Recent Immigrants in Metropolitan Areas: Ottawa—A Comparative Profile Based on the 2001 Census

Part C: Families and Households

Family and household affiliation of individuals

Nine out of ten recent immigrants live with relatives

Very few recent immigrants live alone. Like the Canadian-born population, a large majority of recent immigrants live in households with at least two people, and in most cases, these are people with whom they are related by blood, marriage or adoption. In fact, recent immigrants are more likely than the Canadian-born population to live with relatives. This difference is seen in all age groups, but is most notable among people aged 65 and over. Among Canadian-born seniors in Ottawa, two-thirds live with relatives, while nearly one-third live alone. By comparison, nine out of ten very recent immigrants aged 65 and over live with relatives, while only one in twelve lives alone. In part, these figures probably reflect a difference in the average age of recent immigrant seniors and Canadian-born seniors.

Table C-1: Immigrants by period of immigration and Canadian-born—living arrangements by age, Ottawa Census Metropolitan Area, 2001 (number and percentage distribution)
  Canadian-born Immigrants Immigrated before 1986 Immigrated 1986-1995 Immigrated 1996-2001
All Ages (including 0-14 years)
Living alone 64,550 15,710 10,880 3,140 1,700
Living with non-relatives only 31,050 5,850 2,450 1,930 1,470
Living with relatives 521,770 146,040 68,640 46,330 31,070
15-24 years
Living alone 3,040 450 120 230 120
Living with non-relatives only 9,240 990 280 440 290
Living with relatives 75,890 14,660 1,910 8,750 4,030
25-44 years
Living alone 23,980 5,210 1,980 1,940 1,290
Living with non-relatives only 15,650 3,220 1,030 1,170 1,030
Living with relatives 154,580 53,530 16,420 21,740 15,360
45-64 years
Living alone 19,680 4,570 3,760 610 200
Living with non-relatives only 4,490 1,160 780 270 110
Living with relatives 113,360 45,790 34,270 8,520 2,980
65 years and over
Living alone 17,870 5,490 5,020 390 100
Living with non-relatives only 1,040 470 370 80 30
Living with relatives 38,680 19,610 16,060 2,550 1,010
 
All Ages (including 0-14 years)
Living alone 10% 9% 13% 6% 5%
Living with non-relatives only 5% 3% 3% 4% 4%
Living with relatives 85% 87% 84% 90% 91%
15-24 years
Living alone 3% 3% 5% 2% 3%
Living with non-relatives only 10% 6% 12% 5% 6%
Living with relatives 86% 91% 83% 93% 91%
25-44 years
Living alone 12% 8% 10% 8% 7%
Living with non-relatives only 8% 5% 5% 5% 6%
Living with relatives 80% 86% 85% 88% 87%
45-64 years
Living alone 14% 9% 10% 6% 6%
Living with non-relatives only 3% 2% 2% 3% 3%
Living with relatives 82% 89% 88% 91% 91%
65 years and over
Living alone 31% 21% 23% 13% 8%
Living with non-relatives only 2% 2% 2% 3% 3%
Living with relatives 67% 77% 75% 85% 89%

Note: For definitions of living arrangements and related concepts, see the Glossary.

Recent immigrants more likely to live in extended families

Recent immigrants are similar to Canadian-born individuals in that most live in nuclear families, with no relatives other than the immediate members of the nuclear family. However, recent immigrants are more likely than the Canadian-born population to live in extended family situations. Of the Canadian-born population living with one or more relatives, only 6% are part of an extended family, compared to 8% of very recent immigrants and 14% of those who immigrated over the 1986-1995 period.

Figure C-1: Immigrants by period of immigration and Canadian-born—percentage living with relatives in an extended family, Ottawa Census Metropolitan Area, 2001 (percentage)
Figure C-1

Note: For definitions of extended and nuclear families, see the Glossary. Whereas Table C-1 includes all persons, Figure C-1 and Table C-2 include only persons who are living with relatives. A small percentage of individuals living with relatives are in “non-family” households. An example might be two adult brothers living together. The percentage of individuals in these situations is not shown in the table and figure in this section.

