Just as families have evolved across generations, so too have the couple relationships that are a major part of Canada’s “family landscape.” This perpetual change is both a reflection of and a driving force behind some of the evolving social, economic, cultural and environmental forces that shape family life.
Dating, marriage, cohabitation, common-law relationships – the ways people choose to come together, or decide to move apart, are as diverse as the couples themselves. There are, however, some broad trends being witnessed across the country, with family structures diversifying, people forming couple relationships at later ages and family finances taking on a more egalitarian structure.
Using new data from the 2016 Census, the Vanier Institute of the Family has published an infographic on modern couples in Canada.
- In 2016, married couples accounted for 79% of all couples in Canada, down from 93% in 1981.
- One-quarter of “never-married” Canadians say they don’t intend to get married.
- In 2016, 21% of all couples in Canada were living common-law, up from 6% in 1981.
- The share of twentysomething women (37%) and men (25%) living in couples has nearly halved since 1981 (falling from 59% and 45%, respectively).
- In 2016, 12.4% of all couple families in Canada with children under 25 were stepfamilies, down slightly from 12.6% in 2011.
- There are 73,000 same-sex couples in Canada, 12% of whom are raising children.
- 1 in 5 surveyed Canadians reported in 2011 that their parents are separated or divorced, up from 10% in 2001.
- The share of people living in mixed unions nearly doubled between 1991 and 2011, from 2.6% to 4.6%.1
- 69% of couples with children were dual-earner couples in 2014, up from 36% in 1976.
Learn more about modern relationships in Canada:
- Polyamory in Canada: Research on an Emerging Family Structure (Transition article)
- Collaborative Settlement: Resolving Disputes After Separation or Divorce (Transition article)
- 50 Years of Families in Canada (timeline)
- Living Apart, Together: LAT Couples in Canada (Fascinating Families)
- Same-Sex Families Raising Children (Fascinating Families)
- Grey Divorce (Silver Separations) (Fascinating Families)
Published on August 4, 2017
- Statistics Canada defines a mixed union as “a couple in which one spouse or partner belongs to a visible minority group and the other does not, as well as a couple in which the two spouses or partners belong to different visible minority groups.”