More Canadians living alone and without children, census figures show

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[Lonely Canadians bowl alone. This is mainly attributed to a combination of an aging population, especially elderly women living alone, and to younger generations who are delaying the age at which they marry and have children. *RON*]

CBC, 2 August 2017

More Canadians living alone and without children, census figures show
Canadians are living increasingly alone and without children, according to the latest census figures released by Statistics Canada.

The number of Canadians living alone increased to its greatest share since Confederation and was the most common type of household in the country in 2016, representing 28.2 per cent of all households in Canada.

That is an increase from 25.7 per cent in 2001. Fully 13.9 per cent of the Canadian adult population now live alone. That figure stood at just 1.8 per cent in 1951.

According to Statistics Canada, this puts Canada well in line with the United Kingdom and the United States, though countries like France and Germany have more single-person households.

The single-person household is most common in Quebec at 33.3 per cent, while British Columbia and Nova Scotia also have more single-person households than the Canadian average. The lowest rates could be found in Nunavut (18.9 per cent), while less than one in four adults in Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador were living alone.

Due to its aging population, the biggest increase in single-person households occurred in the Atlantic provinces, with rates of growth two to four times greater than Canada as a whole.

Women are more likely than men to be living alone due to their longer life expectancy. On the bright side, however, the share of senior women living alone has decreased.

"This is the result of an aging population," said Johanne Denis, a director general at Statistics Canada. "We're also seeing higher rates of separation and divorce, delayed couple formation among younger Canadians and more women in the labour force. These are trends that other countries are also experiencing."

Empty-nesters growing at faster rate

The 2016 census found that the rate of growth since 2011 among couples living without children has been greater than among those couples living with children, at 7.2 per cent to 2.3 per cent.

Couples with at least one child represented 51.1 per cent of all couples, their lowest share on record. The biggest decline occurred in Atlantic Canada, with Nova Scotia having the lowest share at 42.8 per cent.

Nunavut had the highest share of couples living with children at 76.5 per cent, while the Northwest Territories, Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba were all above the national average.

"The growth is fuelled by boomers becoming empty-nesters," said Laurent Martel, director of the demography division at Statistics Canada.

The census also found that 69.7 per cent of all children under the age of 15 live with both their biological parents, while 6.1 per cent live with two parents, one of them a step-parent.

But just under one-fifth of Canadian children live in single-parent households — four-fifths of them with a single mother. However, the rate of single-father households has increased significantly since 2001.

Common law, same-sex couples increasing

Though married couples still form the majority of couples in Canada, the share of common law couples has increased dramatically since 1981 to 21.3 per cent from 6.3 per cent.

After Nunavut, where half of couples are common law, Quebec has the highest share of unmarried couples at 39.9 per cent. That gives Quebec a far higher share of common law couples than some countries like Norway and Sweden that have relatively high rates.

According to the census, 42.7 per cent of common law couples in Quebec live with children. The rate in other Canadian provinces is just 11.7 per cent.

The number of same-sex couples in Canada has also increased, up 60.7 per cent from 2006, while the rate of growth among all couples has been just 9.6 per cent over that time.

The census counts 72,880 same-sex couples in Canada, representing 0.9 per cent of all couples. About half of them live in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Ottawa-Gatineau.

About 12 per cent of same-sex couples live with children, well below the 51.4 per cent of opposite-sex couples that do. About four-fifths of same-sex couples with children are female.

Third of young adults still living with their parents

While more Canadians might be living alone and without children, Canadian parents with children are seeing them stay at home for a longer time.


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