Extended family living arrangements are most common among older recent immigrants. More than one-third of very recent immigrants aged 65 and over live in extended families, compared to one in ten Canadian-born seniors. Older recent immigrants living in extended families are most often related to someone within a nuclear family and are not members of the nuclear family itself.

Table C-2: Immigrants by period of immigration and Canadian-born—living with relatives in nuclear or extended family, by age, Ottawa Census Metropolitan Area, 2001 (number and percentage distribution)
  Canadian-born Immigrants Immigrated before 1986 Immigrated 1986-1995 Immigrated 1996-2001
All ages
Nuclear family 483,630 127,770 61,100 38,860 27,820
Extended family 29,640 15,395 6,430 6,320 2,640
Under 15 years
Nuclear family 132,260 11,555 4,310 7,250
Extended family 6,850 830 430 395
15-24 years
Nuclear family 69,300 12,170 1,670 7,150 3,360
Extended family 5,150 1,805 200 1,180 440
25-44 years
Nuclear family 143,180 47,005 14,580 18,490 13,940
Extended family 8,080 5,420 1,580 2,730 1,120
45-64 years
Nuclear family 105,260 41,010 31,160 7,230 2,650
Extended family 6,240 4,285 2,720 1,220 340
65 years and over
Nuclear family 33,630 16,025 13,710 1,690 630
Extended family 3,340 3,060 1,940 770 360
 
All ages
Nuclear family 93% 88% 89% 84% 90%
Extended family 6% 11% 9% 14% 8%
Under 15 years
Nuclear family 95% 93% 90% 94%
Extended family 5% 7% 9% 5%
15-24 years
Nuclear family 91% 83% 87% 82% 83%
Extended family 7% 12% 10% 13% 11%
25-44 years
Nuclear family 93% 88% 89% 85% 91%
Extended family 5% 10% 10% 13% 7%
45-64 years
Nuclear family 93% 90% 91% 85% 89%
Extended family 6% 9% 8% 14% 11%
65 years and over
Nuclear family 87% 82% 85% 66% 63%
Extended family 9% 16% 12% 30% 36%

Note: For definitions of extended and nuclear families, see the Glossary. Whereas Table C-1 includes all persons, Figure C-1 and Table C-2 include only persons who are living with relatives. A small percentage of individuals living with relatives are in “non-family” households. An example might be two adult brothers living together. The percentage of individuals in these situations is not shown in the table and figure in this section. Consequently, the percentages in Table C-2 do not add to 100%.

Families

One in eight families in Ottawa is a recent immigrant family

In Ottawa in 2001, there were 85,900 recent immigrants who had landed in Canada between 1986 and 2001. A large majority of these immigrants—73,200 or 85%—were members of a nuclear family. In other words, they were husbands, wives, common-law partners, lone parents or children. Nearly one in seven families in Ottawa is a recent immigrant family—that is, a family in which either or both spouses or the lone parent are recent immigrants. In Canada as a whole, one in nine families is a recent immigrant family.

Most of the recent immigrant families consist of married or common-law couples, while 16% are lone-parent families, a share similar to that for Canadian-born families. When families are grouped by the age of the oldest member, it appears that lone-parent families are less common among young than among older recent immigrant families. The reverse applies to Canadian-born families.

