Families whose chief wage earners are in their mature years form the largest sub-segment of urban SEC C households. These households are large in size, typically with five or more members—the quintessential Indian joint family. Even though children may be grown up and married, they have not moved out—in most cases due to a paucity of affordable options. These households, therefore, have a wide range of demand for goods and services, with many generations living together—senior citizens, young adults, children and babies, each having their own particular needs. There could even be relatives from smaller towns or villages staying in these households in the cities for education or work.
The chief wage earner in these households is a skilled worker, with a basic school education, and generally above the age of 45. The sector with the highest share of employment in this segment is trade, wholesale and retail, while manufacturing takes second spot. Public administration and transport are the next two dominant sectors. In most cases, the chief wage earner holds a regular salaried job, while just a little over one-third of them are self-employed, with their own businesses. Among those who have jobs, more than one-third are employed in the government, and in public or large private sector companies.
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In more than half the households, two or more members contribute to the income. These earning members are usually not the spouses, most of whom continue to be homemakers. Kerala and Tamil Nadu stand out with a higher share of employed spouses among the larger states, while all north-east states and Goa have high shares as well. This is more a reflection of the society in these states rather than any superior educational or skill profiles. In general, spouses have lower educational profiles than husbands—a little over one-third have just completed primary schooling. The younger generation would of course have much higher education levels than the seniors here; access to schools and colleges in urban areas is much better than before, and a basic college degree is now seen to be an imperative in the middle class.
Given that there are more earning members and that the chief wage earner is well settled in his career path, compared with the younger sub-segments in urban SEC C households, there is a larger share of affluent households here. Close to 5% of the households in this segment earn more than Rs 10 lakh per annum. The largest number of these affluent households are to be found in Delhi, Thane, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. Cities in Gujarat—Ahmedabad, Surat, Gandhinagar and Vadodara—rank higher than Pune, which comes at 14th in the ranking of affluent households in this segment.
This segment has the lowest share of rented houses among all three SEC C sub-segments. Penetration of cars is double that in the youngest segment, as by now earnings have stabilized and savings have been built up. This sub-segment also has higher ownership of other consumer durables, especially at the higher-end. Some cities—Chandigarh and Panipat—stand at the top of LCD/plasma TV penetration, while Gurgaon tops in microwaves.
In this sub-segment, time spent on the Internet is more than that spent by households whose chief wage earners are in their middle years. Television continues to reign at the top of all media preference, while newspapers slip to third place. Clearly, the impact of elder, grown-up children in these households shows here.
Graphic by Paras Jain/Mint