Environment, News

The “Average Canadian Family” Has Changed

Family Portrait
Family Portrait. Image: Eric Ward

Do you think you live in an average family?

According to the latest Census of Population, published by Statistics Canada, “average” has changed.

Every five years, Canadians are asked questions about their families and their life. For instance, “How many people live here?” and “What are their ages?”

A census provides a lot of information about a province and a country. That information can be used in many different ways, by many organizations. For instance, let’s say you sell cars. You’d want to know how many people are 16 years old (driving age) or older. Or let’s say you were going to build a hospital. You’d want to know how many people are, say, likely to have a baby in the next few years so you would know what the demand for your maternity ward is likely to be. And so on.

Some new information from the 2011 was recently published.

That census counted 9.4 million families in Canada, up 5.5 per cent from 2006.

The other thing a census tells us is what Canadian families look like.

For instance, in 1961 (according to that census) the average family comprised 3.9 people. In 2011 (according to the most recent census) the average family comprises 2.9 people.

We also learned from the 2011 census that, for the first time, there are more people living alone in Canada than there are couples with children.

Ten years ago, the most common (43.6 per cent of families) type of family was two parents and children under 24 years old living together.

Today, less than 40 per cent of families are like that—and more of those couples aren’t officially married.

And 2011 was the first year the Canadian census tracked step-families—people with children from a previous marriage, living in the home. About 10 per cent of Canadian children live in some variation of that living situation.

The census also counted 64,575 same-sex couples, 32.5 per cent of whom are married— nearly twice as many as in 2006.

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Does the information from Statistics Canada match your own experiences and observations of families? If not, why do you think this is the case?

Reading Prompt: Making Inference/Interpretation Texts
What is a .9 of a person? Use ideas from the article and your own thinking to explain what this means.

Use stated and implied ideas in texts to make inferences and construct meaning (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Develop and explain interpretations of increasingly complex or difficult texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts to support their interpretations (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Grammar Feature: Comprise
The word “comprise” means ‘to contain’ or ‘to embrace’. For example, “In 2011 (according to the most recent census) the average family comprises 2.9 people.” The word “comprised” is like the word “included.” You wouldn’t say “included of”—so you don’t say “comprised of.”

Can you think of any other words or phrases that mean the same thing as ‘comprise’?