Table C-3: Recent immigrant and Canadian-born families—family structure, by age of older spouse or lone parent, Ottawa Census Metropolitan Area, 2001 (number and percentage distribution)
  Canadian-born families Recent immigrant families
All families (including 15-24 years)
Couples with or without children 119,650 85% 25,750 84%
Lone-parent families 21,920 15% 4,790 16%
Total number of families 141,570 100% 30,540 100%
25-44 years
Couples with or without children 51,810 83% 16,900 85%
Lone-parent families 10,730 17% 3,020 15%
Total number of families 62,530 100% 19,910 100%
45-64 years
Couples with or without children 48,660 86% 6,980 84%
Lone-parent families 7,870 14% 1,300 16%
Total number of families 56,530 100% 8,280 100%
65 years and over
Couples with or without children 17,330 88% 1,640 82%
Lone-parent families 2,470 12% 360 18%
Total number of families 19,800 100% 1,990 100%

Note: For definitions of family and related concepts, see the Glossary. Since the 1996 Census there have been changes to the definition of family.

Recent immigrant families more likely to have children in the home

Recent immigrant and Canadian-born families differ in the proportion of families with children at home. Three in four recent immigrant families have at least one child of any age living at home. By comparison, just over six in ten Canadian-born families have children at home.

This difference occurs mainly among older families, when age of family is defined as the age of the oldest member of the family. Among young families, the proportion of those with children at home is similar for recent immigrant and Canadian-born families. However, among families of persons 45 and over, the share of families with children is 16 to 18 percentage points larger among families of recent immigrants than among families of the Canadian-born.

Figure C-2: Recent immigrant and Canadian-born families—never-married children living at home, by age of older spouse or lone parent, Ottawa Census Metropolitan Area, 2001 (percentage)
Figure C-2

The higher proportion of older recent immigrant families with children living at home could be due to a greater likelihood that older children stay longer in the parental home, as well as possible differences in the timing of childbirth and level of fertility. Some of the children in older immigrant families may be adults living with and possibly supporting one or two aging parents.

Older recent immigrant families have more children living at home

Recent immigrant families with children are more likely to have more than two children in the home than Canadian-born families with children. As many as 24% of recent immigrant families with children have three or more children, compared to 15% of Canadian-born families.

The share of families with three or more children differs little among young families. However, three in ten recent immigrant families with children whose older spouse or lone parent is 45 to 64 years old have more than two children, compared to 14% of Canadian-born families. Among the oldest recent immigrant families with children, 11% have three or more children living at home, compared to only 2% of Canadian-born families.

Table C-4: Recent immigrant and Canadian-born families—never-married children living at home, by age of older spouse or lone parent, Ottawa Census Metropolitan Area, 2001 (number and percentage distribution)
  Canadian-born families Recent immigrant families
All ages (including 15-24 years)
One child 36,860 42% 8,810 38%
Two children 37,260 43% 8,890 38%
Three or more children 13,400 15% 5,470 24%
25-44 years
One child 15,370 34% 5,890 38%
Two children 22,220 49% 6,230 40%
Three or more children 8,150 18% 3,360 22%
45-64 years
One child 16,580 46% 2,260 34%
Two children 14,250 40% 2,400 36%
Three or more children 5,180 14% 2,000 30%
65 years and over
One child 3,950 87% 540 67%
Two children 540 12% 180 22%
Three or more children 70 2% 90 11%

Majority of recent immigrants married to other recent immigrants

The majority of the 30,500 recent immigrant families consist of a recently immigrated husband married to or living common-law with a recently immigrated wife, with or without children. An additional 11% of families have a recently immigrated spouse and a spouse who immigrated before 1986. As many as 16% of recent immigrant families in Ottawa have a recent immigrant paired with a Canadian-born spouse. Of the families of immigrants who landed before 1986, about 45% consist of an immigrant with a Canadian-born spouse (not shown in Figure C-3).

Figure C-3: Recent immigrant families—family structure showing immigrant status of spouses, Ottawa Census Metropolitan Area, 2001 (percentage distribution)
Figure C-3

When recent immigrants enter into conjugal unions, they are very likely to do so as a legally married couple. Just 3% of recent immigrant couples live common-law, compared to 20% of Canadian-born couples. Even among younger couples, where common-law relationships are the clear preference of the Canadian-born, relatively few recent immigrant couples have chosen this option.

