although teenage and arranged marriages remain common in South Asia, (b) a majority of the elderly continue to live with or are supported by their children, and (c) divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing remain relatively rare.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)469-495
    Number of pages27
    JournalAnnual Review of Sociology
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2018


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