1. Foreword

This story presents a summary of households and usual residents living in households in England and Wales in 2011 using the published census data on households and population. Analyses of household space, household size, housing tenure, usual residents and children living in households are reported at national and local levels.

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2. Key points

  • In 2011 there were 23.4 million households in England and Wales; this was a 7.9% rise from 2001 (21.7 million). In 2011 there were 55.1 million people living in households; this was a 7.8% rise from 2001 (51.1 million).

  • In 2011 there were 1.1 million household spaces unoccupied by usual residents, up from 0.9 million in 2001 (a 21% rise). These included holiday homes or apartments, those household spaces empty because of sale/transfer and properties containing short-term residents only who are not classified as usual residents.

  • The average household size in 2011 in England was 2.36 people and in Wales was 2.31; this has remained stable over the last three decades. Scotland’s average household size was lower (2.19) and Northern Ireland’s higher (2.54).

  • Households with six or more people rose 25% between 2001 and 2011. London had the highest proportion (3.9%) of households with six or more people, and saw the largest proportional increase between 2001 and 2011 at almost 50%.

  • 18% of all occupied household spaces were privately rented, an increase from 12% in 2001. This was the largest increase of all housing tenure types. The owner occupied category declined from 69% to 64% over the same period.

  • 47% (25.6 million) of the household population lived in households with dependent children in 2011; this was a decrease in proportion from 48% (24.3 million) in 2001. The number of adults living in households with dependent children was 13.5 million; this was 31% of all adults living in households. This compares to 12.6 million (32%) in 2001.

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3. Introduction

This short story highlights the characteristics of households and people living in households in England and Wales in 2011. A previous bulletin presented the first findings on population and households.

In the 2011 Census a household was defined as:

  • One person living alone; or

  • A group of people (not necessarily related) living at the same address who share cooking facilities and share a living room or sitting room or dining area.

This definition was developed to replace the definition used in 2001 (but both definitions are comparable):

  • One person living alone, or

  • A group of people (not necessarily related) living at the same address with common housekeeping - sharing either a living room or sitting room, or at least one meal a day.

The term “common housekeeping” was removed as it was considered too old fashioned and poorly understood by modern respondents.

There are a range of household types that reflect the living arrangements that exist between people. These are:

  • One person households,

  • One family households (Couple with or without children; single parents with child(ren),

  • Other households: multi-person households including unrelated adults sharing, student households, multi-family households and households of one family and other unrelated adults.

The underlying definitional assumption is that household arrangements are based on where people are usually resident1. In the definitions above children include adult (non-dependent) children.

The number of households in England and Wales increased by 7.9%2 between 2001 and 2011 (Table 1); Other households3 showed the largest increase (28%), whereas the number of one family only households increased by less (5.3%). One person households increased by 8.7%, slightly higher than the overall increase in households.

The household population is the total usually resident population enumerated at individual addresses and excludes those living at communal4 addresses. In 2011, 98% (55.1 million) of the usually resident population lived in households; the remaining 2% (1.0 million) lived in communal establishments. The proportion of the usually resident population living in households was the same as in 2001, but the number had increased by 7.8%. The increase in adults (all those who were not dependent children5) living in households since 2001 (9.0%) was larger than the total change in the household population (7.8%).

There were 1.5 million dependent children aged 16-18 included in the 12.1 million dependent children in households in England and Wales; this was a 26% increase from 1.2 million dependent children aged 16-18 in 2001.

Notes for introduction

  1. The usually resident population refers to people who live in the UK for 12 months or more, including those who have been resident for less than 12 months but intend to stay for a total period of 12 months or more. The population base for the 2011 Census was the usually resident population of England and Wales, defined as anyone who, on the night of 27 March 2011, was either (a) resident in England and Wales and who had been resident, or intended to be resident in the UK for a period of 12 months or more, or (b) resident outside the UK but had a permanent England and Wales address and intended to be outside the UK for less than a year.

  2. ONS publication policy is for percentages under 10 per cent to be rounded to one decimal place; those of 10 per cent or greater are rounded to the nearest whole number.

  3. Other households include: households of more than one family; households comprised of unrelated adults sharing; those including one family and other unrelated adults; all full time student households; and, all aged 65 and over (but not spouses or parent and child).

