Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.


Family and household income
Economic family type
Census family type
Household type
Major income earner
Family and household classification


In general terms a dwelling is defined as a set of living quarters. A private dwelling is a separate set of living quarters with a private access. A collective dwelling may be institutional, communal or commercial in nature. Of the different types of collective dwellings, SLID covers only communal dwellings.


A household is defined as a person or group of persons residing in a dwelling. SLID defines households and families according to the living arrangements on December 31 of the reference year. Residents of Canada are also defined at those points in time.


Adults are defined in SLID as individuals 16 or older as of December 31st of the reference year.

Family and household income

Family income is the sum of income of each adult in the family as defined above. Household income is likewise the sum of incomes of all adults in the household. Family and household membership is defined at a particular point in time, while income is based on the entire calendar year. The family members or “composition” may have changed during the reference year, but no adjustment is made to family income to reflect this change.

Economic family type

"Economic family type” refers to either economic families or unattached individuals. An economic family is defined as a group of two or more persons who live in the same dwelling and are related to each other by blood, marriage, common law or adoption. An unattached individual is a person living either alone or with others to whom he or she is unrelated, such as roommates or a lodger. See Table B for detailed groupings.

Census family type

"Census family type” refers to either census families or persons not in census families. The term “census family” corresponds to what is commonly referred to as a “nuclear family” or “immediate family”. In general, it consists of a married couple or common-law couple with or without children, or a lone-parent with a child or children. Furthermore, each child does not have his or her own spouse or child living in the household. A “child” of a parent in a census family must be under the age of 25 and there must be a parent-child relationship (guardian relationships such as aunt or uncle are not sufficient).

Persons “not in census families” are those living alone, living with unrelated individuals, or living with relatives but not in a husband-wife or parent-unmarried child (including guardianship-child) relationship.

By definition, all persons who are members of a census family are also members of the same economic family.

See Family classification for more detailed groupings.

Household type

“Household type” groups households based on the number and type of economic families living in the dwelling. See Table 3 for detailed groupings.

Major income earner

This characteristic is important for the derivation of detailed family types (see Family classification). For each household and family, the major income earner is the person with the highest income before tax, with one exception: a child living in the same census family as his/her parent(s) cannot be identified as the major income earner of the census family (this does not apply to economic families).

For persons with negative total income before tax, the absolute value of their income is used, to reflect the fact that negative incomes generally arise from losses “earned” in the market-place which are not meant to be sustained. In the rare situations where two persons have exactly the same income, the older person is the major income earner.

Family and household classification

SLID uses the major income earner to classify families and households.

Table B
Classification of family types

Economic families (or Census families), 2 persons or more

Elderly families
  • Married couples
  • Other elderly families, male
  • Other elderly families, female

Non-elderly families

  • Married couples without children
  • Two-parent families with children
  • Married couples with other relatives
  • Lone-parent families
    • Male lone-parent families
    • Female lone-parent families
  • Other non-elderly families, male
  • Other non-elderly families, female

Unattached individuals (or Persons not in census families)

Elderly male
Elderly female
Non-elderly male
Non-elderly female

Table C
Classification of household types


One person households

  • Elderly male
  • Elderly female  
  • Non-elderly male
  • Non-elderly female

One economic family households

  • Non-elderly married couple without children
  • Non-elderly married couple with children
  • Non-elderly married couple with other relatives
  • Elderly married couple
  • Other family type (elderly male)
  • Other family type (elderly female)
  • Female lone-parent
  • Male lone-parent
  • Other family type (non-elderly male)
  • Other family type (non-elderly female)

Two or more economic family households 

  • Elderly male
  • Elderly female
  • Non-elderly male
  • Non-elderly female

Elderly family or household

The major income earner is aged 65 or over.

Non-elderly family or household

The major income earner is under age 65.

Married couples/spouses

Married couples, including legally married, common-law and same-sex relationships, where one of the spouses is the major income earner.


A child or children (by birth, adopted, step, or foster) of the major income earner under age 18. Other relatives may also be in the family.

Lone-parent family

Includes at least one child as defined above. Families where the parent is 65 years or older are excluded.


A person related to the major income earner by blood, marriage, adoption or common-law.

Other relative

A person in the economic family who is not the major income earner nor his/her spouse or child under age 18.