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Video Summary: Families and Households in England and Wales, 2011

Released: 30 January 2013

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Transcript – Families and households in England and Wales

This is a short video on families and households and uses data obtained from the 2011 Census in England and Wales. Findings are compared with the 2001 Census.

First we will look at the marital and civil partnership status of the resident adult population in England and Wales; in 2011 this was 45.5 million, an increase of 4 million from 2001.  In 2011 47 per cent of the resident adult population were married; this is a decrease from 51 per cent in 2001. In 2011 there were also 105 thousand adults in a registered civil partnership, which accounted for 0.2 per cent of the adult population. This cannot be compared with 2001 as the legal status of civil partnership was only introduced in 2005.
The group that saw the largest increase over the decade were single adults, who made up 35 per cent of the adult population in 2011; this is a rise from 30 per cent in 2001. There has been a slight rise in those separated or divorced, which in 2011 included those whose civil partnership has been dissolved and a decline in those widowed, which in 2011 included the surviving partner from a civil partnership.

Next we will look at the household population; this is those who live in a household and therefore excludes those living in communal establishments such as university halls of residence, prisons and care homes. There were 23.4 million households with an average of 2.4 residents per household in 2011. These consisted of 55.1 million people in households, made up of 44.5 million adults and 9.5 million children. This is an increase from 51.1 million people in households in 2001.

In 2001, 10 per cent of the adult household population in England and Wales were cohabiting. Here is the regional breakdown for 2001. In 2011, the adult cohabitation rate in England and Wales has increased to 12 per cent. Here is the regional breakdown for 2011, and the dotted black line shows the England and Wales average.
In 2011, the highest proportion of cohabiting couples was in Yorkshire and the Humber with 13 per cent. London had the lowest proportion of cohabiting couples with 11 per cent. This may be partly due to the lower average age in London in 2011 of 33 years compared to 39 for England and Wales.

 Now we move on to compare the number of those living alone in England and Wales to the rest of the European Union. The rate for England and Wales in 2011 was 13 percent. Bringing in the bars for the other countries in the European Union, we can see that, Denmark has the highest proportion with 24 per cent of its total resident population living alone.
Now we look at the age breakdown of the adult household population living alone in England and Wales. Of these, those aged 65 had the largest percentage at 41 per cent. This is a percentage decrease from 44 per cent in 2001, while the number remained at 2.9 million. One reason for the large number of older people living alone is that many are widowed.
This map shows the proportions of those aged 65 and over living alone across England and Wales. The highest levels are in the Southern coastal areas such as Christchurch, Rother, Somerset and East Devon. The lowest proportions are in London.

Next we look at lone parents. In 2011 there were 2.5 million lone parent households; 1.7 million of these consisted of lone parents with dependent children. This has increased from 2001 where there were 2.1 million lone parent households; of these 1.4 million included dependent children.
Dependent children are those aged 16 and under with at least one parent, or aged 16 to 18 in full-time education.
In 2011 the region with the highest proportion of lone parent households with dependent children was London at 9 per cent, and the region with the lowest was the South West with 6 per cent. Around 9 in every 10 lone parent households are headed by a woman. The region with the highest proportion of households headed by a male lone parent was the North West, highlighted in red.

Now we look at families in England and Wales. In 2011 there were 15.8 million families; this has increased from 14.7 million in 2001. Of the 15.8 million families in 2011, 12.5 million lived in one family households where at least one person was aged below 65 and 1.9 million one family households where all residents were aged 65 and over. There were an additional 1.3 million families in other households.

Finally we look at children in these 12.5 million one family households. 33 per cent had no children compared with 49 per cent who had dependent children and 18 per cent who had non-dependent children only.
In 2011 37 per cent of married couple or civil partnership family households had no children, while 46 per cent had dependent children and 17 per cent had non-dependent children only. This compares to just over half of cohabiting couples who had no children, 41 per cent who had dependent children and 5 per cent who had non-dependent children only. Comparing these two groups a higher proportion of cohabiting couples had no children as these couples tend to be younger on average and therefore have not had children yet.
Finally 67 per cent of lone parent family households had dependent children, while 33 per cent had non-dependent children only.

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Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. This video accompanies the Families and Households in England and Wales, 2011 analysis.
  2. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

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