The popular image of a traditional Chinese household is one of a large kin group composed of multiple-family units. However, reports on family size in China's past suggest that the average household size was not large in ancient times. Using population registers for Dunhuang and Turfan from the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), this article is the first serious attempt to analyze household structures in ancient China. While a high proportion of simple-family households were recorded in the registers, a significant number of complex households suggests that the distribution of Chinese households was bimodal. This pattern fits neither the model considered as typical for Western families nor that for Eastern families. Other issues covered include the frequency of living alone, the presence of slaves, the distribution of household heads by age and sex, and women's marriage patterns.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences(all)