The most common living arrangement for people in Australia over the period 1996 to 2011 was in a couple family with children, with around half the population being either a partner or a child in this family type. However, the trend over this period reveals a decline in this type of living arrangement. In 1996, 54% of Australians lived in a couple family with children (27% were partners and 27% were children). By 2011, this proportion had decreased to 49% (24% partners and 25% children).
Over the past four Censuses, the proportion of people living as partners in couple families without children has increased, from 19% in 1996 to 21% in 2011. This trend is primarily due to the ageing of the population and subsequent increases in the number of 'empty nesters', particularly people aged in their 60s. This trend is also due to couples deferring having children or not having children at all.
The growth in one parent families and couple families without children increased between 1996 and 2011, from 11% to 12%, with the proportion of the population who were children in one parent families increasing from 6% to 7%. Female lone-parents increased from 3% to 4%, and male lone-parents remained at 1%.
The proportion of people living alone remained at 9% from 1996 to 2011. The proportion of people living in group households remained constant at 4%, while people living in non-private dwellings accounted for just under 2% of the population in each Census year since 1996.
STATE AND TERRITORY VARIATIONS
The trends in living arrangements observed at the Australia level are generally also apparent in all states and territories. Where differences do exist, they largely reflect differences in the age/sex structure of the state/territory populations. For example, Tasmania is the state with the lowest proportion of people living in couple families with children, and the highest proportion of both couple families without children, and lone person households. This reflects the fact that Tasmania has an older age structure than most states. Conversely, the Northern Territory has the youngest age structure of all the states and territories, and has the lowest proportion both of couple families without children and of lone person households (most lone person households are older females). The Northern Territory also has the highest number of single parent families, as well as the highest proportion of people living in non-private dwellings.
Table 3.1 Lowest and highest percentages by family types
% of state/territory
% of state/territory
% of Australia
|Couple family with children||Tasmania|
|Couple family without children||Northern Territory|
|One parent family||Australian Capital Territory|
|Group household member||Tasmania|
|Australian Capital Territory|
|Lone person||Northern Territory|
|South Australia / Tasmania|