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ABS shows changes on International Families Day


The number of couple families without children is projected to exceed the number of couple families with children and become the most common family type in Australia between 2023 and 2029, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) family projections data.

To mark the International Day of Families (15 May) and National Families Week (15-21 May), the ABS has looked at the changing nature of families over time.

Family Profiles

Data from the ABS in June 2016 shows the vast majority (5.7 million or 84 per cent) of Australian families were couple families. Around 44 per cent of these families had dependants living with them, down from 54 per cent in 1996. (Dependants are defined as children under 15 and dependent students aged 15-24 years.)

Familes Day

The next largest group of families in 2016 were one parent families (14 per cent). Almost two in three of the 948,800 one parent families had dependants living with them (65 per cent). Around 83 per cent of these families were headed by single mothers.

Families Day

Changes in families

“The number of couple families without children is projected to increase by between 56 and 64 per cent by 2036. Our ageing population and trends towards delayed childbearing or couples not having children contribute to this rise,” Stephen Collett said, Program Manager of Household Characteristics and Social Reporting at the ABS.

“Around 41 per cent of Australian families were couple families without children in 2012-13, compared with 35 per cent in 1997,” Mr Collett said. “The number of couple families without children is projected to overtake the number of couple families with children and become the most common family type in Australia between 2023 and 2029. This trend is driven by a number of factors, including age of the family members as well as decisions about delaying childbearing or not having children.”

Non-traditional families increasing

“The idea of a ‘traditional nuclear family’ has been changing for some time now,” Mr Collett said. “Trends in divorce and remarriage have contributed to more one-parent, step and blended families.

“There has also been an increase in the number of children under the age of 13 years living in these families or living with grandparents. Research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies reveals that about 43 per cent of children under the age of 13 years were living in non-traditional households in 2016,” Mr Collett said.

Families Day

In June 2016 there were an estimated 120,300 other types of families (for example, siblings sharing a house, or grandparents living with grandchildren). These families made up two per cent of Australian families.

Families Day

More information about families can be found at:

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