Recent Immigrants in Metropolitan Areas: Canada—A Comparative Profile Based on the 2001 Census

Part C: Families and Households

Family and household affiliation of individuals

Older recent immigrants more likely to be living with relatives

Table C-1: Immigrants by period of immigration and Canadian-born—living arrangements, by age, Canada, 2001 (number and percentage distribution)
  Canadian-born Immigrants Immigrated before 1986 Immigrated 1986-1995 Immigrated 1996-2001
All Ages (including 0-14 years)
Living alone 2,438,600 517,900 399,600 78,200 40,100
Living with non-relatives only 857,100 147,400 65,300 44,200 38,000
Living with relatives 20,604,200 4,771,900 2,485,700 1,403,500 882,700
15-24 years
Living alone 119,300 11,300 2,300 5,500 3,500
Living with non-relatives only 234,400 19,500 3,800 9,100 6,600
Living with relatives 3,098,100 438,200 52,300 248,800 137,000
25-44 years
Living alone 758,600 121,000 50,200 41,300 29,600
Living with non-relatives only 395,500 78,100 24,600 26,300 27,300
Living with relatives 5,966,400 1,609,300 582,600 635,900 390,700
45-64 years
Living alone 755,300 152,500 128,800 19,100 4,600
Living with non-relatives only 149,800 34,100 24,800 6,800 2,600
Living with relatives 4,471,900 1,630,900 1,198,200 309,800 122,900
65 years and over
Living alone 805,500 233,100 218,300 12,400 2,400
Living with non-relatives only 47,900 14,400 12,200 1,600 500
Living with relatives 1,716,500 778,600 652,500 96,800 29,200
 
All Ages (including 0-14 years)
Living alone 10% 10% 14% 5% 4%
Living with non-relatives only 4% 3% 2% 3% 4%
Living with relatives 86% 88% 84% 92% 92%
15-24 years
Living alone 3% 2% 4% 2% 2%
Living with non-relatives only 7% 4% 6% 3% 4%
Living with relatives 90% 93% 90% 94% 93%
25-44 years
Living alone 11% 7% 8% 6% 7%
Living with non-relatives only 6% 4% 4% 4% 6%
Living with relatives 84% 89% 89% 90% 87%
45-64 years
Living alone 14% 8% 10% 6% 4%
Living with non-relatives only 3% 2% 2% 2% 2%
Living with relatives 83% 90% 89% 92% 94%
65 years and over
Living alone 31% 23% 25% 11% 8%
Living with non-relatives only 2% 1% 1% 1% 2%
Living with relatives 67% 76% 74% 87% 91%

Note: For definitions of extended and nuclear families, see the Glossary.

Very few recent immigrants live alone. Like the Canadian born population, a large majority of recent immigrants live in households with at least two people, and in most cases, these are people with whom they are related by blood, marriage, or adoption. In fact, recent immigrants are more likely than the Canadian-born population to be living with relatives. This difference is true for all age groups, but is most notable among people aged 65 years and over. Among Canadian-born seniors, two-thirds live with relatives, while almost one-third live alone. By comparison, nine out of ten very recent immigrants aged 65 years and over live with relatives, while only one in ten live alone. In part, these figures probably reflect a difference in the average age of recent-immigrant and Canadian-born seniors.

Recent immigrants more likely to live in extended families

Recent immigrants are similar to Canadian-born individuals in that most live in nuclear families, with no relatives other than the immediate members of the nuclear family. However, recent immigrants are more likely than the Canadian-born to live in extended family situations. Of the Canadian-born population living with one or more relatives, only 6% are part of an extended family compared to 12% of those who immigrated in the 1996 to 2001 period.

Figure C-1: Immigrants by period of immigration and Canadian-born—percentage living with relatives in an extended family, Canada, 2001 (percentage)

Figure C-1

Note: For definitions of extended and nuclear families, see the Glossary. Whereas Table C-1 includes all persons, Figure C-1 and Table C-2 include only persons who are living with relatives. A small percentage of individuals living with relatives are in “non-family” households. An example might be two adult brothers living together. The percentage of individuals in these situations is not shown in the table and figure in this section.

