This publication presents projections of households, families and living arrangements from 1996 to 2021. The projections are based on assumptions about changing living arrangements of the population. Three series have been produced.
The number of households in Australia is projected to increase from 6.9 million in 1996 to between 9.4 and 10.0 million in 2021, a rise of between 38% and 46%. Household growth is projected to be faster than population growth (24%) over the projection period. The projected average annual household growth rate for Australia in Series B (1.4%) is higher than the projected rates for the United Kingdom (0.6%), the United States of America (1.1%) and New Zealand (1.2%) but lower than the rate for Canada (1.6%).
Lone person households are projected to show the greatest percentage increase of all household types over the 25-year projection period. This is related to the ageing of the population and the fact that older women, in particular, are more likely to live alone than others. The number of lone person households is projected to increase by between 52% and 113%, from 1.6 million households in 1996 to between 2.4 million and 3.4 million households in 2021.
AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD SIZE
The average household size in Australia is projected to decline from 2.6 persons per household in 1996 to between 2.2 and 2.3 persons per household in 2021. Average household size is projected to decline for a number of selected countries between 1996 and 2011. Australia's household size (2.4) in 2011 is projected to be smaller than Canada (2.5), New Zealand (2.7) and the United States of America (2.5) but larger than England (2.3).
THE CHANGING LIVING ARRANGEMENTS OF CHILDREN
The number of children of any age living in two-parent families is projected to decline, from 4.8 million in 1996 to between 4.1 and 4.7 million in 2021. This decline is associated with declining fertility and with the increasing tendency for children to live in one-parent families. In contrast, the number of children living with one parent is projected to remain the same as in 1996 at 1.1 million, or to increase to 1.9 million by 2021. In one of the three series (Series C) it is projected that almost one-third (31%) of 0–4 year olds will be living with one parent in 2021.
THE LIVING ARRANGEMENTS OF YOUNG ADULTS
The age groups 15–34 years are of particular importance in family and household formation. In 1996, over one-third of young adults (35% or 1.9 million) lived with either one or both of their parents, over one-quarter (27% or 1.5 million) were parents themselves and 15% (827,000) were partners in couple families without children.
In two of the three series the number of young adults who are parents themselves is projected to decline to between 0.9 million and 1.3 million, representing between 15% and 22% of young adults. Only in Series A is it projected that they will increase, to 1.6 million, representing just over one-quarter (28%) of young adults. It is projected that in 2021 between 2.0 and 2.1 million young people (34% to 36%) will be living with either one or both of their parents while between 884,000 and 902,000 young people, representing 15% of the population aged 15–34 years, will be partners in couple families without children.
THE LIVING ARRANGEMENTS OF OLDER PEOPLE (AGED 65 AND OVER)
In 1996 older people represented 5% (908,000) of the Australian population. By 2021 it is projected that they will represent 7% (1.7 million). In 1996, just over one-third of older Australians were partners in couple families without children (35%), another one-third lived alone (35%), and a further 14% lived in non-private dwellings (NPDs). Reflecting the fact that older people increasingly live in families, or are assisted by family members to live independently, it is projected that by 2021 between 582,000 and 669,000, or 35–40% of older Australians will live alone and that over three-quarters of these (77%) will be women. Furthermore, it is projected that many older Australians, between 566,000 and 672,000 (or 34–40%), will be living with their partner in a couple only family. The number of older people who are projected to live in NPDs is projected to be between 208,000 and 259,000 (or 12–15%).
CHANGING IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY TYPES
The number of families in Australia is projected to increase from 5.0 million in 1996 to between 6.3 million and 6.8 million in 2021, growth of between 24% and 34%.
Of all family types, couple families without children are projected to increase most rapidly over the period 1996–2021. Two of the three series project that couple families without children will overtake couple families with children and become the most common family type by the year 2016. This growth in couple only families is related both to declining fertility among younger couples and to the ageing of the baby boomers as they become 'empty nesters'.
Couple families with children are projected to increase slowly over the projection period, reflecting a gradual trend away from this type of family. In contrast, one-parent families are projected to increase between 30% and 66% over the 25-year period. In 1996 the number of female one-parent families was more than five times the number of male one-parent families, and this sex difference is projected to remain the same or widen to six.
