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Census family composition

Part A - Short definition:

Refers to the classification of census families according to the number and/or age groups of children at home.

Part B - Detailed definition:

Refers to the classification of census families (that is, married or common-law couples, with or without children, and lone parents with at least one child) by the number and/or age group of children living at home. A couple may be of opposite or same sex. A couple with children may be further classified as either an intact family or stepfamily, and stepfamilies may, in turn, be classified as simple or complex. Children in a census family include grandchildren living with their grandparent(s) but with no parents present.

Census years:

2011, 2006, 2001, 1996, 1991, 1986, 1981, 1976, 1971Footnote 1

Reported for:

Census families in private households

Question number(s):

Derived variable: Questions 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6


Not applicable


In 1971, the concept of 'children' included sons or daughters aged 24 years and younger, and never married. In 1976, the age restriction was removed, and the concept of 'children' was defined as sons or daughters of any age.

Since 2001, the concept of 'children' includes sons or daughters of any age, whether or not they have been married, provided they do not have a married spouse, common-law partner or children living in the household. Grandchildren living in the household with grandparent(s) and no parent(s) present are also considered children in the census family of their grandparent(s).

See Census family for more information on intact families and stepfamilies.

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