3236.0 - Household and Family Projections, Australia, 2001 to 2026  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/06/2004   
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June 18, 2004
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
Loners may double by 2026

The number of Australians living alone is projected to reach between 2.8 million and 3.7 million people by 2026, says the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This is compared to 1.8 million Australians who were living alone in 2001.

These projections are based on three alternative sets of assumptions about changes in people's future living arrangements and equate to between one in seven and one in nine Australians living alone, up from one in eleven in 2001.

Around one-quarter to one-third of all people living alone in 2026 (between 844,000 and 962,000 people) are projected to be older Australians (aged 75 years and over). Three-quarters of these older Australians are expected to be women.

The increase in the number of people living alone is related to the ageing of the population, increases in divorce and separation, and the delaying of marriage.

Couple families without children are projected to increase the most rapidly of all types of families over the next 25 years, to between 2.9 and 3.3 million in 2026 (or between 41% and 49% of all families). In 2001, there were 1.9 million couple families without children (36% of all families). Couple families without children may overtake the number of couple families with children, in either 2010 or 2011.

The growth in the number of couple families without children is primarily related to the ageing of the population, with baby boomers becoming 'empty nesters', and to a smaller extent to declining fertility among younger couples and delayed family formation.

Children of all ages living in two-parent families are projected to fall to between 4.4 and 4.9 million in 2026 (from 5 million in 2001). This fall is associated with declining fertility and delayed childbirth, and with the increasing tendency for children to live in one-parent families as a result of family break-up. The number of children living with one parent is projected to increase to between 1.4 and 2.1 million in 2026 (up from 1.3 million children in 2001).

The number of Australian households is projected to increase by between 39% and 47% (to between 10.2 and 10.8 million, up from 7.4 million households in 2001). Average household size is projected to decline from 2.6 people per household in 2001 to between 2.2 and 2.3 people in 2026.

More details, including an explanation behind the assumptions used, are available in Household and Family Projections, Australia, 2001 to 2006 (cat. no. 3236.0).