Table C-5: Recent immigrant and Canadian-born families—couples in common-law relationships, by age of older spouse, Ottawa Census Metropolitan Area, 2001 (number and percentage distribution)
  Canadian-born families Recent immigrant families
All ages 18,690 16% 470 3%
15-24 years 1,630 87% 30 36%
25-44 years 11,390 22% 350 3%
45-64 years 4,990 10% 80 2%
65 years and over 690 4% 20 1%

The low incidence of common-law relationships is in part a result of immigration law which, prior to the introduction of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) in June 2002, did not recognize common-law relationships.

Households

One in ten households is a recent immigrant household

In 2001, there were 38,700 recent immigrant households—households in which at least one member 15 years of age or older was a recent immigrant. These made up 12% of the total number of households in Ottawa.

Two out of five recent immigrant households, or 15,800 in total, have at least one member who immigrated after 1995. For more than half of these households, all members are very recent immigrants. The remaining 7,000 households consist of very recent immigrants living together with other persons. In these households, the other persons are immigrants who landed before 1996, Canadian-born and both Canadian-born and immigrants who landed before 1996.

Seventy percent of households in Ottawa consist of only Canadian-born persons. Households that include one or more earlier immigrants but no recent immigrants account for 17% of households.

Table C-6: Immigrant households (by period of immigration) and Canadian-born households, Ottawa Census Metropolitan Area, 2001 (number and percentage distribution)
  Number of
households
Share of
all households
Canadian-born 217,810 70%
Earlier immigrants 53,960 17%
Recent immigrants 38,660 12%
 1986-1995 immigrants 22,880 7%
 1996-2001 immigrants with others 7,010 2%
 1996-2001 immigrants only 8,780 3%
All households 312,500 100%

Note: The total “All households” includes households of non-permanent residents not shown in the table. For definitions of household and related concepts, see the Glossary.

Recent immigrant households more likely to be larger than a nuclear family

A recent immigrant household is much more likely than a Canadian-born household to consist of one or more families. The large majority of recent immigrant households are family households, compared to just two out of three Canadian-born households.

One in three Canadian-born households is a non-family household, and most of these consist of a person living alone. Among recent immigrant households, persons living alone are much rarer.

Most households consist of a nuclear family—that is, a couple with or without children or a lone parent with one or more children. Recent immigrant households are somewhat more likely than Canadian-born households to consist of just a nuclear family.

A significant proportion of recent immigrant households consists of a nuclear family living with other persons. In most of these “expanded-family” households, the non-family person or persons are related to the family. Expanded-family households are not unknown among the Canadian-born, but they occur much less frequently.

Table C-7: Immigrant households (by period of immigration) and Canadian-born households—household structure, Ottawa Census Metropolitan Area, 2001 (number and percentage distribution)
    Family households Non-family households
Households All family house-
holds
Nuclear families Expanded families Multiple families Single person Multiple persons
Canadian-born 139,150 129,145 8,805 1,200 64,525 14,140
Earlier immigrants 41,000 37,410 3,055 535 10,870 2,080
Recent immigrants 31,185 26,005 3,555 1,625 4,845 2,630
 1986-1995 immigrants 18,255 15,390 2,105 760 3,140 1,480
 1996-2001 immigrants with others 6,225 4,240 1,185 800 0 775
 1996-2001 immigrants only 6,690 6,355 260 75 1,700 380
All households 212,480 193,685 15,425 3,370 80,895 19,135
 
Canadian-born 64% 59% 4% 1% 30% 6%
Earlier immigrants 76% 69% 6% 1% 20% 4%
Recent immigrants 81% 67% 9% 4% 13% 7%
 1986-1995 immigrants 80% 67% 9% 3% 14% 6%
 1996-2001 immigrants with others 89% 61% 17% 11% 0% 11%
 1996-2001 immigrants only 76% 72% 3% 1% 19% 4%
All households 68% 62% 5% 1% 26% 6%

Note: The total “All households” includes households of non-permanent residents not shown in the table. For definitions of household and related concepts, see the Glossary.

