The measurement and prevalence of developmental thinking about the family: evidence from Nepal

Arland Thornton, University of Michigan
Dirgha J. Ghimire, University of Michigan
Colter Mitchell, University of Michigan

This paper evaluates the theory presented by Thornton (2001, 2005) that the interrelated ideas of societal development and modernity are understood and believed by ordinary people and have influence on their values and behavior. Using both qualitative and quantitative data collected in Nepal in 2003-2004 we examine the knowledge and beliefs of ordinary people, asking the extent to which they understand and believe the ideas of development and modernity and use these ideas in evaluating the world around them, including demographic and family behavior. An important outcome of this study is its confirmation of the ability to measure the complex concepts of development in a survey conducted with a broad spectrum of people in Nepal. There is also evidence supporting the contention that developmental thinking has been disseminated widely in Nepal, with large fractions of people understanding and endorsing developmental models. This evidence is consistent with the expectation that developmental thinking has been widely disseminated around the world and is related to people’s beliefs and values about family life.

  See paper

Presented in Session 70: Value changes and family formation