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This topic has been updated with 2016 Census data for all areas. What's this?

In 2016, 24% of households in Australia contained only one person, compared with 23% in Greater Capital Cities, with the most dominant household size being 2 persons per household.

The size of households in general follows the life-cycle of families. Households are usually small at the stage of relationship formation (early marriage), and then increase in size with the advent of children. They later reduce in size again as these children reach adulthood and leave home. Household size can also be influenced by a lack (or abundance) of affordable housing. Overseas migrants and indigenous persons often have a tradition of living with extended family members which significantly affects household size.

Household size in Australia has declined since the 1970s but between 2006 and 2016, the average household size remained stable for the nation as a whole.

An increasing household size in an area may indicate a lack of affordable housing opportunities for young people, an increase in the birth rate or an increase in family formation in the area. A declining household size may indicate children leaving the area when they leave home, an increase in retirees settling in the area, or an attraction of young singles and couples to the area.

For greater insight, Australia's Household Size data should be viewed in conjunction with Household Summary, Age Structure, Dwelling Type, Household Income and Language Spoken at Home.

Derived from the three Census questions:

'Name of each person including visitors who spent the night of Tuesday, 9 August 2016 in this dwelling', and 'Where does the person usually live?', and 'Name of each person who usually lives in this dwelling but was away on Tuesday, 9 August 2016.'

Family, group and lone person households

Household size
Australia - Households (Enumerated)20162011Change
Number of persons usually residentNumber%Greater Capital Cities %Number%Greater Capital Cities %2011 to 2016
1 person2,023,53724.423.01,888,56624.323.4+134,971
2 persons2,768,28633.431.82,636,13934.032.4+132,147
3 persons1,338,37616.217.11,240,03416.016.8+98,342
4 persons1,313,55115.917.21,217,15115.716.9+96,400
5 persons557,2626.77.2523,7606.77.1+33,502
6 or more persons285,0673.43.7253,9813.33.4+31,086

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2011 and 2016. Compiled and presented by .id , the population experts.

Household size - Summary
Australia - Enumerated20162011Change
DwellingsNumber%Greater Capital Cities %Number%Greater Capital Cities %2011 to 2016
Occupied private dwellings8,861,619----8,181,751----+679,868
Persons in occupied private dwellings22,568,570----20,902,555----+1,666,015
Average household size (persons per dwelling)2.55--2.622.55--2.61-0.01

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2011 and 2016. Compiled and presented in profile.id by .id , the population experts.

The 'Dwellings' table is enumerated data.

Household size, 2016
Household size, 2016 6 or more persons, Greater Capital Cities: 3.7% 5 persons, Greater Capital Cities: 7.2% 4 persons, Greater Capital Cities: 17.2% 3 persons, Greater Capital Cities: 17.1% 2 persons, Greater Capital Cities: 31.8% 1 person, Greater Capital Cities: 23.0% 6 or more persons, Australia: 3.4% 5 persons, Australia: 6.7% 4 persons, Australia: 15.9% 3 persons, Australia: 16.2% 2 persons, Australia: 33.4% 1 person, Australia: 24.4%
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing, 2016 (Enumerated data)
Compiled and presented in profile.id by .id, the population experts.
Change in household size, 2011 to 2016
Change in household size, 2011 to 2016 6 or more persons, Australia: +31,086 5 persons, Australia: +33,502 4 persons, Australia: +96,400 3 persons, Australia: +98,342 2 persons, Australia: +132,147 1 person, Australia: +134,971
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing, 2011 and 2016 (Enumerated data)
Compiled and presented in profile.id by .id, the population experts.

Dominant groups

Analysis of the number of persons usually resident in a household in Australia compared with Greater Capital Cities shows that there were a higher proportion of lone person households, and a lower proportion of larger households (those with 4 persons or more). Overall there were 24.4% of lone person households, and 26.0% of larger households, compared with 23.0% and 28.1% respectively for Greater Capital Cities.

The major differences in the household size for Australia and Greater Capital Cities were:

  • A larger percentage of households with 2 persons usually resident (33.4% compared to 31.8%)
  • A larger percentage of households with 1 person usually resident (24.4% compared to 23.0%)
  • A smaller percentage of households with 4 persons usually resident (15.9% compared to 17.2%)

Emerging groups

The number of households in Australia increased by 526,448 between 2011 and 2016.

The largest changes in the number of persons usually resident in a household in Australia between 2011 and 2016 were:

  • 1 person (+134,971 households)
  • 2 persons (+132,147 households)
  • 3 persons (+98,342 households)
  • 4 persons (+96,400 households)

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