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Indicators of Well-being in Canada


Canadians in Context - Households and Families

How many are we?

  1. Population Size and Growth

Where do we live?

  1. Geographic Distribution

What are our perceptions?

  1. Perceptions and Life Satisfaction



This section provides information on Households, Family Structure, Family Composition, and Working Parents.


Households

There were 12,437,500 households reported in the 2006 Canadian Census. The majority of people lived in family households (69.6%), a significant number lived alone (26.8%), and a smaller number lived with one or more unrelated persons (3.7%). The average size of a household in 2006 was 2.5 people.


This Chart contains data for Types of household, Canada, 2006. Information is available in table below Unrelated-persons household = 4% One-person household = 27% Family household = 70% (percent) Types of household, Canada, 2006

Source: Statistics Canada. Family Portrait: Continuity and Change in Canadian Families and Households in 2006. 2006 Census. (Cat. No. 97-553-XWE2006001). Ottawa, 2007.


Warning: This data table may contain very wide content. Horizontal scrolling may be necessary.

Types of household, Canada, 2006 (percent)
Family householdOne-person householdUnrelated-persons household
69.626.83.7

Family Structure

In 2006, there were 8,651,335 families in Canada.

The structure of Canadian families is becoming more diverse. The traditional family of two parents with children is no longer the norm in Canada. In 2006, legally married couples with children made up 34.6% of all families. Only 25 years earlier, in 1981, 55% of all families were legally married couples with children. While the proportion of traditional families has been declining, the proportion of common-law and lone-parent families is increasing. (For more information on family formation and dissolution and societal changes that have led to these trends, see Family Life.)

The proportion of married couples (with and without children) decreased in the 25 years between 1981 and 2001, from 83.1% in 1981 to 68.6% in 2006. Common-law and lone-parent families represented 15.5 % and 15.9% of all families in 2006. Furthermore, lone-parent families accounted for one out of four Canadian families with children.

This Chart contains data for Family structure, 1981 and 2006. Information is available in table below Lone-parent family (2006) = 15.9 Lone-parent family (1981) = 11.3 Common-law couple (2006) = 15.5 Common-law couple (1981) = 5.6 Married couple (2006) = 68.6 Married couple (1981) = 83.1 (percent) Family structure, 1981 and 2006

Source: Statistics Canada. 2006 Census. (Cat. No. 97-554-XCB2006007). Ottawa, 2007.


Warning: This data table may contain very wide content. Horizontal scrolling may be necessary.

Family structure, 1981 and 2006 (percent)
Married coupleCommon-law coupleLone-parent family
198183.15.611.3
200668.615.515.9

There are some significant differences in the proportions of common-law couples among the provinces and territories. In 2006, Quebec had the highest percentage of common-law families of all the provinces.

All three territories also had a higher proportion of common-law families than the rest of Canada.

This Chart contains data for Common-law families, by region, 1981 and 2006. Information is available in table below NU (2006) = 31.3 NT (2006) = 27.5 NT (1981) = 10.9 YT (2006) = 23.6 YT (1981) = 14.5 BC (2006) = 12.2 BC (1981) = 6.9 AB (2006) = 12.8 AB (1981) = 6.9 SK (2006) = 10.8 SK (1981) = 3.8 MB (2006) = 10.8 MB (1981) = 4.5 ON (2006) = 10.3 ON (1981) = 4.4 QC (2006) = 28.8 QC (1981) = 7.2 NB (2006) = 14.2 NB (1981) = 3.7 NS (2006) = 13.0 NS (1981) = 4.2 PE (2006) = 10.4 PE (1981) = 2.9 NL (2006) = 10.9 NL (1981) = 1.9 CAN (2006) = 15.5 CAN (1981) = 5.6 (percent) Common-law families, by region, 1981 and 2006

Note: For 1981, the Northwest Territories includes Nunavut. In 2001, same-sex couples are included.

Source: Statistics Canada. 2006 Census. (Cat. No. 97-554-XCB2006007). Ottawa, 2007.


Warning: This data table may contain very wide content. Horizontal scrolling may be necessary.

Common-law families, by region, 1981 and 2006 (percent)
CANNLPENSNBQCONMBSKABBCYTNTNU
19815.61.92.94.23.77.24.44.53.86.96.914.510.9null
200615.510.910.413.014.228.810.310.810.812.812.223.627.531.3

Family Composition

The composition of the Canadian family is changing. Families have fewer members, and there are a decreasing number of families with children living at home. The size of the family has declined from an average of 4.3 persons in 1921, to 3.7 in 1971, to 2.5 in 2006. The average number of children at home per family has also dropped from 1.4 in 1981 to 1.1 in 2006.

The number of these families with children living at home was 5,475,990 (61.5% of all families) in 2006. The proportion of common-law families with children increased by 8.5% between 1981 and 2006, while that of families consisting of a married couple with children decreased by 17.8%. Over the last 25 years, the proportion of lone-parent families has increased steadily.

