4.4 million people lived alone in Canada last year: Statistics Canada

STATISTICS Canada on Wednesday released new results from the 2021 Census, including information about families, households, and marital status, and the following are the highlights:

Continuing a long-term pattern of growth, 4.4 million people lived alone in 2021, up from 1.7 million in 1981. This represented 15% of all adults aged 15 and older in private households in 2021, the highest share on record.

Despite the increase in solo living, the prevalence of one-person households is relatively low in Canada from an international perspective, representing about 3 in 10 households (29.3%) in 2021. Among G7 countries, only the United States had a slightly smaller share (28.5% in 2021).

Solo living is on the rise in middle-adulthood in Canada, with the share of people aged 35 to 44 who live alone doubling from 1981 (5%) to 2021 (10%). In contrast, the share of women aged 65 and older living alone has decreased over time, owing to gradual convergence in the life expectancies of men and women. This is allowing older adults—particularly women—to live as part of a couple for longer.

In a continuation of recent trends, the share of adults in private households living alone in 2021 was highest in Quebec (19%) and lowest in Nunavut (8%).

Households composed of roommates—that is, two or more people living together, among which none are part of a census family—are the fastest-growing household type. From 2001 to 2021, the number of roommate households increased by 54%. Despite the strong growth of households composed of roommates, they still represented a small share of all of Canada’s households in 2021 (4%).

Nearly 1 million (986,400) households in 2021 were composed of multiple generations of a family, two or more census families, or one census family living with additional persons not in a census family. These households have grown relatively rapidly in the last twenty years (+45%) and represented 7% of all households in 2021.

Following steady growth from 2001 (31%) to 2016 (35%), the share of young adults aged 20 to 34 living in the same household as at least one of their parents was unchanged from 2016 to 2021 (35%). In 2021, an additional 15% of individuals in their 20s and early 30s lived with roommates—that is, with extended relatives or other non-related people. This was the fastest-growing living arrangement for this age group from 2016 to 2021.

From 2016 to 2021, the largest growth in the proportion of young adults living with at least one parent was recorded in several large urban centres located in Alberta and Saskatchewan: Red Deer (+7 percentage points), Calgary (+5), Edmonton (+4), Saskatoon (+3) and Regina (+2). However, the prevalence remained highest in Ontario’s large urban centres, particularly Oshawa, where nearly half (49%) of young adults lived with their parents in 2021.

Generally, patterns in the living arrangements of children aged 0 to 14 in private households were fairly stable from 2016 to 2021. However, among children living in a one-parent family, a growing share—over one in five (21%) in 2021—were living with their father, up from 14% in 1981.

Almost 1 in 10 children aged 0 to 14 in census families (9%), or more than half a million (553,855) children, were living in the same household as at least one of their grandparents in 2021. The vast majority of these children (516,995) lived in a multigenerational household, meaning they lived with at least one parent and at least one grandparent. The remaining 36,860 lived in a skip-generation family with one or more grandparents and without parents present.

Over half a million (550,810) children aged 0 to 14 lived in a stepfamily in 2021, representing 9% of all children in this age group living in census families. This share has been stable since stepfamilies were first identified in the 2011 Census.

There were 26,675 foster children aged 0 to 14 in 2021, down 10% from the 29,590 reported a decade earlier.