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2006 Census: Family portrait: Continuity and change in Canadian families and households in 2006: Definitions and notes

Census family:

A census family is composed of a married couple or a common-law couple, with or without children, or of a lone parent living with at least one child in the same dwelling. A couple can be of the opposite sex or of the same sex.

Married and common-law-couple families with and without children:

Unless otherwise specified, in this document, married- or common-law-couple families with children refer to census families with at least one child aged 24 and under present in the home. Married- or common-law-couple families without children include families with all children aged 25 and over.

Children present in the home could be from either the current or previous unions, and excludes children that might have a permanent residence other than that of their parents on Census Day.

Conceptual changes in 2001 that affected the definition of census families with children:

As of 2001, the definition of census families was broadened to include the following:

  • Children in a census family who can be previously married (as long as they are not currently living with a spouse or common-law partner). Previously, they had to be 'never married'.
  • A grandchild living in a three-generation household where the parent (middle generation) is never married is, contrary to previous censuses, now considered as a child in the census family of his or her parent, provided the grandchild is not living with his or her own spouse, common-law partner, or child. Traditionally, the census family usually consisted of the two older generations.
  • A grandchild of another household member, where a middle-generation parent is not present, is now considered as a child in the census family of his or her grandparent, provided the grandchild is not living with his or her own spouse, common-law partner, or child. Traditionally, such a grandchild would not be considered as a member of a census family.

The above three changes resulted in 1.4% more census families in 2001, including 9.6% more lone-parent families, than would have been the case if the definitions had remained constant. Historical comparisons for census families, particularly for lone-parent families, must be interpreted with caution as a result of these conceptual changes.

Households:

In this document, private households and the population in private households are included in the analysis and the population in institutions and collective dwellings are excluded.

Unless otherwise specified, in this document, households with couples and children refer to couples with at least one child aged 24 and under present in the home. Households comprised of couples without children include couples with all children aged 25 and over.

Marital and conjugal status:

Legal marital status refers to the categories of legally married (and not separated), separated (but still legally married), never legally married (single), divorced and widowed.

Conjugal status refers to whether a person is legally married or living common-law. Common-law is not a legal marital status. A person who is living common-law can have a legal marital status of never legally married (single), divorced, separated or widowed.

In this document, the term 'spouse' refers to an individual who is legally married, and the term 'partner' refers to a person who is part of a common-law couple. A spouse or partner may be of the opposite sex or of the same sex.

Living arrangements of individuals:

A person living in a private household can be a spouse, a common-law partner, a lone parent, a child or a person not in a census family. Persons not in census families include persons living alone, or individuals living with other relatives or non-relatives.

For more information regarding census terminology, please consult the census dictionary.

Note on rounding:

Due to the nature of random rounding of census data, counts may vary slightly in different census products, such as the analytical document, highlight tables, and topic-based tabulations.