The series moves on from the urban consumer segment E7 profiled last week to segment E8, in which the chief wage earners are school-educated businessmen or skilled workers, in their older years, and living without their grown-up children.

This is a relatively smaller segment compared with the three E segments discussed in the last few weeks, yet its 1.8 million households make it the ninth largest. More than four million people live in E8 households. Since the children have moved out of the house to live their own independent lives, the chief wage earner generally presides over a small family, 82% having just one or two members. In other cases, the members would include relatives or friends staying in the same house, using these homes as accommodation while they work or study in the city. The chief wage earner is in his older years; 70% are over the age of 55. While three-quarters are still married, 17% are either widowed or divorced, living alone.

Also See | Indicus Analytics Research (Graphic)

The educational profile is relatively low—60% have completed schooling, the highest level within this group. The occupational profile is diverse, with an equal mix of those in regular salaried jobs and those who are self-employed. There is, however, a larger percentage—41%—of chief wage earners who are working in contractual jobs. While age goes against them at this stage in life, these men and women have to continue working at whatever job they can get, with little security and no regular income.

Also Read | Previous articles in the Indicus Indian Consumer Spectrum Series

As far as earnings go, in fact, 86% of the households depend on just one member to bring in money. The saving grace here is that rent expenses are low—nearly 70% own their homes. With small households, the median annual income is also that much lower—Rs86,900—and a lot goes in medical expenses. These households spend 8.5% of their budget on medical expenses, the second highest share among all urban segments, after G5, which has been taken up earlier in this series.

Also See | E8 Segment (Graphic)

When it comes to health, this segment, along with G5, forms the most vulnerable set of urban households. The reasons are obvious: These two groups essentially are comprised of older citizens, with low education and income, and little family support.

The public health system being what it is, most patients prefer to go to private clinics—this is more costly of course. But expenditure estimates blur the true picture of health—people often do not report ailments; this may be out of ignorance of the possible severity or because the effort of going to a doctor by itself is costly or inconvenient.

In fact, National Sample Survey Organisation data shows that nearly half the urban poor households choose not to go for treatment, even when they know they are suffering. Though they are forced to go to private clinics, there is a high degree of distrust here as well; there is a prevalent feeling that tests are unnecessary and recommended regular tests for diseases such as diabetes, for instance, are not considered worth the money spent. To some extent, this is because patients do not understand the implications of not monitoring a chronic disease, but to some extent, the distrust is well founded, given the high level of malpractice in private clinics, where diagnostics is seen as a money-making exercise. Health financingsystems, through public or private insurance schemes, need to tie up with better quality healthcare even in urbanareas, but that is another story altogether.

Indicus Analytics Research graphic by Shyamal Banerjee / Mint

E8 Segment graphic by Ahmed Raza Khan / Mint

—Indicus Indian Consumer Spectrum Series-XXIV

This series is brought to you by research firm Indicus Analytics Pvt. Ltd