4613.0 - Australia's Environment: Issues and Trends, 2007  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/01/2008   
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Image: PeopleHOUSEHOLDS



Household and dwelling characteristics

Australian households have changed considerably in number, size and composition over the past 90 years. Households are becoming smaller on average. Average household size fell from 4.5 people per household in 1911 to 3.6 people per household in 1954 and 2.6 people per household in 2001. It is projected to fall to 2.5 in 2006.

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.


Average household size
Graph:Average household size

Note: Graph shows number of people per household. Figures for 2002 to 2006 are projections based on the 2001 Census, Series II Household and Family Projections, Australia, 2001 to 2026 (cat. no. 3236.0).

Source: ABS data available on request, Household Estimates; Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0); Census of Population and Housing, 1954-1981.


Population ageing, increased childlessness among couples and an increase in the number of one-parent families have contributed to the increase in the number of two-person households.

However, the size of the houses or apartments (dwellings) that people live in, is increasing (as indicated by the number of bedrooms). The proportion of dwellings with four or more bedrooms increased from 17% to 27% between 1976 and 2006, and the average number of bedrooms per dwelling rose from 2.8 to 3.0.

About 85% of lone person households lived in dwellings with two or more bedrooms and more than three-quarters of 2-person households (77%) had three or more bedrooms.

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.


HOUSEHOLD AND DWELLING CHARACTERISTICS, 2003-04
One bedroom
Two bedrooms
Three bedrooms
Four or more bedrooms
Total households (a)
Total households (a)
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
% of total

One person
277.7
676.9
825.9
163.5
1 962.1
25.4
Two persons
75.8
620.4
1 397.6
529.0
2 625.3
33.9
Three persons
8.7
136.3
686.6
375.5
1 207.1
15.6
Four persons
n.p.
63.2
620.2
538.6
1 223.0
15.8
Five or more persons
n.p.
9.0
239.3
468.9
718.4
9.3
Total households
364.2
1 505.9
3 769.6
2 075.4
7 735.8
100.0

(a) Includes bedsitters and dwellings with zero bedrooms.
Source: ABS data available on request, Survey of Income and Housing, 2003-04.



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