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Economic family status

Part A - Short definition:

Refers to the classification of the population according to whether or not the persons are members of an economic family.

Part B - Detailed definition:

Refers to the classification of the population according to whether or not the persons are members of an economic family. (See Figure 17.)

Economic family persons refer to two or more household members who are related to each other by blood, marriage, common-law, adoption or a foster relationship, and thereby constitute an economic family.

Economic family persons can be further classified into one of the following two categories:

a) Economic family reference person

In each economic family, one person is designated as the reference person. In couple families, either opposite-sex or same-sex, the first person in the couple listed on the questionnaire is the economic family reference person. In lone-parent families, the male or female lone parent is the reference person. In all other economic families, the reference person is either a man or a woman not in a census family.

b) Economic family members

Persons in the economic family other than the economic family reference person are classified as the married spouse or the common-law partner of the reference person, children of the reference person (including grandchildren), or other economic family members (including foster children). Children of the reference person may be of any age or marital status.

Persons not in economic families refer to household members who do not belong to an economic family, including persons living alone.

Census years:

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

Reported for:

Population in private households

Question number(s):

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


Not applicable


Prior to 2011, the male married spouse or common-law partner was designated as the economic family reference person in opposite-sex couples, in order to produce historically comparable low-income statistics.

In 2006, grandchildren of the reference person, in the absence of the mother or father in the household, were considered as children of the reference person. In 2011, all grandchildren of the reference person are considered as children. Foster children are considered as other economic family members as of 2006.

In 1971, published family statistics included families living in private households (including those enumerated outside Canada) and all collective households.

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