Document Type : Research Paper


Department of Demography, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.


Over the past decade, various and heterogeneous types of households have emerged in Iran, resulting from economic, social, and demographic changes. One of the most significant demographic changes in the country is the increase in the frequency of female-headed households. Comparing the establishment of female-headed families in developed and developing countries indicates that social, economic, and demographic factors have different effects on these types of households. Therefore, through a Critical study of all existing research, which has focused on central averages and disregards micro-level changes, it is possible to establish a clear foundation for policies affecting female-headed families. Focusing on female-headed families, as a distinct group, this study examined their similarities and differences in social, economic, and demographic aspects at the county level, and studied their distribution within the theoretical frameworks of second demographic transition and inequalities concerning drive and pressure mechanisms. Based on the current theoretical and experimental literature, this study classifies the existing components in terms of their role in the formation of female-headed families as "driver" and "pressure." Voluntary drivers of the feminization of household headship were analyzed using the second demographic transition theory and the forced pressures of feminization of household headship were investigated in the context of inequality theory.
This paper examines the role of driver and pressure mechanisms on the distribution of female-headed households in 429 Iranian counties in 2016 using data from the Statistical Center of Iran and spatial autocorrelation (Moran’s I and Getis index), K-mean clustering and ordinary least squares regression methods. The results of spatial autocorrelation revealed that southeast counties have the highest concentration of female-headed households, while the lowest concentration is observed in northwest counties extending in a line to the center. According to the spatial clustering model and the hierarchical exploratory analysis method on the variables of the percentage of female-headed households, economic, demographic, and social status, the counties are divided into five clusters with the smallest difference from the central average in each cluster and the greatest difference with the next cluster in the best case: cluster 1 includes only three counties and is considered an outlier;  cluster 2 contains the north-west, south, and north-east counties and affected by economic drivers; cluster 3 contains central and northern counties and affected by social and demographic drivers; cluster 4 contains western and southwestern counties and affected by demographic and economic pressures; and cluster 5 contains southeastern and eastern counties and affected by social and economic pressures.
Furthermore, the results of ordinary least squares regression revealed that the covariates explain 75% of fluctuations in the frequency of female-headed families. The three economic components of the percentage of jobless families, employment rate of urban women, and economic participation rate had a positive and significant impact (at an error level of less than 0.001) on the development of female-headed households. The socio-demographic components of the percentage of widowed women, early marriage, percentage of divorced women, and the literacy rate of women had a positive and significant effect, and the two components of the percentage of the ever-married population and the percentage of the urban population had a negative and significant effect (at an error level of 0.001) on the formation of female-headed households in counties of Iran.
Generally, Social, economic, and demographic changes have a relatively strong impact on the formation of female-headed households via two driving and pressuring mechanisms. As a result, empowering women in the context of the second demographic transition can increase these households in districts (central and north counties) influenced by the driving mechanism.  Continued social, economic, and demographic pressures can increase these households in districted (southeast counties) affected by the pressuring mechanisms. Thus, policymaking based on the role of these mechanisms may help the state to empower and support these families.


Main Subjects

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