Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016
Marital status

Release date: May 3, 2017


'Marital status' refers to whether or not a person is living in a common-law union as well as the legal marital status of those who are not living in a common-law union. All persons aged less than 15 are considered as never married and not living common law.

Statistical unit(s)



Marital status
Marital Status - short title variant for dissemination

Reported in

2016, 2011, 2006, 2001, 1996, 1991, 1986 and 1981. For availability prior to 1981, please refer to Appendix 2.0.

Reported for

Total population

Question number(s)

Derived variable: Questions 4 and 5


Not applicable


Since 2006, 'married' includes legally married same-sex spouses. Since 2001, 'living common law' includes same-sex common-law partners. In the 1981 and 1986 censuses, people living common law could report their common-law status by using one of the response categories in the question on relationship to Person 1. They are identifiable separately on the database back to 1981, even though they were not shown separately in published tables until 1991, the year the question on common-law status was added to the census questionnaire. In the 1971 and 1976 censuses, people living common law were instructed to report their marital status as married. In 1961 and 1966, separated persons were included with married persons.

In census data, persons in private households who were reported as living common law but who do not have their common-law partner present in the household are treated as not living common law. This is also true for persons living in collective dwellings. Persons reported as married who do not have their married spouse present in the same private household or collective dwelling are treated as married for marital status, but not for family characteristics. For example, they may appear as lone parents if their children are present in the household but not their spouse. For information about how household membership is defined in the census, refer to the definition of 'usual place of residence.'

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