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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2006  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/01/2006   
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FUTURE LIVING ARRANGEMENTS

Traditionally, Australians have experienced three main living arrangements over their lifetimes: living with parents, living with a partner (for some of this time with children) and living alone in old age if that partner died. Increasingly, living arrangements throughout a lifecycle may also include living alone or in a group household prior to partnering and living either alone or in a one-parent household after divorce or separation. Changing living arrangements are the result of various demographic and social trends, such as declining fertility and the delay of child-bearing, increased divorce rates and increasing life expectancy. Future changes in family and household composition will have implications in areas such as housing, income support, accommodation provision and aged care, as well as health and family services.

This article analyses projections of living arrangements over the period 2001 to 2026. The projections are not intended as predictions or forecasts, but illustrate changes in living arrangements which would occur if assumptions about future trends prevail over the projection period. In both 1986 and 2001, the majority of Australians lived in couple families with children (60% of Australians in 1986 compared with 52% in 2001). Over the same period, the proportion of people living in one-parent families increased from 9% to 12%. The proportion of people living in couple families without children increased from 17% in 1986 to 20% in 2001. The proportion of people living alone also increased, from 7% of the population in 1986 to 9% in 2001. The ABS uses these observed trends to develop household and family projections (see Household and family projections). Table 5.56 shows the number of people by living arrangement for each of the Series I, II and III projections.

5.56 LIVING ARRANGEMENTS

2026

2001
Series I
Series II
Series III
Persons
'000
'000
'000
'000

Usual residents of family households
Couple family with children
10,087.8
11,023.0
10,114.9
8,506.5
Couple family without children
3,894.6
5,990.5
6,293.8
6,691.2
One-parent family
2,244.5
2,523.6
2,891.3
3,600.0
Total persons in family households(a)
16,611.4
20,006.4
19,754.8
19,302.7
Usual residents of lone-person households
Males
819.4
1,164.1
1,348.7
1,693.7
Females
985.9
1,677.9
1,800.7
1,999.3
Usual residents of group households
665.6
785.1
843.2
915.3
Usual residents of non-private dwellings
331.0
568.3
454.4
290.8
Total
19,413.2
24,201.8
24,201.8
24,201.8

(a) Includes persons living in other family types.

Source: Household and Family Projections, Australia, 2001 to 2026 (3236.0).


LONE-PERSON HOUSEHOLDS

The number of people living alone is projected to increase from 1.8 million in 2001 to between 2.8 million (Series I) and 3.7 million (Series III) by 2026. This represents an increase of between 57% and 105%. One effect of ageing in Australia's population is that increases in the number of people in older age groups will affect those living arrangements that older people are more likely to live in. Many older Australians live alone, therefore the total number of people living alone is projected to increase. Other factors leading to an increase in people living alone are delayed partnering and increases in divorce and separation. In all three series, women account for more than half of those living alone. Graph 5.57 shows a peak for older women living alone, reflecting the higher life expectancy of women in Australia. Conversely, men are more likely to live alone at younger ages. The effects of separation and divorce, where men are less likely to be the resident parent, contributes to the number of younger men living alone.

Graph 5.57: LONE-PERSON HOUSEHOLDS



COUPLE FAMILIES

The number of people living in couple families with children is projected to increase slightly under Series I, from 10.1 million in 2001 to 11.0 million in 2026. Under Series II, this figure is projected to remain relatively steady, while Series III projects a decline to 8.5 million people.

Most children (81%) aged 0-14 years lived in two-parent families in 2001. In Series I, the number of children in two-parent families is projected to decline from 3.2 million in 2001 to 3.1 million in 2026, reflecting the projected decline in the total population of children aged 0-14 years. In Series II and III the number is projected to decline further, to between 2.9 million (77% of children aged 0-14 years) and 2.5 million (67%).

The number of people living in couple families without children is projected to increase rapidly under all three series, from 3.9 million people in 2001 to between 6.0 million (Series I) and 6.7 million (Series III) in 2026. This change is due largely to increasing numbers of older couples resulting from population ageing. However, these projections are not only a reflection of population ageing, but also of couples having no children or smaller families, and consequently spending more time living in couple families before and after they have children (graph 5.58).

Graph 5.58: PARTNERS IN COUPLE FAMILIES WITHOUT CHILDREN



ONE-PARENT FAMILIES

In 2001 there were 2.2 million people in Australia living in one-parent families (table 5.59). This is projected to increase to between 2.5 million (Series I) and 3.6 million (Series III). The number of children aged 0-14 years living in one-parent families is projected to increase in Series II and III, from 745,000 in 2001 (19% of children aged 0-14 years) to between 875,000 (23%) and 1.3 million (33%), reflecting the effect of increasing separation and divorce of partners with children. In addition, the number of children aged 25 years and older living with a parent is also projected to increase under all three series, from 232,000 in 2001 to between 270,000 (Series I) and 344,000 (Series III) in 2026. Many in this group would be adult children living with an ageing parent.

5.59 PEOPLE LIVING IN ONE-PARENT FAMILIES

2026

2001
Series I
Series II
Series III
'000
'000
'000
'000

Female lone parent
698.4
894.1
989.6
1,146.1
Male lone parent
139.8
188.2
202.7
223.2
Child aged 0-14 years
744.5
707.1
875.1
1,252.3
Child aged 15-24 years
367.7
374.2
429.8
534.6
Child aged 25 years and over
232.2
270.3
300.5
343.5
Total persons in one-parent families(a)
2,244.5
2,253.6
2,891.3
3,600.0

(a) Includes other related individuals.

Source: Household and Family Projections, Australia, 2001 to 2026 (3236.0).


OTHER LIVING ARRANGEMENTS

In all three series the number of people living in group households is projected to increase, from 666,000 people in 2001 to between 785,000 and 915,000 in 2026. Group household members are projected to remain a relatively small proportion of the total population, making up between 3% and 4% in 2026, similar to 2001 (3%). The most prevalent age group is projected to remain the 20-24 year age group.

In 2001 there were 331,000 people living in non-private dwellings in Australia e.g. in aged-care facilities. In Series I and III, this is projected to increase to between 568,000 and 454,000 in 2026. In Series III, the number is projected to decrease to 291,000 people. People in non-private dwellings are projected to remain a small proportion of Australia's population, making up 1% to 2% of the population in 2026 (similar to the 2001 figure of 2%).

In 2001, half (50%) of people living in non-private dwellings were aged over 65 years. This proportion is projected to increase in Series I and II to between 67% and 62%, and remain similar in Series III (51%).

References

ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2005, Australian Social Trends, (4102.0), ABS, Canberra

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