Extended-family living arrangements are most common among older recent immigrants. Over one-third of very recent immigrants aged 65 years and over live in extended families, compared to less than one in ten Canadian-born seniors. Older recent immigrants living in extended families are most often related to someone within a nuclear family, and are not members of the nuclear family itself.

Table C-2: Immigrants by period of immigration and Canadian-born—living with relatives in nuclear or extended family, by age, Canada, 2001 (number and percentage distribution)
  Canadian-born Immigrants Immigrated before 1986 Immigrated 1986-1995 Immigrated 1996-2001
All ages
Nuclear family 19,100,000 4,073,300 2,164,100 1,147,800 761,500
Extended family 1,221,400 622,100 279,700 233,000 109,400
Under 15 years
Nuclear family 5,036,700 285,800
Extended family 304,300 28,500
15-24 years
Nuclear family 2,837,800 365,300 44,400 208,100 112,800
Extended family 214,500 62,600 6,900 35,200 20,600
25-44 years
Nuclear family 5,565,900 1,367,800 503,500 521,000 343,300
Extended family 316,300 215,500 70,400 103,800 41,300
45-64 years
Nuclear family 4,148,800 1,425,300 1,066,100 256,800 102,500
Extended family 253,000 187,500 118,500 49,500 19,500
65 years and over
Nuclear family 1,510,800 629,200 550,200 62,000 17,000
Extended family 133,200 128,000 84,000 32,500 11,500
 
All ages
Nuclear family 93% 85% 87% 82% 86%
Extended family 6% 13% 11% 17% 12%
Under 15 years
Nuclear family 94% 91%
Extended family 6% 9%
15-24 years
Nuclear family 92% 83% 85% 84% 82%
Extended family 7% 14% 13% 14% 15%
25-44 years
Nuclear family 93% 85% 86% 82% 88%
Extended family 5% 13% 12% 16% 11%
45-64 years
Nuclear family 93% 87% 89% 83% 83%
Extended family 6% 11% 10% 16% 16%
65 years and over
Nuclear family 88% 81% 84% 64% 58%
Extended family 8% 16% 13% 34% 39%

Note: For definitions of extended and nuclear families, see the Glossary. Whereas Table C-1 includes all persons, Figure C-1 and Table C-2 include only persons who are living with relatives. A small percentage of individuals living with relatives are in “non-family” households. An example might be two adult brothers living together. The percentage of individuals in these situations is not shown in the table and figure in this section. Consequently, the percentages in Table C-2 do not add to 100%.

Families

One in nine families is a recent immigrant family

In 2001, there were 2,492,000 recent immigrants living in Canada who had landed between 1986 and 2001. A large majority of these immigrants—2,156,000 or 87%—were members of a nuclear family. In other words, they were husbands, wives, common-law partners, lone parents, or children living with one or two parents. One in nine families in Canada is a recent immigrant family—that is, a family in which either or both spouses or the lone parent are recent immigrants.

Most of the recent immigrant families consist of a married or common-law couple, while 12% are lone-parent families. Among Canadian-born families, 16% are lone parent families, while 84% are married or common-law couples.

Table C-3: Recent immigrant and Canadian-born families—family structure, by age of older spouse or lone parent, Canada, 2001 (number and percentage distribution)
  Canadian-born
families
Recent immigrant
families
All families (including ages 15-24 years)
Couples with or without children 4,911,000 84% 783,200 88%
Lone-parent families 913,600 16% 108,500 12%
Total number of families 5,824,500 100% 891,700 100%
25-44 years
Couples with or without children 2,036,900 81% 459,800 88%
Lone-parent families 478,600 19% 60,200 12%
Total number of families 2,515,400 100% 519,900 100%
45-64 years
Couples with or without children 1,972,200 87% 254,700 88%
Lone-parent families 291,400 13% 35,500 12%
Total number of families 2,263,600 100% 290,200 100%
65 years and over
Couples with or without children 805,100 89% 60,500 86%
Lone-parent families 99,400 11% 9,600 14%
Total number of families 904,400 100% 70,100 100%

Note: For definitions of family and related concepts, see the Glossary. Since the 1996 Census there have been changes to the definition of family.