STATE AND TERRITORY PROJECTIONS
Household growth between 1996 and 2021 is expected to vary markedly between the States and Territories, from 5–16% in Tasmania to about 77% in the Northern Territory. Those States and Territories which are projected to experience high population growth are also projected to have faster household growth. Overall, the capital cities are projected to experience higher rates of household growth than the balance of State, except in Tasmania.
New South Wales
The number of households in New South Wales is projected to increase by between 33% and 39%, from 2.3 million in 1996 to between 3.1 and 3.2 million in 2021.
Family households, the largest household type in New South Wales, are projected to have the largest numerical rise, increasing from 1.7 million households in 1996 to between 2.1 million and 2.2 million in 2021, an increase of between 22% and 30%.
Fastest percentage growth is projected to occur in lone person households. Female lone person households are projected to increase from 294,000 in 1996 to between 458,000 and 545,000 in 2021, growth of between 56% and 86%.
The number of households in Victoria is projected to increase by between 28% and 36%, from 1.7 million households in 1996 to between 2.2 million and 2.3 million in 2021.
The number of families in Victoria is projected to increase more slowly than families Australia-wide. From 1.3 million in 1996, the number of families in Victoria is projected to increase to between 1.5 million and 1.6 million in 2021, a projected growth of between 17% and 25%.
Between 1996 and 2021, Queensland is projected to experience some of the fastest household growth in Australia, second only to the Northern Territory. Queensland households are projected to rise from 1.2 million in 1996 to between 2.0 million and 2.2 million in 2021, growing by between 61% and 74% which is considerably faster than the projected national figure (between 38% and 46%).
Lone person households are projected to increase particularly quickly in Queensland, growing by between 78% and 157% (from 274,000 households in 1996 to between 488,000 and 705,000 in 2021).
In two out of three series, by 2006 couple families without children are projected to become the most common family type in Queensland.
Household growth in South Australia is projected to be the second slowest of all the States and Territories in Australia, increasing by between 16% and 28%, from 584,000 in 1996 to between 679,000 and 745,000 in 2021.
In 1996, couple families with children were the most common family type in South Australia, accounting for 46% of families. This family type is projected to decline in all three series, both in numbers and relative importance over the projection period.
In contrast, by 2021 the most common family type in South Australia is projected to be the couple family without children which is expected to increase by between 32% and 47%. This growth is slower than the 53% to 70% projected nationally.
Projected household growth is considerably higher in Western Australia over the period 1996–2021 than for Australia as a whole, reflecting the greater population growth projected for Western Australia than Australia over the same period.
Growth in lone person households in Western Australia is projected to be the fastest of all the States and Territories, increasing by between 73% and 170%, from 155,000 households in 1996 to between 268,000 and 418,000 in 2021.
One-parent families are projected to increase more rapidly in Western Australia than for Australia as a whole while couple families without children are projected to grow the fastest of all family types in Western Australia, becoming the most common family type by 2011 (Series C) or 2016 (Series B).
Tasmania's household and family growth is projected to be the slowest of all the States and Territories, reflecting the population decline projected for the State.
In two of the three series, household numbers in Tasmania are projected to peak by the year 2016 and then decline. Lone person households are the only source of household growth in Tasmania in two of the three series, with both family household and group household numbers projected to decline.
Tasmania's average household size is projected to become the smallest of all States and Territories by 2011. The number of people per household in Tasmania is projected to decline from 2.5 in 1996 to between 2.0 and 2.2 in 2021.
While nationally the number of families is projected to increase over the projection period, Tasmanian families are projected to remain at the 1996 level or decline.
Household growth in the Northern Territory is projected to be the fastest of all the States and Territories, increasing by about 77% in all three series, from 60,000 households in 1996 to approximately 105,000 in 2021. This increase reflects the growth projected for the Northern Territory's population which is substantially greater than that for Australia.
Average household size in the Northern Territory is projected to decline from 3.0 in 1996 to 2.6 in 2021 and is the largest projected average household size of all of the States and Territories.
The Northern Territory is the only State or Territory in which the number of couple families with children is projected to increase in all three series.
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
Household growth in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is projected to increase at much the same rate as Australia, with an increase of between 38% and 47% by 2021, from the 1996 level of 114,000, to between 152,000 and 166,000 in 2021.
Couple families without children are the family type projected to increase most rapidly in the ACT. From the 1996 level of 26,000 families, couple families without children are projected to increase between 56% and 70% to between 40,000 and 44,000 in 2021. In one of the projection series (Series C) couple families without children are projected to become the most common family type by the year 2011.
This page last updated 20 June 2006