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4442.0 - Family Characteristics and Transitions, Australia, 2006-07  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/06/2008  Reissue
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Notes

15/08/2008: Additional data cubes were released containing selected State versions of publication tables, in Excel spreadsheet format.

15/07/2008: This publication is being reissued to correct estimates and proportions in table 15 for "Couple relationship history" and "Number of couple relationships" data items. Other data items in table 15 are correct. Graph 5 on page 10, and associated text on pages 9 and 10 of the Summary of Findings have been updated to reflect the corrections to table 15. Table 10 has also been corrected to include 125,000 children aged under 18 years of age living with both their natural parents and in a blended family. These children were previously included in the total numbers of children presented in the table.

20/06/2008: Additional data cubes were released that present tables contained in the publication in Excel format.

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS


INTRODUCTION

This publication presents results from the 2006-07 Family Characteristics and Transitions Survey (FCTS) and compares them to results from the 2003 and 1997 Family Characteristics Surveys (FCS), providing information about changing patterns of family and household composition in contemporary Australia. Information on family transitions such as relationship history, relationship expectations, children born and fertility expectations is also presented in this publication.

Information is presented for the Australian population living in private dwellings, excluding very remote parts of Australia.


HOUSEHOLDS

In 2006-07 there were 8.1 million households in Australia, of which 72% (5.8 million) contained one or more families. Families, as counted in the survey, are defined as:

  • two or more persons, one of whom is at least 15 years of age, who are related by blood, marriage (registered or de facto), adoption, step or fostering; and
  • who are usually resident in the same household.

Family households contained 17.7 million people, or 87% of the Australian population living in private dwellings (excluding very remote parts of Australia). The vast majority of family households contained only one family (97% of all family households in 2006-07) ( table 1).

Lone person households comprised 25% of Australian households in 2006-07, with 2 million people, or 10% of the Australian population (in private dwellings) living alone. There were more women than men living alone. Neither the proportion of lone person households, nor the greater proportion of lone women compared to lone men, has changed over the last decade ( table 1).

The proportion of people living in group households has declined over the past decade, with group households comprising 3% of total population living in private dwellings in Australia in 2006-07, down from 5% in 1997 and 4% in 2003 ( table 1).


FAMILIES

Families may be comprised of:
  • couples with or without co-resident children of any age;
  • lone parents with co-resident children of any age; or
  • other families of related adults, such as brothers or sisters living together, where no couple or parent-child relationship exists.

Of the 5.9 million families in Australia in 2006-07, 85% (5.0 million) were couple families, 14% (808,000) were one parent families and 1% (81,000) were other families (table 1).

For couple families, those with co-resident children of any age outnumbered those without children of any age. The proportion of couple families with children has been decreasing over the last 10 years (was 48% of total families in 1997, 46% in 2003 and 45% in 2006-07), while the proportion of couple families without children of any age has been increasing over time (was 35% of total families in 1997, 38% in 2003 and 40% in 2006-07) (table 1). Around Australia, those states or territories with a higher than average proportion of couple families without children of any age were Queensland (42%), South Australia (42%), Western Australia (42%) and Tasmania (44%) ( table 2).

The proportion of one parent families with children of any age declined slightly in 2006-07 compared to previous years (14% in 2006-07 down from 15% in both 2003 and 1997) ( table 1).

Diagram: Households, families and persons, 2006-07


Families with co-resident children of any age

Families with co-resident children of any age (3.5 million) made up 59% of all families in 2006-07. Of all families with children of any age, 78% had dependent children (aged less than 15 years or a full-time dependent student aged 15 to 24 years), while 22% had non-dependent children only. In 2006-07, there were 2.6 million families with at least one child aged 0 to 17 years (44% of all families) ( table 1).

The proportion of one parent families where the youngest co-resident child was aged 0 to 4 has decreased over the last decade, to 15% (of all one parent families) in 2006-07 down from 21% in 2003 ( table 4).


EMPLOYMENT STATUS OF PARENTS

Both parents were employed in 63% of the 2.2 million couple families with co-resident dependent children. The proportion of couple families with dependent children where both parents were employed generally increased with the age of the youngest dependent child, from 49% of families where the youngest child was aged 0 to 4 years, to 75% of families where the youngest dependent child was a full-time student aged 15 to 24 years ( table 6).

