Two-parent households are waning
Down from 64% of families to 41% in three decades
National Post, Tom Arnold Wednesday, October 23, 2002
The institution known as Canada’s traditional family — a married mother and father with children — is crumbling, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada.
The census numbers released yesterday recorded one of the most significant drops in married couples with children in Canadian history.
Such couples represented 55% of all families in Canada in 1981, while today they account for just 41%. In 1971, they accounted for 64% of all Canadian households.
To arrive at the latest figures, Statistics Canada analyzed 36 kinds of families across the country, from married couples with three or more offspring to a single male parent with one child under six to childless lesbian partners.
“It’s not that people are throwing away the idea of family; it’s that they are changing the ways in which they form families,” said Bob Glossop of the Vanier Institute of the Family, a national agency that monitors family trends.
“There is a distinction here between family and marriage. Canadians are still partnering up. They are still making promises and commitments to each other. They are creating families.”
Married couples with or without children accounted for 70% of all families in Canada in 2001, also down significantly from 83% in 1981.
“There is now a more open and inclusive definition of family, one that acknowledges lone-parent families, blended families, married couples, common-law couples and increasingly same-sex couples and same-sex couples with children as families,” he added. “They are all tied together by commitments they have made over time with affection and love.
“The institution of marriage, which was once thought to be tied at the hip to the institution of family, is no longer.”