Households of recent immigrants are also much more likely than Canadian-born households to consist of two or more families. These families may be related to each other, as for example a married couple living with the family of one of their children. Multiple family households are most common among households combining very recent immigrants with other Canadians. Many recent immigrants clearly live in households that are different from the standard nuclear family.

Recent immigrant households tend to be large

Recent immigrant households are more likely to be large in size than Canadian-born and earlier immigrant households. Three in five recent immigrant households have one to three members, compared to nearly four in five Canadian-born households. The proportion of households with four or more members is twice as large among recent immigrant households as among Canadian-born households.

Most of the larger recent immigrant households have four or five members. Nearly one in ten recent immigrant households have six or more members, compared to only 2% of Canadian-born households.

Table C-8: Immigrant households (by period of immigration) and Canadian-born households—household size, Ottawa Census Metropolitan Area, 2001 (number and percentage distribution)
  Number of persons in household Total
  1 to 3 4 or 5 6 or more
Canadian-born 169,940 44,500 3,370 217,810
Earlier immigrants 39,240 13,400 1,330 53,960
Recent immigrants 22,830 12,460 3,370 38,660
 1986-1995 immigrants 12,900 7,870 2,100 22,870
 1996-2001 immigrants with others 3,990 2,180 830 7,000
 1996-2001 immigrants only 5,930 2,420 440 8,780
All households 233,580 70,760 8,170 312,500
  Number of persons in household Estimated
average size
  1 to 3 4 or 5 6 or more
Canadian-born 78% 20% 2% 2.4
Earlier immigrants 73% 25% 2% 2.7
Recent immigrants 59% 32% 9% 3.3
 1986-1995 immigrants 56% 34% 9% 3.4
 1996-2001 immigrants with others 57% 31% 12% 3.6
 1996-2001 immigrants only 67% 28% 5% 3.0
All households 75% 23% 3% 2.6

Note: The total “All households” includes households of non-permanent residents not shown in the table. For definitions of household and related concepts, see the Glossary. Average size of household is estimated assuming an average of 4.5 for households with four or five members and an average of 7 for households with six or more members. For households with one, two or three members, the actual size of household was used in the calculation.

More care of children

The proportion of recent immigrants and very recent immigrants 15 years of age and over reporting time spent on unpaid care of children is higher than the proportion of Canadian-born persons in the same category. On the other hand, spending time on a regular basis to look after elder persons is not as common among very recent immigrants as among the Canadian-born.

The difference in time spent on care of children may reflect the fact that recent immigrants are more likely than the Canadian-born to have children living at home and, if so, more likely to have two or more children.

Table C-9: Immigrants by period of immigration and Canadian-born—15 years of age and over—reporting unpaid care of children or elders, by gender, Ottawa Census Metropolitan Area, 2001 (number and percentage)
  Care of
  Children Elders
Women
Canadian-born 95,320 30% 50,730 16%
Immigrants 36,690 42% 15,010 17%
 Immigrated before 1986 16,010 38% 8,690 20%
 Immigrated 1986-1995 13,120 49% 4,250 16%
 Immigrated 1996-2001 7,580 43% 2,080 12%
Men
Canadian-born 75,820 25% 34,930 12%
Immigrants 29,080 36% 11,290 14%
 Immigrated before 1986 13,810 35% 6,670 17%
 Immigrated 1986-1995 9,680 39% 3,160 13%
 Immigrated 1996-2001 5,590 33% 1,460 9%
Total
Canadian-born 171,140 28% 85,660 14%
Immigrants 65,770 39% 26,300 16%
 Immigrated before 1986 29,810 36% 15,350 19%
 Immigrated 1986-1995 22,800 44% 7,410 14%
 Immigrated 1996-2001 13,170 38% 3,540 10%
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