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Families, households and marital status


September 19, 2012 – Anne Milan, Sociologist, presents a national overview of the family, household and marital status data, 2011 Census.

Families, households and marital status

Length: 4:29 minutes

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September 19, 2012

Families, households and marital status data
2011 Census

Anne Milan
Statistics Canada

The 2011 Census of Population data on families, households and marital status were released today.

In this video, I will be talking briefly about the growing diversity of census families, how children fit into this picture, and, finally, the changing Canadian household.

The term 'Census family' includes:

Census Families

Four of five Canadians aged 15 years or older who lived in private households in 2011 were part of a Census family. The rest of this population lived outside of census families, either alone, with non-relatives only, such as room-mates or with other relatives.

Married couples continued to decrease as a proportion of all census families, while the shares of common-law couples and lone-parent families have increased. Married couples represented 67% of census families in 2011.

Common-law couples accounted for close to 17% and lone-parent families made up just over 16%. For the first time in 2011, there were more common-law families than lone-parent families in Canada.

{Visual}: A graph shows the proportion of different types of census families in Canada:

Most couples were opposite-sex, while same-sex couples made up less than 1% of all couples.

The period between 2006 and 2011 marks the first five-year period during which same-sex couples could legally marry, following the legalization of same-sex marriage across Canada in July 2005.

Approximately one of every three same-sex couples were married in 2011. This is nearly double the proportion recorded in 2006.


Canadian children aged 14 and under are growing up in more diverse families than in the past. In 2011, 64% of children living in private households in Canada, lived with married parents, a smaller share than in previous years. The percentage of children that lived with common-law parents has been increasing in past years, making up 16% in 2011.

Close to two in every 10 children lived with lone parents in 2011, and most lone parents were mothers.

The 2011 Census counted both stepfamilies and foster children for the first time, giving a more detailed picture of Canadian families.

One in ten children aged 14 and under lived in stepfamilies, and one in every 200 children was reported as a foster child.


The 2011 Census shows us that Canadian households have been getting smaller and that the proportion of households comprised of couples with children has decreased.

In 2011, households consisting of one person accounted for 28% of all households; about a three-fold increase from 9% in 1961. During the same period, the share of large households containing five people or more decreased from 32% to 8%.

{Visual}: A line graph illustrates the growth of one-person households between 1961 and 2011 and the decline of households with five people or more during that same period.

For the first time in 2011, there were slightly more one-person households than couple households with children aged 24 and under.

Thanks for watching this quick overview. You're welcome to visit the Statistics Canada website for a more in-depth look at these data and for more information on your municipality, province or territory.

If you have any questions, just ask me! I will be taking part in a live chat session on Friday, September 21, 2012, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time. Visit the website and click this icon to register.

{Visual}: Statistics Canada's website appears, highlighting the icon for the "Chat with an expert" module in the right navigation menu.

{Visual}: The image fades into the Canada wordmark against a black background. The video fades to black.

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