  4. A communal establishment is an establishment providing managed residential accommodation. ‘Managed’ in this context means full-time or part-time supervision of the accommodation. Communal establishments include sheltered accommodation units, prisons, hotels, guest houses, B&Bs and inns and pubs, and all accommodation provided solely for students (during term-time). More information is available in the 2011 Census Definitions.

  5. A dependent child is any person aged 0 to 15 in a household (whether or not in a family) or a person aged 16 to 18 in full-time education and living in a family with his or her parent(s) or grandparent(s). It does not include any people aged 16 to 18 who have a spouse, partner or child living in the household.

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4. Household spaces

Household space is the accommodation used or available for use by an individual household, at the defined address. In 2011 there were 24.4 million household spaces; 96% (23.4 million) of these were occupied by usual residents (households), the remaining 4.4% (1.1 million)1 were not occupied by usual residents2. Occupied household spaces increased 7.9% from 21.7 million in 2001; unoccupied spaces increased by 21% from 878,000 in 2001. An earlier ONS publication summarised growth in the number of households (and therefore occupied household spaces) in England and Wales since 1911.

Table 2 summarises household spaces and housing tenure for 2001 and 2011. Much of the increase in occupied household spaces between 2001 and 2011 was the result of a 21% increase in flat, maisonette, apartment, and other household spaces; there was also a 4.8% increase in houses/bungalows.

Housing tenure for occupied household spaces experienced a relative movement away from owner occupation and social renting towards private renting during the decade 2001-11. In 2011, 64% of households were living in owner occupied household spaces; this was a decline from 69% in 2001. However there was a numerical increase of 115,000 owner occupied household spaces over this period. A previous ONS publication identified that the majority of owner occupied properties were houses or bungalows. Social rented3 properties also saw a small decline from 19% in 2001 to 18% in 2011; this was a numerical decline of 39,000 socially rented properties. Privately rented household spaces increased from 12% in 2001 to 18% in 2011; this was a numerical increase of 1.6 million. Analyses of housing tenure over the previous century found that between 2001 and 2011 home ownership fell for the first time in a century. Possible reasons for this included: higher house prices, tighter lending requirements and lack of real wage growth with rising inflation.

In addition to the 23.4 million occupied household spaces, the 2011 Census identified 1.1 million household spaces unoccupied by usual residents, up from 0.9 million in 2001 (a 21% increase). These include holiday homes or apartments, those household spaces empty because of sale/transfer and properties containing short-term residents only (who are not classified as usual residents). This means that some of these unoccupied household spaces may not have actually been empty or unused as they may have contained visitors or short-term residents. Table 3 summarises the top 10 local authorities (LAs) with the highest proportion of unoccupied properties; 8 of the 10 local authorities were in coastal areas (including two in Wales) and are likely to be linked to holiday homes. Nine of these top ten local authorities were previously identified as areas with the highest proportions of second addresses. The City of London and Westminster were identified as the two local authorities with the highest ratios of short-term residents to usual residents.

Map 1 shows the distribution of unoccupied household spaces for all local authorities in England and Wales; the highest levels can be seen in a range of coastal areas: Norfolk, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Pembrokeshire, Gwynedd, Isle of Anglesey, South Lakeland and Scarborough.

Map 1: Proportion of unoccupied household spaces by usual residents for local authorities in England and Wales; 2011

Map 1: Proportion of unoccupied household spaces by usual residents for local authorities in England and Wales; 2011

Notes for household spaces

  1. Some numbers may not sum due to rounding.

  2. A household space with no usual residents may still be used by short-term residents, visitors who were present on census night or a combination of short-term residents and visitors. Vacant household spaces and household spaces that are used only as second addresses are also classified in census results as household spaces with no usual residents.

  3. Social renting is accommodation that is rented from a registered social landlord, housing association, housing co-operative or a charitable trust.

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5. Household composition

Table 4 shows an overview of household composition1, including whether dependent children were present, in the 2001 and 2011 Censuses. Households without dependent children represented 71% of all households in both 2001 and 2011; half of this group were one family households in 2011, including couples with no children living in the household, and couples and lone parents with only non-dependent children in the household. A further 43% were one person households.