This Chart contains data for Families with children, by family structure, 1981 and 2006. Information is available in table below Lone-parent family (2006) = 25.8 Lone-parent family (1981) = 16.6 Common-law couple (2006) = 11.3 Common-law couple (1981) = 2.8 Married couple (2006) = 62.9 Married couple (1981) = 80.7 (percent) Families with children, by family structure, 1981 and 2006

Source: Statistics Canada. 2006 Census. (Cat. No. 97-554-XCB2006007). Ottawa, 2007.


Warning: This data table may contain very wide content. Horizontal scrolling may be necessary.

Families with children, by family structure, 1981 and 2006 (percent)
Married coupleCommon-law coupleLone-parent family
198180.72.816.6
200662.911.325.8

An increase in stepfamilies has also changed the composition of Canadian families, with various mixes of step-parents, stepchildren, stepsiblings and half siblings. In 2001, there were more than half a million stepfamilies in Canada.[1] About half of the couples in stepfamilies were legally married and half were common law. Among stepfamilies, 10% were couples with the father's children only, 50% were couples with the mother's children only, and 40% were blended families. In 80% of blended families, couples had at least one child together.


Working Parents

Other key changes affecting family life are the increase in the number of women who are participating in the workforce (labour force participation rate) and the growing number of dual-income households. These changes have influenced how family members care for one another and the way that work is organized (e.g., increasing part-time work).

The percentage of women (15 years of age and over) who participate in the workforce has gone from 45.7% in 1976 to 61.8% in 2005. In 2001, 69.8% of women with children at home (regardless of age) and 65.8% of women with children under 2 years of age participated in the labour force.[2

Along with the high proportion of women with children who are working, dual-income couples were the majority (61.9% of couples) in 2001.[3]

Contrary to the situation of women, there has been a decrease in the proportion of males participating in the labour force since the mid-1970s. The labour force participation for males has declined from a high of 77.7% in 1976 to 72.8% in 2005.  


This Chart contains data for Labour force participation rate, by gender, 1976-2005. Information is available in table below 2005 (Men) = 72.8 2004 (Men) = 73.2 2003 (Men) = 73.4 2002 (Men) = 73 2001 (Men) = 72.3 2000 (Men) = 72.4 1999 (Men) = 72.4 1998 (Men) = 72.1 1997 (Men) = 72.2 1996 (Men) = 72.2 1995 (Men) = 72.5 1994 (Men) = 73.1 1993 (Men) = 73.3 1992 (Men) = 73.9 1991 (Men) = 75 1990 (Men) = 76.1 1989 (Men) = 76.8 1988 (Men) = 76.6 1987 (Men) = 76.8 1986 (Men) = 76.8 1985 (Men) = 76.7 1984 (Men) = 76.7 1983 (Men) = 76.9 1982 (Men) = 77 1981 (Men) = 78.4 1980 (Men) = 78.3 1979 (Men) = 78.4 1978 (Men) = 77.9 1977 (Men) = 77.6 1976 (Men) = 77.7 2005 (Women) = 61.8 2004 (Women) = 62 2003 (Women) = 61.9 2002 (Women) = 60.9 2001 (Women) = 59.7 2000 (Women) = 59.4 1999 (Women) = 58.9 1998 (Women) = 58.4 1997 (Women) = 57.8 1996 (Women) = 57.4 1995 (Women) = 57.5 1994 (Women) = 57.5 1993 (Women) = 57.7 1992 (Women) = 57.8 1991 (Women) = 58.4 1990 (Women) = 58.5 1989 (Women) = 58.1 1988 (Women) = 57.4 1987 (Women) = 56.5 1986 (Women) = 55.7 1985 (Women) = 54.9 1984 (Women) = 53.8 1983 (Women) = 53 1982 (Women) = 52.1 1981 (Women) = 52 1980 (Women) = 50.6 1979 (Women) = 49.4 1978 (Women) = 47.9 1977 (Women) = 46.5 1976 (Women) = 45.7 (percent) Labour force participation rate, by gender, 1976-2005

Source: Statistics Canada. Labour Force Survey. Ottawa, 2005.


Warning: This data table may contain very wide content. Horizontal scrolling may be necessary.

Labour force participation rate, by gender, 1976-2005 (percent)
197619771978197919801981198219831984198519861987198819891990199119921993199419951996199719981999200020012002200320042005
Men77.777.677.978.478.378.47776.976.776.776.876.876.676.876.17573.973.373.172.572.272.272.172.472.472.37373.473.272.8
Women45.746.547.949.450.65252.15353.854.955.756.557.458.158.558.457.857.757.557.557.457.858.458.959.459.760.961.96261.8

Footnotes

  1. The Vanier Institute of the Family. 2004. Profiling Canada's families III. Ottawa.

    [Back to Text]
  2. Statistics Canada. Canada's Workforce: Paid Work. 2001 Census. Catalogue no. 95F0378XIE2001004.

    [Back to Text]
  3. Statistics Canada. Income of Individuals, Families and Households. 2001 Census. Catalogue no. 97F0020XIE2001097.

    [Back to Text]

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Date Modified:
2014-07-31