When families are grouped by the age of the oldest member, families of seniors are seen to have a composition different from the general pattern. Lone-parent families of seniors are more common among recent immigrant families, and less common among the families of Canadian-born.

Recent immigrant families more likely to have children in the home

A striking difference between recent immigrant and Canadian-born families is in the proportion of families with children at home. Almost eight in ten recent immigrant families have at least one child of any age living at home. By comparison, just over six in ten Canadian-born families have children at home.

This difference occurs mainly among families whose oldest member is 45 years of age or older. Among young families, the proportion of those with children living at home is similar for recent immigrant and Canadian-born families. However, nearly two in five recent-immigrant families of seniors have children in the home, compared to only one in five Canadian-born families.

The higher proportion of older recent immigrant families with children living at home could be due to a greater likelihood that older children stay longer in the parental home, as well as possible differences in the timing of childbirth and level of fertility. Some of the children in older immigrant families may be adults living with and possibly supporting one or two ageing parents.

Figure C-2: Recent immigrant and Canadian-born families— never-married children living at home, by age of older spouse or lone parent, Canada, 2001 (percentage)

Figure C-2

Older recent immigrant families have more children living at home

Recent immigrant families with children are somewhat more likely to have more than two children in the home than Canadian-born families with children. Twenty-one percent of recent immigrant families with children have three or more children, compared to 17% of Canadian-born families.

The share of young families with three or more children is the same for Canadian-born families and recent immigrant families, one in five. However, 24% of recent immigrant families with an older spouse or lone parent 45 to 64 years of age have more than two children, compared to 14% of Canadian-born families. Amongst the oldest recent immigrant families, 10% have three or more children living at home, compared to only 2% of Canadian-born families.

Table C-4: Recent immigrant and Canadian-born families—never-married children living at home, by age of older spouse or lone parent, Canada, 2001 (number and percentage distribution)
  Canadian-born families Recent immigrant families
All ages (including ages 15-24 years)
One child 1,538,700 43% 256,500 38%
Two children 1,439,500 40% 279,200 41%
Three or more children 620,000 17% 142,800 21%
25-44 years
One child 667,200 33% 154,200 37%
Two children 908,600 45% 174,000 42%
Three or more children 423,800 21% 83,700 20%
45-64 years
One child 658,800 49% 80,700 34%
Two children 492,900 37% 97,500 42%
Three or more children 188,800 14% 56,200 24%
65 years and over
One child 159,200 86% 17,100 66%
Two children 21,000 11% 6,200 24%
Three or more children 4,100 2% 2,700 10%

Majority of recent immigrants married to other recent immigrants

The majority of the 892,000 recent immigrant families are comprised of a recently immigrated husband married to or living common-law with a recently immigrated wife, with or without children. An additional 12% of families have a recently immigrated spouse and a spouse who immigrated earlier, before 1986. One in seven recent immigrant families has a recent immigrant paired with a Canadian-born spouse.

Of the families of immigrants who landed before 1986, nearly four in ten consist of an immigrant paired with a Canadian-born spouse (not shown in Figure C-3). This proportion is nearly three times as large as that of recent immigrant families.

Figure C-3: Recent immigrant families—family structure showing immigrant status of spouses, Canada, 2001 (percentage distribution)

Figure C-3

When recent immigrants enter into conjugal unions, they are very likely to do so as a legally married couple. Just 3% of recent-immigrant couples live common-law, compared with 20% of Canadian-born couples. Even among young couples, where common-law is the clear preference of the Canadian born, relatively few recent immigrant couples have chosen this option.

