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The Mauritian Family

Family structure in Mauritius has started changing from extended to mostly nuclear structure and other
different types. The average family size has fallen from 5.9 in 1960 to 4.4 in 1990 as per the National
development Plan.

Prior to industrialization, in 1960's the Mauritian economy was based on sugar production. Families had
to have many children who would eventually help in sugarcane fields and also due to high infant
mortality, birth rate was rater high to ensure the family lineage. At that time Mauritius was considered
as patriarchal society with only boys sent to school as they were considered as the future bread winner
of the family as compared to girls who were to be married afterwards and sent to her husband's place to
work as housewife and also because education was paid at that time. One of the reason for change in
family structure at that time was considered to be family control due to economic necessities and also
with the advice made by Ministry of Health, the Mauritius Family Planning Association. This led to a drop
in birth rate of 36% in the 1960's.

Later on, the industrialization period brought about a huge change where women started taking on jobs
that were available while still being responsible of their household task due to the patriarchal Mauritian
society at that time. Most of the family structure changed from being extended to becoming nuclear,
making family life hectic with parents having to work while taking care of household work, allowing for
little time to spare for children. This also led to women in family to experience considerable fatigue and
mental stress with all the work they had to take care of which in turn became the root cause of
domestic violence in the Mauritian family with parents needing to make more money. This mainly
results because it was considered that women's job was to look after the house and men's job to be the
breadwinner but with the working women being more successful that the men, it was an attack to the
men's ego as he was being challenged in his role as bread winner of the family. This caused continued
violence in the family and was considered as main cause of divorce suicide and child abuse.

Finally this change in family structure and lifestyle brought about a change in the attitude towards
marriage in the 1990's till now. It became a new trend to postpone marriage and having smaller family
mostly becoming nuclear type family. Having both parents working and with nuclearisation of the family
structure, parents started giving their responsibility of looking after their children to childcare of to
relatives and neighbor.