Canada’s families shifting from marriage to common-law, same-sex couples increasing10:59 am - 09/19/2012
OTTAWA — The sanctity of marriage as the bedrock of the Canadian family is steadily eroding as the country’s social fabric evolves, new census data released Wednesday reveals.
Instead, although married couples are still the norm — about two thirds of families — their numbers are lagging and only increased by 3.1 per cent between 2006 and 2011.
In contrast, the number of common-law couples rose by 13.9 per cent and lone-parent families rose by eight per cent over the same period.
The shift means that common-law couples now account for 16.7 per cent of all families, and lone-parent families now represent 16.3 per cent of the total.
Meanwhile, in another trend reflective of the changing social landscape, same-sex couples are increasingly settling down together. Notably, the number of same-sex marriages tripled between 2006 and 2011, the first five-year period during which they could legally tie the knot in Canada.
These are some of the main findings of the data from the 2011 census compiled by Statistics Canada.
The census also contained new information about Canadian stepfamilies, also known as “blended families,” showing that they represent about one in eight couples with children.
Indeed, the census contains a rich trove of information about the kinds of households where the country’s children now live.
Increasingly, fewer kids are living in homes with married parents, and more are living with common-law parents and single parents.
Of the nearly 5.6 million children aged 14 and under, 63.6 per cent lived with married parents in 2011 compared with 68.4 per cent in 2001. Over the same period, the percentage of kids living with common-law parents rose from 12.8 per cent to 16.3 per cent.
Nearly 1,078,600 children — 19.3 per cent of all children in private households — lived with lone parents in 2011, up from 18 per cent a decade earlier.
More than four out of five children (82.3 per cent) in those circumstances lived with a lone female parent.
Meanwhile, 557,950 children aged 14 and under lived in stepfamilies in 2011 — 10 per cent of all children.
Also, just over 30,000, or 0.5 per cent of the total, lived in “skip-generation” families — with one or both grandparents where no parents were present.
Also, for the first time, the census counted the number of foster children. There were 29,590 kids aged 14 and under in foster care — about 0.5 per cent of the country’s total in this age group.
Statistics Canada also revealed a continuing trend in which the number of couples with children continued to fall as a share of all families. Last year, 39.2 per cent of families included children, compared to 44.5 per cent without kids.
Also, it found that families themselves are becoming smaller. The average number of children per family fell from 2.7 in 1961 to 1.9 in 2011.
The census also discovered that a recent trend — many young people, particularly men, in their 20s not leaving their parents’ home — has not abated.
Of the 4.3 million people in this age group, 42.3 per cent lived with their parents last year — relatively unchanged from 2006, but well above the share of 32.1 per cent in 1991 and 26.9 per cent in 1981.
Meanwhile, a higher share of seniors lived as part of a couple in a private household in 2011, compared with a decade earlier. About one in every 12 seniors lived in a collective dwelling such a nursing home or a senior citizens’ residence.
The figures come from a third batch of data that Statistics Canada has released this year from its May 10, 2011, census of Canadians.
The agency said that its census counted 9,389,700 families in Canada, up 5.5 per cent from the 2006 census.
Statistics Canada said married couples remained the “predominant family structure” last year, but that the share has “decreased over time.”
In 1961, married couples accounted for 91.6 per cent of Canadian families. By 2001, the share had dipped to 70 per cent and slipped further to 68.6 per cent in 2006 and 67 per cent last year.
Statistics Canada reported that there were 6.3 million married couples last year, compared to 6.1 million in 2006 — an increase of just 3.1 per cent.
Meanwhile, there were 1.6 million common-law couples versus 1.4 million in 2006. Similarly, there were 1.5 million lone-parent families compared to 1.4 million in 2006.
About eight in 10 lone-parent families were led by mothers. However, the statistics reveal that the growth in lone-parent families over the last five years was more than twice as strong for males (a 16.2-per-cent hike) compared with females (six per cent).
The census revealed there has been a significant rise in same-sex couples — with a sharp increase in the number of those who have legally become married.
That is likely due to the fact the legal landscape has changed dramatically. In 2005, Parliament passed legislation to make Canada the third country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.
Last year, there were 64,575 same-sex couple families, up 42.4 per cent from 2006. Of these couples, 43,560 were common-law couples, while 21,015 were married.
By comparison, in 2006 there were 37,900 common-law couples and just 7,500 same-sex married couples.
That growth shift — from 7,500 to 21,015 married same sex-couples — is a significant increase over just five years. But Statistics Canada also reveals that despite the change, same-sex married couples represent just 0.3 per cent of all Canadian couples.
WTF is that first sentence?