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Lifeboat versus corporate ethic: social and demographic implications of stem and joint families


  • Das Gupta, Monica


We contrast stem and joint family systems, to show how differences in norms of inheritance and residence profoundly influence our values and social constructs. They shape how people evaluate each other and patterns of conflict and cooperation within and between generations. Through this, they influence many fundamental aspects of social organization and behaviour. These influence health outcomes through categorizing people into those whose health is encouraged to prosper or to fail. It also influences a wide range of other outcomes, including strategies of household resource management; migration; ways of exploiting commercial opportunities and the operation of civil society. A number of hypotheses are developed about the nature of these interrelationships, some of which are substantiated empirically and others which can be tested.

Suggested Citation

  • Das Gupta, Monica, 1999. "Lifeboat versus corporate ethic: social and demographic implications of stem and joint families," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 173-184, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:49:y:1999:i:2:p:173-184

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    Cited by:

    1. Tarun Jain, 2014. "Where There Is a Will: Fertility Behavior and Sex Bias in Large Families," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 49(2), pages 393-423.
    2. Mikołaj Szołtysek & Siegfried Gruber & Rembrandt D. Scholz & Barbara Zuber Goldstein, 2009. "Social change and family change in a Central European urban context: Rostock 1819-1867," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2009-039, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    3. Keera Allendorf, 2020. "Another Gendered Demographic Dividend: Adjusting to a Future without Sons," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 46(3), pages 471-499, September.
    4. Monica Das Gupta & Jiang Zhenghua & Li Bohua & Xie Zhenming & Woojin Chung & Bae Hwa-Ok, 2003. "Why is Son preference so persistent in East and South Asia? a cross-country study of China, India and the Republic of Korea," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(2), pages 153-187.
    5. Keera Allendorf, 2012. "Women’s Agency and the Quality of Family Relationships in India," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 31(2), pages 187-206, April.
    6. Ding, Feng & Du, Limin & Shi, Jinchuan, 2020. "Lucky to have a sister: The effects of unmarried sister on brother outcomes in late imperial China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C).
    7. Varghese, Rekha & Roy, Manan, 2019. "Coresidence with mother-in-law and maternal anemia in rural India," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 226(C), pages 37-46.
    8. Rubiana Chamarbagwala, 2011. "Sibling composition and selective gender-based survival bias," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 24(3), pages 935-955, July.
    9. Ying Li & Quanbao Jiang, 2017. "The Intergenerational Effect and Second Childbirth: Survey Findings from the Shaanxi Province of China," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 133(2), pages 669-691, September.
    10. Bastian Mönkediek & Hilde Bras, 2018. "Family Systems and Fertility Intentions: Exploring the Pathways of Influence," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 34(1), pages 33-57, February.
    11. Bastian Mönkediek, 2020. "Patterns of spatial proximity and the timing and spacing of bearing children," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 42(16), pages 461-496.

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