In 2001, there were an estimated 7.4 million households in Australia which were home to an estimated 19.1 million people, according to data from the 2001 Census of Population and Housing.
Australian households have changed considerably in number, size and composition over the past 90 years. During this period, the number of households increased, on average, by 2.4% per year, compared with an average population increase of 1.7% per year. This difference reflects a fall in average household size from 4.5 people per household in 1911 to 3.6 people per household in 1954 and 2.6 people per household in 2001.
Much of this decline can be attributed to reductions in completed family size and the increase in numbers of one- and two-person households. The number of one-person households has grown largely as a result of population ageing combined with longer life expectancy of women over men. Population ageing, increased childlessness among couples and an increase in the number of one-parent families have also contributed to the increase in the number of two-person households.
AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD SIZE, number of people per household
ABS data available on request, Household Estimates; Australian Demographic Statistics (3101.0);
Census of Population and Housing, 1954–1981.
HOUSEHOLD AND DWELLING CHARACTERISTICS, 2003–04
Four or more
% of total
|5 or more persons|
|(a) Includes bed-sits and dwellings with zero bedrooms. |
Source: ABS data available on request, Survey of Income and Housing, 2003–04.
Australian households are becoming smaller on average. However, the size of the houses or apartments (dwellings) that people live in, is increasing (as indicated by the number of bedrooms). The average number of persons per household declined from 3.1 in 1976 to 2.5 in 2003–04. In the same period, the proportion of dwellings with 4 or more bedrooms increased from 17% to 27% and the average number of bedrooms per dwelling rose from 2.8 to 3.0.
In 2003–04, most households enjoyed relatively spacious accommodation. For example, 85% of lone person households lived in dwellings with two or more bedrooms. More than three-quarters of 2-person households (77%) had three or more bedrooms. Nearly one-third of 3-person households (31%) had four or more bedrooms. More than a fifth (22%) of 3-bedroom dwellings, and 8% of 4-bedroom dwellings, had only one person living in them.
Dwelling characteristics have an impact on the environment in terms of the amount of energy needed to heat and/or cool them and the amount of resources used to build or renovate them. Other things being equal, a larger house will consume more energy than a smaller one, although factors such as solar orientation can alter this equation.