PAST TRENDS IN LIVING ARRANGEMENTS
The most common living arrangement for people in Australia over the period 1991 to 2006 was a couple family with children, with at least half the population being either a partner or a child in this family type. The trend over this period reveals a decline in this type of living arrangement. In 1991, 59% of all Australians lived in a couple family with children (29% were partners and 29% were children). By 2006, this proportion had decreased to 50% (25% partners and 25% children).
Conversely, the proportion of people living in one-parent families increased between 1991 and 2006, from 9% to 12%, with the proportion of children increasing from 6% to 7%, female lone-parents increasing from 3% to 4%, and male lone-parents remaining at 1% of Australia's population.
Over the past four Censuses, the proportion of people living as partners in couple only families has increased, from 17% in 1991 to 21% in 2006. This trend is primarily due to the ageing of the population and subsequent increase in the number of 'empty nesters'.
The proportion of people living alone increased from 7% in 1991 to 10% in 2006, with males increasing from 3% to 4% and females from 4% to 5%. The proportion of people in group households decreased from 4% in 1991 to 3% in 2006, while people living in non-private dwellings accounted for 2% of the population in each Census since 1991.
State and territory variations
The trends in changes in living arrangements for Australia mentioned above are also apparent in all states and territories, however, differences in the likelihood of being in a particular living arrangement exist. In general, states with older age structures have higher proportions of people in living arrangements associated with older people (for example, living alone), while states and territories with younger age structures tend to have lower proportions.
Victoria had the highest proportion of people living in couple families with children in 2006 (52% of Victoria's population), while Tasmania and South Australia had the lowest (each 47%). Conversely, Tasmania and South Australia had the highest proportions of people living in couple only families (24% and 23% respectively) while the Northern Territory had the lowest (17%), reflecting the older populations of Tasmania and South Australia and the relatively young population of the Northern Territory.
The proportion of people living in one-parent families in the states and territories is similar to that of Australia, except for the Northern Territory. In 2006, 15% of the Northern Territory's population lived in one-parent families, compared to 12% for Australia.
In 2006, the Northern Territory had the lowest proportion of people living alone (8%), while South Australia and Tasmania had the highest proportions (12% and 11% respectively), again reflecting the different age structures of their populations.
People living in group households were most common in the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland (both 4%) compared to Australia and the remaining states and territories (3% each). The Northern Territory recorded the highest proportion of people living in non-private dwellings (3% compared to 2% for Australia and the remaining states and territories).