MADURAI: The Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 data released for rural areas alone on Friday has revealed that Tamil Nadu has the highest number of female headed households in which there are no adult male member in the age group of 16 to 59 in the country.
The data indicates that a large number of female headed families may be mostly single member families.
In absolute numbers, there are 6,89,156 households under this “Female headed households with no adult male member between age 16 to 59 “category, which is one of the seven criteria that will make a household to be evaluated for deprivation as per the SECC. This is 6.85 per cent of the total number of rural households in Tamil Nadu which is around 1 crore.
Tamil Nadu with 17.6 lakh households also has the third highest number of “female headed households” in the rural areas, next only to Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal in the country. The data also shows that deprivation is high among these female headed households with the income of the highest earning member being less than Rs 5,000.
Already, the data released on female headed households in 2012 based on the 2011 population census showed that the percentage of female headed households in Tamil Nadu, in rural and urban areas combined, have increased by around 2 percentage points to 16.04 pc from 13.92 pc in 2001.
Although traditionally, the increased life expectancy of women, which may lead them to live alone in their old age after husband’s death, is attributed to the large number of female headed families, demographic experts say that migration, increased divorce rate and rising number of nuclear families could also be a few contributing factors for the increase.
D Jayaraj, a Professor with the Madras Institute of Development Studies, said that though a comprehensive study correlating the two was not yet available, the divorce rate which was seemingly going high in TN would be adding to the numbers of female headed households with no adult members.
He added that migration, whether it was within the country or abroad, will also play an important role.