Census reveals changes in family formation, aging population

Statistics Canada revealed 2016 census figures on “families, households, and marital status” that showed a record number of Canadians are living alone.

One-person households comprise 28 per cent of households, the most common type arrangement. The next most common are couples with children (26 per cent) followed by couples without children (26 per cent). Lone-parent families make up nine per cent of households. One in 25 are non-family households and multi-generational households comprise three per cent. Other types of households make up four per cent.

Approximately one in seven people reside in one-person households (13.9 per cent), up from 1.8 per cent in 1951.

Doug Norris, chief demographer at Environics Analytics, told the Toronto Star the “traditional mom, dad, kids is certainly not increasing very much and declining maybe a bit.”

A report by Cardus Family written by Andrea Mrozek and Peter Jon Mitchell noted, “This year the marriage data is presented as a percentage of couples, making historic and international comparisons slightly more difficult.”

Johanne Denis, director general at Statistics Canada, says the growing number of people living alone reflects an aging population, higher rates of separation and divorce, “delayed couple formation,” and a growing number of women in the workforce. Longer lifespans mean there are more seniors living alone and increased economic independence means fewer people look at marriage as a necessity.

Many couples without children households are new families that haven’t yet had children or older couples whose children have moved out. At the same time, a growing number of Canadians in their 20s or early 30s still live with at least one parent. About one-third of Canadians ages 20-34 have either returned home or never left.

There are very few same-sex couples, under one per cent of all couples., for a total of 72,880 households. More than one in ten (12 per cent) of same-sex couples had children living with them. A total of 10,020 children under 15 years of age live with a same-sex couple.

The census also shows that Canadian is aging quickly, as there are now more seniors (65 and over) than children 14 or under, with 5.9 million of the former and 5.8 million of the latter. Seniors make up approximately 20 per cent of the population.

Statistics Canada projects greater disparities in the future as life expectancy improves and fertility rates remaining low. Stats Canada predicts by 2031, seniors will be 23 per cent of the population.

Economist Frances Wooley of Carleton University told the CBC that seniors put “increasing demands on government spending” with health care and pensions. A previous Stats Can census report found just two-thirds of Canadians are labour market age (15 to 64), with that percentage continuing to decline slightly (from 68.5 per cent in 2011). Furthermore, there are about 600,000 more Canadians about to join the work force (15-24) than those likely to retire soon (55-64). This means there will be fewer workers supporting more retirees; by mid-century the ratio of workers to retirees is expected to be two to one; demographers believe ratios of four to one are necessary to maintain current pension obligations.

On August 21, Canada’s chief actuary’s annual report on the Canadian Pension Plan predicted that within 40 years spending on pensions will increase fivefold.

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