Families, households and marital status: Key results from the 2016 Census — Statistics Canada

Statistics Canada has released its study of Canadian families, households, and marital status and the results reveal a dramatic shift in the makeup of Canadian family.

The 2016 Census data show that, today, proportionally fewer households are composed of a ‘mom, dad and kids’ family and more people are living alone, as part of a couple without children, or as part of a multigenerational family.

Some highlights include:

  • One-person households became the most common type of household for the first time in 2016, surpassing couples with children, which were down from 31.5% of all households in 2001 to 26.5% in 2016. In comparison, the percentage of one-person households was 25.7% in 2001.
  • Among seniors (people aged 65 and older), about one-third (33.0%) of women were living alone in 2016, compared with 17.5% of men. However, the proportion of senior women living alone was down compared with 2001 (38.3%), while that of senior women living in a couple (married or common-law) rose, from 44.4% in 2001 to 51.4% in 2016.
  • From 2011 to 2016, the number of couples living without children rose faster (+7.2%) than the number of couples with children (+2.3%). As a result, the share of couples living with at least one child fell from 56.7% in 2001 to 51.1% in 2016—the lowest level on record.
  • Married couples represented the majority of couples in 2016, although common-law unions are becoming more frequent in every province and territory. In 2016, over one-fifth of all couples (21.3%) were living common law, more than three times the share in 1981 (6.3%).
  • In 2016, the proportion of multigenerational households—households that include at least three generations of the same family—was only 2.9% (403,810 households). However, from 2001 to 2016, multigenerational households rose the fastest (+37.5%) of all household types, well above the increase of 21.7% for all households. In 2016, 6.3% of Canada’s population living in private households, or 2.2 million people, lived in a multigenerational household.
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