Census Data Points to Future Economic Inequality


Canada’s decline in marriage could mean less stability amid growing inflation concerns


July 13, 2022

OTTAWA, ON – The latest Canadian family census data confirm a continuing drop in the proportion of married families. According to Census 2021, married couples head up about 65% of all census families compared to 83% of all census families 40 years ago. 

Previous research suggests the decline of marriage has been unequal. Canadians with less education are less likely to marry compared to their higher educated peers. So, while married couples take advantage of the relative stability of marriage, including the economic security and increased social capital that stability brings, declining marriage among less educated Canadians will mean more future inequality.

“Marriage is more than recognizing mutual love,” says Peter Jon Mitchell, Family Program Director at non-partisan think tank Cardus. “The underlying commitment shapes how couples organize their lives. The stability of a commitment marriage has been shown to not only to benefit adults, but is linked to greater child well-being.”

An overwhelming majority of studies indicates that married couples are happier, healthier, and live longer than those who are not married. Moreover, there is strong research to back the conclusion that the quality of a marriage is a critical variable in the health benefits that couples enjoy.

Newly released census data show that the portion of children living in lone-parent homes appears to have remained fairly stable at about 19% in 2021. Lone-parent homes are disproportionately represented among low-income households. 

“Given today’s affordability crisis, leaders and policymakers can’t ignore family structure as a contributing factor to inequality,” says Mitchell. “Governments should consider how public policy can help Canadians achieve a healthy, stable family life.” 


Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus – Director of Communications

About Cardus
Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society’s institutions can work together for the common good.


Cardus is a non-partisan, not-for-profit public policy think tank focused on the following areas: education, family, work & economics, communities, end-of-life care, and religious freedom. It conducts independent and original research, produces several periodicals, and regularly stages events with Senior Fellows and interested constituents across Canada and the U.S.