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HOUSEHOLDS AND FAMILIES
Household and family projections
At 30 June 2006 there were a projected 8.1 million households in Australia which were home to an estimated 20.2 million people, or 98% of the resident population. Australian households have changed considerably in number, size and composition over the last 95 years. During this period, the number of households increased on average by 2.6% per year, compared with an average household population increase of 1.9% per year. Average household size is projected to continue decreasing to 2.3 people per household in 2026 based on ABS Household and Family Projections, Series II (graph 7.50). Much of this decline can be attributed to reductions in completed family size and the increase in one-person 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 also contributed to the increase in the number of two-person households.
Household and family projections are estimates of future numbers of households and families based on assumptions about changing living arrangements of the population. The ABS has published three series of projections for the years 2001 to 2026 - Series I, II and III. In Series I, the pattern of living arrangements as determined from the 2001 Census is used throughout the projection period. In Series II and III, recent trends in living arrangements are incorporated into the projections. It should be noted that estimates of the numbers of families in 2001 in the discussion below are derived from 2001 estimated resident population data in conjunction with 2001 Census data, and therefore differ from the 2001 Census counts of families mentioned above.
The projections show continuing growth in the number of households in Australia, from 7.4 million in 2001 to between 10.2 million and 10.8 million by 2026. This represents an overall increase of between 39% and 47% compared with population growth of 25% over the same period. As a result, average household size in Australia is projected to decrease from 2.6 people per household in 2001 to between 2.2 and 2.3 people per household in 2026.
Family households are projected to remain the most common type of household, increasing from 5.3 million in 2001 to between 6.7 and 7.0 million in 2026. However, as a proportion of all households, family households are projected to decrease from 72% in 2001 to between 62% and 69% in 2026 (graph 7.51).
Between 2001 and 2026, the number of couple families with children is projected to increase slowly in both Series I and II, and to decrease in Series III. This scenario reflects a gradual trend away from this type of family and is related to increasing numbers of couple families without children (as a result of the ageing of the population, declining fertility and delayed childbirth) and increasing numbers of one-parent families (as a result of increased family break-up).
In 2001 there were 2.5 million couple families with children, accounting for just under half (47%) of all families in Australia. In Series I, which assumes current living arrangements of the population continue until 2026, this number is projected to increase to 3.0 million in 2026 (42% of all families). In Series III, which assumes changes in living arrangements observed between 1986 and 2001 continue at the same rate until 2026, the number is projected to decrease to 2.0 million (30% of all families) (table 7.52).
Couple families without children are projected to experience the largest and fastest increases of all family types in Australia. As a result, in Series II and III, couple families without children are projected to outnumber couple families with children in 2011 and 2010 respectively. From 1.9 million families in 2001 (36% of all families), couple families without children are projected to increase to between 2.9 million and 3.3 million families in 2026 (41% and 49% of all families respectively). This growth is primarily related to the ageing of the population, with 'baby boomers' becoming 'empty nesters', and to a lesser extent to delayed family formation and declining fertility of younger couples.
One-parent families are projected to increase from 838,000 families in 2001 to between 1.1 million and 1.4 million families in 2026. In 2001 the number of female one-parent families (698,000) was around five times the number of male one-parent families (140,000). This ratio is projected to continue throughout the projection period.