Table C-5: Recent immigrant and Canadian-born families—couples in common-law relationships by age of older spouse, Canada, 2001 (number and percentage)
  Canadian-born families Recent immigrant families
All ages 975,800 20% 15,100 3%
15-24 years 76,600 79% 900 24%
25-44 years 594,400 29% 10,800 4%
45-64 years 268,300 14% 3,100 2%
65 years and over 36,500 5% 300 1%

The low incidence of common-law relationships among recent immigrants is in part a result of immigration law which, prior to the introduction of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) in June 2002, did not recognize common-law relationships.

Households

One in eleven households is a recent immigrant household

In 2001, there were 1,056,000 recent-immigrant households—households in which at least one member 15 years of age or older was a recent immigrant. These households made up 9% of the total number of households in Canada.

Nearly two out of five recent immigrant households, 416,000, have at least one member who immigrated after 1996. In over one-half of these households, all members 15 years of age and over are very recent immigrants. The remaining 198,900 households comprise very recent immigrants living together with other persons. In 67% of these households, the other persons were immigrants who landed before 1996; in 26%, they were Canadian-born; and in the remaining 7%, they were both immigrants who landed before 1996 and Canadian-born.

Table C-6: Immigrant households (by period of immigration) and Canadian-born households, Canada, 2001 (number and percentage distribution)
  Number of
households
Share of all
households
Canadian-born 8,578,100 74%
Earlier immigrants 1,876,300 16%
Recent immigrants 1,056,300 9%
  1986-1995 immigrants 640,300 6%
  1996-2001 immigrants with others 198,900 2%
  1996-2001 immigrants only 217,100 2%
All households 11,563,000 100%

Note: The total “All households” includes households of non-permanent residents not shown in the table. For definitions of household and related concepts, see the Glossary.

Three out of four households in Canada are comprised only of Canadian-born persons. Sixteen percent of all households include one or more earlier immigrants but no recent immigrants.

Recent immigrant households more likely to be larger than a nuclear family

A recent immigrant household is much more likely than a Canadian-born household to consist of one or more families. Five in six recent immigrant households are family households, compared to just four in six Canadian-born households.

One in three Canadian-born households is a non-family household, and most of these consist of a person living alone. Among recent immigrant households, only one in ten consists of a single person.

Most households consist of a nuclear family—that is, a couple with or without children, or a lone parent with one or more children living together. Immigrant households, except for households of very recent immigrants with others, are somewhat more likely to consist of just a nuclear family than Canadian-born households.

Table C-7: Immigrant households (by period of immigration) and Canadian-born households—household structure, Canada, 2001 (number and percentage distribution)
    Family households Non-family households
Households All family households Nuclear families Expanded families Multiple families Single person Multiple persons
Canadian-born 5,737,600 5,336,600 350,800 50,200 2,438,100 402,400
Earlier immigrants 1,415,600 1,264,300 119,300 32,000 399,500 61,300
Recent immigrants 883,200 688,200 123,500 71,500 118,400 54,800
  1986-1995 immigrants 531,300 427,400 71,200 32,700 78,200 30,700
  1996-2001 immigrants   with others 183,200 104,800 42,700 35,800 0 15,700
  1996-2001 immigrants   only 168,700 156,000 9,600 3,100 40,100 8,300
All households 8,060,200 7,311,400 594,800 154,000 2,976,900 526,000
 
Canadian-born 67% 62% 4% 1% 28% 5%
Earlier immigrants 75% 67% 6% 2% 21% 3%
Recent immigrants 84% 65% 12% 7% 11% 5%
  1986-1995 immigrants 83% 67% 11% 5% 12% 5%
  1996-2001 immigrants   with others 92% 53% 21% 18% 0% 8%
  1996-2001 immigrants   only 78% 72% 4% 1% 18% 4%
All households 70% 63% 5% 1% 26% 5%

Note: The total “All households” includes households of non-permanent residents not shown in the table. For definitions of household and related concepts, see the Glossary.

A significant proportion of recent immigrant households consist of a nuclear family living with other persons. In most of these “expanded-family” households, the non-family person or persons are related to the family. Expanded-family households are not unknown among Canadian-born but they occur much less frequently.

