Recent Statistics About Marriage and other Unions



Marriage is the Most Popular Union


The 2001 Census shows that of the 8.4 million families in Canada, 5.9 million (70%) are married couples; 1.3 million (16%) are lone-parent; 1.2 million (14%) are common-law partners and 34,200 (0.5%) are same-sex partners.


The Census also shows that 68% of children aged 0-14 live with married parents and 13% with common-law parents, while 19% do not live with both parents.


Statistics Canada, Profile of Canadian families and households: Diversification continues, October 22, 2002.



Marriage is More Stable


§         The General Social Survey issued by Statistics Canada in July 2002 illustrates that while there has been an increase in the break-up of all unions, that common-law unions are generally less stable than marriages. In fact, they are twice as likely to end in separation as marriages.


§         If a common-law union does not turn into a marriage, about one-half dissolve within five years. Even if they eventually marry, they are still more likely to separate than people who married without first living common-law. (Anne Milan, Canadian Social Trends, Statistics Canada, Spring 2000)



Marriage Provides a More Stable Setting for Children


§         Children born to a married couple who had not lived together before marrying were the least likely (13.6%) to see their parents break up.


§         Family breakdown was a fact for a spectacular 63.1% of the children of unmarried, common-law couples.


§         Children whose parents had lived common-law but then married (either before or soon after starting a family) were in an intermediate category. Approximately 25% of these children experienced family breakdown.



§         Not only are the children of common-law unions at higher risk of experiencing family breakdown, but they are also much more likely to see this happen at an early age often before their second birthday.


Nicole Marcil-Grattton. “Growing up with Mom and Dad?” in Transition, The Vanier Institute of the Family, Spring, 1999, pp 5-6



March 25, 2003