Of all couple families with co-resident dependent children, 5% had neither parent employed in 2006-07. Of all one parent families with dependent children, 41% had a co-resident parent who was not employed (table 6). There were 607,000 dependent children (12%) living in families without an employed co-resident parent, although in some cases other people in these households were employed. There were 508,000 dependent children (10%) living in a household where no one was employed ( table 7).

1 FAMILIES WITH DEPENDENT CHILDREN, Whether parent(s) employed by age of youngest dependent child
Graph: 1 Families with dependent children, Whether parent(s) employed by age of youngest dependent child


For lone mothers with co-resident dependent children, 34% of those whose youngest child was aged 0 to 4 years were employed, mostly on a part-time basis. This proportion increased to 71% of lone mothers where their youngest dependent child was a full-time student aged 15 to 24 years, with most then employed on a full-time basis ( table 6).

2 FAMILIES WITH DEPENDENT CHILDREN, Whether mother employed full-time or part-time
Graph: 2 Families with dependent children, Whether mother employed full-time or part-time



FAMILY STRUCTURES

Of all families in 2006-07 with co-resident children aged 0 to 17 years (2.6 million), 80% were couple families and 20% were one parent families ( table 1). The proportion of families with children aged 0 to 17 years that were couple families has increased since 2003 (up from 78%), while the proportion of one parent families with children aged 0 to 17 years has declined since 2003 (down from 22%) ( table 8).

The majority of all couple and one parent families in 2006-07 with co-resident children aged 0 to 17 years were intact couple families (1.9 million or 73% of all families with children aged 0 to 17 years). These are families in which the children are the natural or adopted children of both parents and there are no step children. The remaining couple families with children aged 0 to 17 years were step or blended families. Step families are those formed when parents re-partner following separation or death of their partner and there is at least one step child of either member of the couple, but no natural or adopted child of this couple. There were 94,000 step families with co-resident children aged 0 to 17 years in 2006-07 (4% of all families with children aged 0 to 17 years). A blended family contains a step child but also a natural or adopted child of both parents. There were 80,000 blended families with co-resident children aged 0 to 17 years in 2006-07 (3% of all families with children aged 0 to 17 years). There has been little change in the proportions of intact, step or blended couple families since 1997 ( table 8).

In 2006-07, the majority of one parent families with co-resident children aged 0 to 17 years were lone mother families (17% of all families with children aged 0 to 17 years) compared to lone father families (3% of all families with children aged 0 to 17 years) ( table 8).

Most families in which the youngest co-resident child was aged 0 to 4 years were intact couple families (81% of all families with the youngest child aged 0 to 4 years). The proportions for intact families with older co-resident children were lower - 69% of all families with the youngest child aged 5 to 9 years, 67% of all families with the youngest child aged 10 to 14 years and 65% of all families with the youngest child aged 15 to 17 years were intact families ( table 9).

3 FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN AGED 0-17 YEARS, Family structure by age of youngest child
Graph: 3 Families with children aged 0-17 years, Family structure by age of youngest child


In 2006-07, there were:
  • 14,000 grandparent families in which the grandparents were guardians or main carers of co-resident children aged 0 to 17 years. The number of grandparent families has decreased since 2003 when there were 23,000 grandparent families with children aged 0 to 17 years;
  • 7,000 foster families in which there was one or more co-resident foster child; and
  • 27,000 same-sex couple families. The majority of these couples had no children.

These families contribute to total couple families in publication tables, but are not separately identified.


CHILDREN WITH PARENTS LIVING ELSEWHERE

Of the 4.8 million children aged 0 to 17 years in 2006-07, just over 1 million (22%) had a natural parent living elsewhere, compared to 21% in 1997 and 23% in 2003. Of these children, 75% lived in one parent families, 12% in step families and 10% in blended families. Children were more likely to live with their mother than their father after parents separated. The vast majority of natural parents living elsewhere were fathers (82% of these children had a father living elsewhere) ( table 10).


Contact arrangements

Of the children aged 0 to 17 years with a natural parent living elsewhere, 43% (444,000) saw this parent at least once per fortnight, while 28% rarely saw their other natural parent (less than once per year or never). Of children with a natural parent living elsewhere, 4% spent half their nights or more per year living with that other parent, while 19% of children spent less than 10% of their nights per year (for example, less than 3 nights per month) staying overnight with the parent living elsewhere. Fourteen percent of children spent between 10% and 20% of their nights (for example, between 3 and 6 nights per month) with that parent. Almost half (47%) never stayed overnight with their parent living elsewhere ( table 11).

In 2006-07, 47% of children aged 0 to 4 years saw their parent living elsewhere at least once a fortnight, compared with 50% of children aged 5 to 9 years, 42% of children aged 10 to 14 years and 35% of children aged 15 to 17 years. For overnight stays, 50% of all children aged 5 to 9 years and 52% of all children aged 10 to 14 years with a natural parent living elsewhere stayed overnight with that parent. The proportions were lower for younger children aged 0 to 4 years (33%), and older children 15 to 17 years (38%) ( table 13).

4 CHILDREN SEEING NATURAL PARENT LIVING ELSEWHERE, Frequency of visits by age of child
Graph: 4 Children seeing natural parent living elsewhere, Frequency of visits by age of child



NON-RESIDENT PARENTS

Non-resident parents are those people who do not usually live with their children aged 0 to 17 years (their children usually live with the other natural parent). In 2006-07, there were 470,000 non-resident parents. Most non-resident parents were fathers (82%). Almost half (49%) of the fathers were members of a couple family, while 36% of them lived alone. Other non-resident fathers lived in group households (4%) or as lone parents (10%). Of non-resident mothers, 56% were members of a couple family, 28% were lone parents, and 10% lived alone ( table 14).


COUPLE RELATIONSHIPS

Of the 15.5 million people in Australia aged 18 years and over living in private dwellings (excluding those in very remote parts of Australia) in 2006-07, 65% were currently married, either in a registered marriage (55% or 8.5 million people), or a de facto marriage (10% or 1.6 million people) ( table 15).


Relationship history

Information on a person's marriages (either registered or de facto), including current and past relationships, was collected in 2006-07. When asked about the number of marriages they have had, some people may have reported a registered marriage preceded by cohabitation as one relationship (i.e. one registered marriage), while others may have counted the period of cohabitation as a de facto marriage separate to the registered marriage. Therefore people who had been in a registered marriage preceded by a period of cohabitation may be included either in the category 'Registered marriage(s) only' or in the category 'Both registered and de facto marriages'.

Forty-four percent (6.8 million) of adults reported that they had only been in a registered marriage, while 8% of adults reported that they had only been in a de facto marriage. About one-quarter (26%) of people reported that they had been in both at least one registered marriage and at least one de facto marriage (this may include some who cohabited prior to entering into a registered marriage). Around 3.2 million adults (21%) had never been married (either registered or de facto). Most people in the 18-24 year age group (83%) had never been married, while only 3% of people over the age of 64 years had never been married ( table 15).

Experiences of partnering varied with age. Compared with older people, a higher proportion of people aged below 35 years had been in a de facto marriage and had not entered into any registered marriages (10% of those aged 18-24 years and 18% of those aged 25-34 years). Over the age of 34 years, most people reported that they had been in a registered marriage, but had not been in any de facto marriage relationships (50% or more in age groups 35 to 74 years). The proportion of adults reporting that they had been in both a registered marriage and a de facto marriage (which may have included some people who cohabited before registered marriage) increased with age, from 12% of 25 to 34 year olds, to 42% for those people aged 65 years and over. Over half of those aged 75 years and over (51%) reported that they were currently in a registered marriage, and a further 41% were widows/widowers. Thirty-six percent of people aged 75 years and over reported that they had been with their partner for 50 years or more ( table 15).

5 PERSONS AGED 18 YEARS AND OVER, Relationship history by age (years)
Graph: 5 Persons aged 18 years and over, Relationship history by age



Characteristics of registered marriage

In 2006-07, 11% of couples aged 65 to 74 years and 5% of couples aged 75 years or more who were currently in a registered marriage reported that they cohabited before getting married. In comparison, 67% of those aged 25-34 years who were currently in a registered marriage reported that they cohabited before getting married. Of the 25-34 year olds who cohabited before marrying, more of them lived together for 3 or more years (46%) than for shorter periods (only 14% lived together for less than 1 year before marrying) ( table 16).

Of all people currently in a registered marriage, 45% were aged between 18 to 24 years at the time of their registered marriage. The proportions of people entering into a registered marriage at this age were higher for persons aged 55 years or more ( table 16).

6 PERSONS AGED 25 YEARS AND OVER, Proportion married at age 18-24 years by current age (years)
Graph: 6 Persons aged 18 years and over, Proportion married at age 18-24 by current age



Expectations for registered marriage

Of the 1.6 million people over the age of 18 years who were in a de facto marriage in 2006-07, 42% stated that they expected to enter into a registered marriage with their current partner. Most of those aged 34 years or less in a de facto marriage (60%) reported that they expected to enter into a registered marriage with their current partner ( table 15).

Twenty-eight percent or 437,000 people over the age of 18 currently in a de facto marriage reported that they did not expect to enter into a registered marriage with their current de facto partner, with most of these persons aged between 35 and 54 years. 392,000 or 25% of those people in a de facto marriage reported that they did not know whether they would enter into a registered marriage with their partner ( table 15).


FAMILY TRANSITIONS

Parental transitions in childhood

Fifteen percent of adults surveyed in 2006-07 reported that during their childhood (before they turned 18) their parents or guardians had divorced or separated. Younger people (aged 18 to 34) were more likely to report that their parents had separated. Nine percent of adults reported that during their childhood (before they turned 18) a parent or guardian had died. The reported rate of parental death during childhood was higher for those people currently aged 65 years and over (16%) ( table 20).


Leaving home

In 2006-07, of males and females aged 18 to 24 years, 49% of males and 45% of females had never left the parental home. These proportions decreased for those adults aged 25 to 34 years, where 13% of males and 15% of females had never left home. Of all males and females aged 18 to 34 years still living at their parental home, 15% of males and 28% of females nevertheless lived separately from their parents (including those whose parents died or left the parental home). The reason most frequently given by young adults for still living with their parents was financial reasons (33%), followed closely by the convenience and/or enjoyment of living at home (29%) ( table 19).

Of the 3.5 million people aged 18 to 34 years old who had left the parental home, 32% moved out so they could be independent. Other common reasons for moving out of home were to live with their partner or to get married (18%), to study (17%) or because of their employment or career (11%) ( table 19).


Children born

In 2006-07, 10.1 million or 65% of the adult population in Australia (in private dwellings, excluding very remote parts of Australia) reported that they have had natural children. Of these people, 41% reported that they have had two children, and 39% reported that they have had three or more ( table 17).

7 PERSONS AGED 18 YEARS AND OVER, Proportion who have had children by age (years)
Graph: 7 Persons aged 18 years and over, Proportion who have had children by age


People in the older age groups were more likely to report that they had larger families. Thirty-four percent of parents aged 35 to 54 who have had natural children reported that they have had three or more children, compared with 61% of parents aged 75 and over ( table 17). Of those people aged 18 years and over who reported that they have not had children, 64% were aged 18 to 34 years, compared to 7% of those aged 65 years and over.

Of those adults who reported that they have had natural children, 69% were aged less than 30 years when they had their first child. This proportion increases to 75% for those people who are currently aged 65 years or more. Less than 10% of parents were aged 35 years or more when their first child was born. Females were more likely to have been aged less than 25 years when they had their first child (45%) than males (24%). This proportion increases to 56% for females aged between 55 and 74 years, compared to 30% of males; and decreases to 27% for females aged 35 to 44 years, compared to 16% for males of that age ( table 17).


FERTILITY EXPECTATIONS

Women aged 18 to 49 years were asked in the survey about their future expectations of bearing children. The proportions who expected to bear children in the future varied according to age.

8 WOMEN AGED 18-49 YEARS, Expectations for having children by age
Graph: 8 Women aged 18-49 years, Expectation for having children by age


Of those women who have already had children, the proportions who expected to have more children decreased from 66% of those aged 18 to 24 years to 5% of those aged 35 years and over. Of those women who had not yet had children, 78% of those aged 18 to 24 years and 75% of those aged 25 to 29 years expected to have children. For those aged 35 to 49 who had never had children, 14% expected to have children in the future ( table 18). The main reason for women not expecting to bear any children, was because the women considered themselves or their partner to be too old.


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Commonwealth of Australia 2014

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