Households of recent immigrants are also much more likely than Canadian-born households to consist of two or more families. These families may be related to each other, as for example a married couple living with the family of one of their children. Multiple family households are most common among households combining very recent immigrants with others (persons who immigrated before 1996 and/or Canadian-born). Many recent immigrants clearly live in households that are different from the standard nuclear family.

Recent immigrant households tend to be large

Recent immigrant households are more likely to be large in size than Canadian-born and earlier immigrant households. One of every two recent immigrant households has one to three members, compared to three out of four Canadian-born households. The proportion of households with four or more members is twice as large among recent immigrant households as among Canadian-born households.

Table C-8: Immigrant households (by period of immigration) and Canadian-born households—household size, Canada, 2001 (number and percentage distribution)
  Number of persons in household Total
Households 1 to 3 4 or 5 6 or more
Canadian-born 6,640,200 1,759,700 178,200 8,578,100
Earlier immigrants 1,376,300 436,700 63,300 1,876,300
Recent immigrants 565,900 380,100 110,300 1,056,300
  1986-1995 immigrants 336,100 243,000 61,200 640,300
  1996-2001 immigrants with others 97,600 63,900 37,500 198,900
  1996-2001 immigrants only 132,300 73,200 11,600 217,100
All households 8,624,500 2,585,300 353,100 11,563,000
  Number of persons in household Estimated average size
Households 1 to 3 4 or 5 6 or more
Canadian-born 77% 21% 2% 2.5
Earlier immigrants 73% 23% 3% 2.7
Recent immigrants 54% 36% 10% 3.5
  1986-1995 immigrants 52% 38% 10% 3.5
  1996-2001 immigrants with others 49% 32% 19% 4.0
  1996-2001 immigrants only 61% 34% 5% 3.2
All households 75% 22% 3% 2.6

Note: The total “All households” includes households of non-permanent residents not shown in the table. For definitions of household and related concepts, see the Glossary. Average size of household is estimated assuming an average of 4.5 for households with four or five members and an average of 7 for households with six or more members. For households with one, two or three members, the actual size of household was used in the calculation.

Most of the larger recent immigrant households have four or five members. Households where very recent immigrants live together with others are most likely of all households to be large, with one in five of such households having six or more members. Only 2% of Canadian-born households are so large.

More care of children

The proportion of recent immigrants 15 years of age or over reporting time spent on unpaid care of children is higher than the proportion of Canadian-born persons. On the other hand, the share of recent immigrants spending time on a regular basis to look after elder persons is somewhat smaller than the share of Canadian-born persons.

The difference in time spent on care of children may reflect the fact that recent immigrants are more likely to have children and on average have more children than the Canadian-born. On the other hand, the incidence of care of elders is lower among very recent immigrants, even though extended families and multiple families, which may consist of several generations living together, are more common than for Canadian-born. This suggests that very recent immigrants have other reasons than care of elders for living in households larger than a nuclear family.

Table C-9: Immigrants by period of immigration and Canadian-born—15 years of age and over—reporting unpaid care of children or elders, by gender, Canada, 2001 (number and percentage)
  Care of
  Children Elders
Women
Canadian-born 3,924,100 32% 2,053,100 17%
Immigrants 1,147,100 41% 508,900 18%
  Immigrated before 1986 553,100 36% 318,600 21%
  Immigrated 1986-1995 382,300 48% 131,200 16%
  Immigrated 1996-2001 211,700 42% 59,100 12%
Men
Canadian-born 3,077,400 32% 1,394,700 12%
Immigrants 901,000 41% 372,800 14%
Immigrated before 1986 455,800 36% 231,000 16%
Immigrated 1986-1995 286,300 48% 96,600 13%
Immigrated 1996-2001 158,900 42% 45,100 10%
Total
Canadian-born 7,001,500 28% 3,447,900 14%
Immigrants 2,048,100 40% 881,700 16%
  Immigrated before 1986 1,008,900 38% 549,600 19%
  Immigrated 1986-1995 668,600 44% 227,800 15%
  Immigrated 1996-2001 370,600 39% 104,200 11%

 

Date Modified: