Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This dissertation first identifies the household cycle as the core concept in formal household demography, and presents a simple model of the determinants of the size distribution and the average size of the household. In this model, the proximate processes which govern the end points of the household cycle are fission, fusion, and fission-fusion of households and the joint mortality of household members. The growth of the household during its cycle is, on the other hand, influenced by events occurring to individual household members given that the household is viable. Analytical models then can be developed for the study of the household using the concept of the household cycle as the unit of analysis.;From the perspective of the household cycle, then, Ryder's model of the average size of the household cycle is first formalized, and then extended to two cases: the extended family household with and without a foster mother. Expressions of average household size are determined in terms of various demographic parameters such as the gross level of fertility, parental survival, and the net reproduction rate. Illustrative results are provided for three hypothetical societies described in the classical theory of demographic transition.;In addition, a microsimulation model of Canadian household cycles is developed in order to examine the sensitivity of average household size to different demographic parameters associated with the formation, growth, and extinction of households. An interesting and counterintuitive finding of this research is that the overall influence of mortality would depend on the net outcome of the two contradictory effects at the two levels of analysis--the household and the individual. Fertility increase necessarily leads to an increase in the average size of the household, keeping other factors constant. Nuclear family household formation, the last component in the simulation model, on the other hand, checks the growth of households and lowers the average size of the household.;It is finally suggested that more varieties of household organization could be modeled using the analytical approaches developed in this Dissertation One could also use the microsimulation model to study the demographic component of the size distribution of households.



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