Household Size and Structure in Iran: 1976-2006

Akbar Aghajanian*, 1, Vaida Thompson2
1 Department of Sociology, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, NC 28301, USA
2 Department of Psychology (emerita), University of North Carolina, Chapter Hill, NC 27514, USA

© 2013 Lopez and Miller;

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Sociology, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, NC 28301, USA; Tel: 910-672-2927; Fax: 910-672-1378; E-mail:


In addition to significant political changes, Iran has experienced a multitude of demographic and economic changes during the last four decades (1976-2006). First, there have been somewhat dramatic changes in marriage and reproduction during this period, with a sharp lowering of fertility to replacement level, an expansion of a strong rural public health program that has increased child survival, increase in age of marriage for both males and females, and an increase in the divorce rate. These changes took place in the context of structural changes in the society, with an increase in urbanization from below 40 percent in 1976 to 68 percent in 2006 and a marked transference in the economy from an agricultural base to manufacturing and service.

This paper reports on the analysis of this household transition in Iran during the 1976-2006 period in the context of other changes experienced in this period. We find that despite significant fertility transition along with other demographic and social structural changes, which are expected to lead to conjugal family patterns, as of 2006, a large proportion of households in Iran continue to have five or more members and there has been very modest decline in the share of extended households. It is not clear if this situation is due to the selectivity in continuity of large and extended coresidential households or the result of housing pressure particularly in urban areas.

Keywords: Family, household composition, Iran.