Married couples with kids in the minority for first time
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Monday, October 4, 2010 9:49PM EDT
For the first time there are more single Canadian adults than married Canadians, a new report says.
Canadians are also working longer hours, and spending less time with their families -- and the families they have are less likely to be the traditional nuclear family.
Those are just some of the findings in Families Count: Profiling Canada's Families IV, a new report released Monday by the Vanier Institute of the Family.
Using information from the 2006 census, the report said that only 47.9 per cent of adults were married.
The highest amount of married people by province was in Newfoundland and Labrador with 54.3 per cent and the lowest was in Quebec, with 37.5 per cent. Among the territories, only 31 per cent of adults were married in Nunavut.
The number of married couples without children also outnumbered married couples with children for the first time.
Married-with-children families now represent 39 per cent of families, compared to 55 per cent in 1981.
Common-law families are the fastest-growing family type in Canada, from 5.6 per of families in 1981 to 15.5 per cent in 2006.
Two decades ago, 81 per cent of children under the age of 15 lived with legally married parents, but in 2006, only 66 per cent of children under 15 did.
Kathy Buckworth, the author of several books on motherhood, said the rising proportion of common law relationships may be due to the fact that "we're dealing with people who grew up in the divorce generation."
"If they grew up in that situation, perhaps they're thinking, ‘If I can't get married, I can't get divorced,'" she told CTV News Channel.
Buckworth also said that financial factors may play a role, with many couples opting to keep their finances separate.
"Weddings can cost a lot of money, and with less pressure to have that traditional relationship, or marriage certificate, maybe that's being bypassed," she added.
The 2006 census was the first to record data on same-sex marriages. The data said 16.5 per cent of same-sex couples were married.
Economic impact on families
Clarence Lochhead, the executive director of the Vanier Institute of the Family, said modern economic realities have had a serious impact on the makeup of the Canadian family.
More adult children are living with their families, especially young men. Some 60 per cent of men between 20-24 were living at home, as were 26 per cent of men between the ages of 25 to 29.
"If you think about the education required to be successful in the labour markets . . . people are waiting much longer to leave home . . . it's a reflection of the economic reality of the labour market," Lochhead told CTV News Channel.
Aging parents are also an additional stress on families, as 4.7 million Canadians were providing care for a senior.
"It's one of the big challenges we have as a society," Lochhead said.
Families are responding by working more. In 82 per cent of two-parent families, each parent is earning some income and in 32 per cent of two-parent families, each parent is working full time.
Men are working longer hours, up to 8.8 a day in 2005 compared to 8.2 hours in 1986. That extra work is coming at the expense of the family, with men now spending 3.4 hours a day with family, compared to 4.2 hours in 1986.
Women are now more likely to be the breadwinner in a two-parent family, with 28 per cent being the primary earner in their family. That is up from 12 per cent in 1976.