The average urban Indian household has shrunk from 4.85 people to 4.44 since 2005

The average urban Indian household is shrinking. It has shrunk from 4.85 people in 2005-06 to 4.44 people in 2015-16. The norm in big cities has changed from multi-generational or joint family homes to nuclear families and further to single and two-people unit homes. These could be older people living alone or even unmarried people. 

A good 15.6% of the overall urban households in the country are single-people and two-people units. This number has increased by 70% in 10 years, between 2005-06 and 2015-16, according to two nationally representative surveys—India Human Development Survey (IHDS) 2005-06 and National Family Health Survey (NFHS) for 2015-16.

The changing family structures reflect in our urban homes. For instance, over the last five years, apartment sizes have reduced between 15-27% in the top seven cities of National Capital Region, Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Bengaluru, Pune, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai, according to Anarock Property Consultants.


To be sure, digital connectivity, with data being available in abundance and at affordable prices, has impacted our changing lifestyles. Youth today prefer virtual interactions over real ones. Nearly one in every four people interviewed across Stockholm, Mumbai, New York and Shanghai by an IKEA Life at Home 2017 study thought that it’s more important to have good Wi-Fi than to have social spaces at home. 

Moreover, nearly one-fifth of the respondents thought it’s more important to keep in contact with friends online than to invite them to their homes. Yet, the story is not just of mindless consumption. Or even about digital’s influence on our lives. On the contrary, the Ikea study noted that consumers today are becoming more mindful of things at home. They want fewer things given the smaller living spaces and an increased concern for the environment. Moreover, messy homes, said the study, are a source of irritation and a big reason for arguments. This is even truer for youth.