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2006 Census: Family portrait: Continuity and change in Canadian families and households in 2006: National portrait: Individuals

Living as part of a couple peaks for women in their late thirties

About 15 million Canadians aged 15 and over lived with a spouse or partner in 2006, representing 58.7% of the population, down slightly from the proportion of 59.3% in 2001.

Living with a spouse or partner peaked for women in their late thirties, but this did not occur for men until their late sixties. Nearly three-quarters (73.7%) of women aged 35 to 39 lived with a spouse or partner. By the time women reached their late sixties, the proportion living as part of a couple had fallen quite dramatically, while this was not the case for men until the oldest age groups. The proportion of seniors living as part of a couple decreases with age, and particularly for women, as they are more likely to outlive their spouses or partners. This age pattern has been consistent over the past 20 years.

About two-thirds of men aged 80 or over in private households (65.7%) lived with a spouse or partner in 2006, compared to only 22.3% of women. The slight increase in the proportion of men who were spouses or partners in their fifties compared to younger ages could reflect a higher tendency among men to remarry or find a new partner after the dissolution of an earlier relationship.

Figure 11 In 2006, living as part of a couple peaks for women in their late thirties

There were large differences in the proportion of men who lived alone in 2006 compared to women across age groups.

In 2006, some 3.3 million people aged 15 and over lived alone. These people represented 13.0% of the population in private households, up slightly from 12.5% in 2001.

Figure 12 In 2006, more senior women than senior men lived alone

The proportion of persons who lived alone was low for both men and women during their young adult years. Until their early fifties, a higher proportion of men lived alone than did women, reflecting earlier union formation for women as well as the tendency to be younger than their spouse or partner. The last age group for which the proportion of men living alone was higher than women was from age 50 to 54 (13.2% of men and 12.1% of women).

By their mid-to-late fifties, more women than men lived alone. This gap continued to increase throughout the senior years, reflecting higher life expectancy and, as a consequence, a greater proportion of women who were widowed. By the age of 80 and over, more than half (54.5%) of women lived alone, as opposed to less than one-quarter (24.4%) of men. The age pattern has been consistent over the past 20 years.

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