StatsCan’s most recent census data reveal household changes that could affect how you approach financial planning for clients.

Fewer families are assuming the traditional configuration of mom, dad and kids. Couples with children comprised 26.5% of households in 2016, down from 31.5% in 2001.

In contrast, proportionally more people live as part of a couple without kids, part of a multi-generational family or alone.

Flying solo

One-person households accounted for more than 28% of all households in 2016 — the highest share since Confederation. In fact, one-person households are now the most common household.

“In 2016, 13.9% of the Canadian population aged 15 and over lived alone, compared with 1.8% in 1951,” reports StatsCan, which says the increase stems from economics and demographic shifts.

For example, income redistribution, pensions and women’s increased labour force participation have led to more people being economically independent. Further contributing factors are the high divorce rate, the aging population and higher life expectancy.

Senior and common-law couples increase

Though more senior women live alone than senior men (33% versus 17.5%), the proportion of the former is down from 2001, when about 38% of senior women lived alone.

Read: Renovations so clients can age in place

Interestingly, the proportion of senior women living in a couple rose to more than 51% in 2016 from about 44% in 2001 — and that trend grows more striking for those aged 80 and older.

Says StatsCan: “Since the 1970s, men have seen larger gains in their life expectancy, and this has led to couples living together longer.”

Read: Should this retired Toronto couple buy or rent?

Canada’s aging population means the proportion of couples living with children is decreasing. From 2011 to 2016, the number of couples living without children rose faster (+7.2%) than the number of couples with children (+2.3%). The trend is partly offset by adult children who don’t move out of their parents’ homes.

Read: Older clients loaning to kids? Discuss these 3 questions

And, though most couples are married, more than one-fifth are common-law couples, a situation becoming more frequent everywhere in Canada.

Read: Homeownership rights for cohabiting clients

More multi-generational households

Also on the rise is the share of multi-generational households.

Though the latest census reveals only about 3% of households include at least three generations of the same family, this household type rose the fastest since 2001 — at a rate of +37.5%, well above the 21.7% gain for all households. In 2016, 6.3% of Canada’s population who live in private households also live in multi-generational households (2.2 million people).

While StatsCan acknowledges that the increase may be attributed to greater ethnic diversity, it also says housing needs and the high cost of living could be factors. Households comprising non-couples, such as roommates or siblings, are also on the rise.

Read: 3 tips to help clients buy property with friends

Read the full StatsCan report.

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