The composition of the Canadian family is changing. Families have fewer members, and there are a decreasing number of families with children living at home. The size of the family has declined from an average of 4.3 persons in 1921, to 3.7 in 1971, to 2.5 in 2006. The average number of children at home per family has also dropped from 1.4 in 1981 to 1.1 in 2006.
The number of these families with children living at home was 5,475,990 (61.5% of all families) in 2006. The proportion of common-law families with children increased by 8.5% between 1981 and 2006, while that of families consisting of a married couple with children decreased by 17.8%. Over the last 25 years, the proportion of lone-parent families has increased steadily.
Source: Statistics Canada. 2006 Census. (Cat. No. 97-554-XCB2006007). Ottawa, 2007.
An increase in stepfamilies has also changed the composition of Canadian families, with various mixes of step-parents, stepchildren, stepsiblings and half siblings. In 2001, there were more than half a million stepfamilies in Canada. About half of the couples in stepfamilies were legally married and half were common law. Among stepfamilies, 10% were couples with the father's children only, 50% were couples with the mother's children only, and 40% were blended families. In 80% of blended families, couples had at least one child together.