Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021
Economic family

Release date: November 17, 2021


Economic family refers to a group of two or more persons who live in the same dwelling and are related to each other by blood, marriage, common‑law union, adoption or a foster relationship.

By definition, all persons who are members of a census family are also members of an economic family. Examples of the broader concept of economic family include the following: two co‑resident census families who are related to one another are considered one economic family; co‑resident siblings who are not members of a census family are considered as one economic family; and, nieces or nephews living with aunts or uncles are considered one economic family.

Statistical unit(s)


Reported in

2021, 2016 and 2011; 2006, 2001 and 1996 (20% sample); 1991, 1986 and 1981. For availability prior to 1981, refer to Appendix 2.1.

Reported for

Population in private households

Question number(s)

Derived variable: Questions 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7


Not applicable


The economic family and its associated classifications and variables are derived according to responses to the questions on gender, date of birth, marital status, common‑law status and relationship to Person 1. In addition, consideration is given to the order in which household members are listed on the questionnaire. Prior to 2021, sex was used instead of gender.

The way that economic families are classified by economic family structure depends on who is selected as the economic family reference person. As described in the classification of economic family status, the reference person is determined through procedures specific to each survey (or census). The criteria for determining who is the economic family reference person changed slightly in the 2016 Census. For more information, refer to the Families Reference Guide, Census of Population, 2016.

Related 2021 data products

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