Family matters: Being married or common-law in Canada

Release date: May 1, 2019
Family matters: Being married or common-law in Canada
Description: Family matters: Being married or common-law in Canada

Family matters: Being married or common-law in Canada

In 2017, more than 7 in 10 adults in CanadaFootnote 1 aged 25 to 64 were married or common-law.

Married

  • 11 million people
  • 56% of adults aged 25 to 64
  • 18 years on average

Common-law

  • 3 million people
  • 15% of adults aged 25 to 64
  • 10 years on average

Average age at start of current marriage:

  • Women: 28
  • Men: 30

Average age at start of current common-law union:

  • Women: 31
  • Men: 32

Nearly 4 in 10 of those currently married had cohabited with their current spouse before marriage, on average for a period of 4 years.

Being married was more common among the foreign born:

  • Foreign born: 69%
  • Canadian Born: 51%

Living common-law was less likely among the foreign born:

  • Foreign born: 7%
  • Canadian Born: 18%

People in Quebec were by far the most likely to be living in a common-law relationship.

Percentage of 25-to 64-year-olds in a common-law union by region:
Percent
Atlantic Canada 15
Quebec 31
Ontario 10
Prairie provinces 9
British Columbia 11

Note: Data for same-sex couples could not be released from the GSS for marriage and common-law status separately. For more information on same-sex couples, refer to: Same-sex couples in Canada in 2016

Source: General Social Survey (Families), 2017.

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