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Complex households, a challenge for the study of families through census data

Principles for the construction of a typology, based on the case of French Polynesia

Collection : Documents de travail

274, 2023, 43 pages

The study of household composition through census data relies on the identification of family nuclei:simple households are those containing one family nucleus or a single person, all other with combinations of those are complex households. In  contemporary Western societies, where they only represent a minority of households, this category is not detailed. However, where such forms of coresidence are more common, arises the need for a detailed partition of this very heterogeneous category. This article aims at providing a method for the categorization of complex households. After reviewing criteria from the UN guidelines and the Indian census typology, we decompose the household categories of French Polynesia’s most  recent census (2017). We then take into account the regional features of family organisation in order to produce homogeneous and robust subcategories. The resulting typology offers a detailed classification of households in French Polynesia and allows immediate comparison with the existing typology.
We here propose a data based procedure for producing a detailed taxonomy of family structures in territories where complex households represent a significant part of the population. We also highlighted the need to combine automatic clustering with local specificities to identify categories that are suitable for use in guiding public action.

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