extended family

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A multigenerational group of people related by blood and marriage, often comprising an identifiable head (a patriarch or matriarch), their offspring and spouses, and the children of this second generation; often there are additional relations, cousins, second cousins, etc., all of whom recognize their kinship and possess a high degree of family solidarity. Extended families were the norm in pastoral and agrarian societies but have often broken down into nuclear families (two generations, i.e., marital partners and their children) in industrial societies, where there is usually higher geographical mobility. Extended families transmit traditions about infant and child care, provide mutual support, and can offer a health-sustaining environment to all who belong to them, although sometimes they perpetuate customs that are harmful to health.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.

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