Mumbai/New Delhi: The fruits of three decades of rapid growth in the world’s sixth largest economy are finally beginning to show up in households across India. The penetration of several consumer durables has seen a rapid increase over the past decade, data from successive rounds of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) shows.

The penetration of refrigerators in the country has roughly doubled over the past decade to reach 30% in 2015-16, the data shows. The share of households owning a television has increased 20 percentage points over the past decade to reach 66%.

The latest NFHS surveyed more than 600,000 households in 2015-16, and the previous round surveyed more than 100,000 households in 2005-06. The latest round, for the first time, provides district-wise representative data on household characteristics for 640 Indian districts. A Mint analysis of the unit-level NFHS data shows that districts along the west coast, districts in the extreme south, and those in the north-west have the greatest concentration of households owning consumer durables such as refrigerators and washing machines (Charts 1A and 1B).

The ownership of TV is more widespread, the analysis shows (Chart 1C). All estimates have been weighted by the number of individuals in households in the analysis to account for the differences in household sizes across income classes.

Among all consumer durables, the ownership of washing machines appears to be the most concentrated. The top 50 districts account for 43.8% of all washing machine owners in India, despite being home to only 17% of Indians. India’s six largest urban agglomerations—Delhi-NCR, Mumbai-Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Bengaluru— alone account for a third of all washing machine owners, the analysis shows (Chart 2).

Mumbai-suburban, Thane, and Raigad districts have been considered part of the Mumbai-Pune urban agglomeration. Kancheepuram, Thiruvallur, and Chennai districts have been considered part of the Chennai urban agglomeration. Delhi-NCR is the biggest urban agglomeration of all comprising 30 districts spread across four states, and accounting for 5% of the country’s population.

After TV, ownership of refrigerator is widespread. Half of general category households (excluding Muslims) own a refrigerator, and a quarter of them own a washing machine. Among Adivasis, 10% own a refrigerator, and 3% a washing machine. Among Dalits, a fifth owns a refrigerator while less than a tenth owns a washing machine, the analysis shows (Chart 3).

Among states, Punjab has the highest share of refrigerator owners (87%) followed by Kerala (73%). Punjab also has the highest share (55%) of washing machine owners followed by Haryana (51%). TV ownership is the highest in Tamil Nadu (96%) followed by Punjab (94%), Kerala (93%) and Himachal Pradesh (90%).

Among the top urban agglomerations, Chennai region has the highest share of TV owners (98%) and refrigerator owners (69%). The share of AC/cooler owners is the highest in Delhi-NCR (55%), followed by Hyderabad region. The share of washing machine owners is roughly similar in Delhi-NCR and Chennai regions, with roughly half the households owning a washing machine in both urban agglomerations.

This is the third of a four-part series on India’s new geography of wealth. The concluding part will map access to household amenities across the country.

Close