The number of households with dependent children3 increased from 6.4 million in 2001 to 6.8 million in 2011 (a 6.3% rise). Dependent children are all children aged under 16 and children aged 16 to 18 in full-time education, excluding children aged 16 to18 who have a spouse, partner or child living in the household. The proportion of households with dependent children remained constant at 29% for both 2001 and 2011. One family households with non-dependent children only increased by 11% between 2001 and 2011, reflecting the increase in young adults living with their parents.

Table 5 summarises the number of usual residents living in households by household type for 2001 and 2011. The total household population of England and Wales increased by 7.8% in this period, very similar to the increase in households. Almost half (47% or 25.6 million) of all usual residents in households lived in households with dependent children in 2011. The biggest increase between 2001 and 2011 was for those living in Other households4 without dependent children (a 36% rise), followed by those living in Other households with dependent children (a 30% rise).

These changes indicate a growing diversity in living arrangements, with the rise in other households contrasting with more modest increases in couple households both with and without dependent children. This suggests that more people and families are living together in one household; this may be due to economic pressures such as higher property prices and living costs, and cultural factors in some communities. This is supported by the rise in concealed families identified in previous research.

Notes for household composition

  1. One family households are categorised by the presence of children into those with dependent children, those with non-dependent children only, and those with no children. Other households are categorised by the presence or absence of dependent children.

  2. Married includes those in a civil partnership.

  3. Households with dependent children include natural, adopted and step-children aged 0 to15 and those aged 16 to 18 in full-time education or training for work and living at home with parent(s) or grandparent(s) (excluding those who have a spouse, partner or child(ren) living in the household). Non-dependent children are all those living in a household with parent(s) or grandparent(s) who are not classified as dependent children.

  4. Other households include: households of more than one family; households comprised of unrelated adults sharing; those including one family and other unrelated adults; all full-time student households; and households in which all occupants are aged 65 and over.

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6. Households by size and housing tenure

Households can be categorised by size; that is, the number of people usually resident in the household. Proportions in each household size category (one person through to six person or more households) remained the same between 2001 and 2011. Nearly two thirds of all households in 2011 were either one person (30% or 7.1 million) or two person households (34% or 8.0 million) (Figure 1). A recent ONS publication summarised households by type for the UK and identified that 29% were one person households in 2013.

Figure 1 shows the largest percentage increase from 2001 to 2011 was in households with six or more persons, which increased by 25% from 433,000 to 543,000; this may be due to more people sharing household spaces owing to economic or cultural factors.

While the number of one person households has increased overall, changes in one person households varied by region/country (Figure 2). In 2001 London had the highest proportion of one person households (35%); however London was the only region to show a decline. In 2011 32% of households in London were one person households. Proportions were slightly higher in the North East and North West (both 32%). This may relate to regional variation in housing affordability and age structures.

Regional variations in housing affordability and age structure are also likely to affect the proportions of households including six or more people. London saw the largest increase in this category (from 2.8% to 3.9%), followed by East Midlands (from 1.7% to 2.0%) (Figure 3). The North East region had the lowest proportion of households with six or more people (1.5%) and was the only region to show a decline in the proportion of all households with six or more people since 2001.

Table 6 summarises the top 10 local authorities for one and six person or more households. One person households were common in London, where the majority of the top 10 local authorities were found. Reasons may include many younger professional people living and working in London, people living and working in London but also having a family home elsewhere and a higher proportion of single people in these local populations. Liverpool had a relatively high proportion of single people (ranked 18th out of all local authorities) which may explain its appearance in the top 10. Variations in marital status were highlighted in a recent ONS publication which discussed high proportions of single people in London and high proportions of divorced people in coastal settlements such as Blackpool and Hastings. This may contribute to the higher proportions of one person households in these local authorities.

The highest levels of households with six or more usual residents were found in London (five boroughs), two areas near London (Luton and Slough) and Bradford, Birmingham and Leicester. This may relate to a number of factors: all of these areas have been identified as having high proportions of concealed families, high levels of overcrowding and also have high proportions of the population identifying with Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi ethnic groups. The high proportions of six or more people in households may be a result of closer familial ties in Asian cultures. Further information is available in an ONS report on ethnicity in the 2011 Census.

Map 2 shows the proportion of households with six or more persons for all local authorities in England and Wales; the highest levels were found in several London boroughs, Luton, Slough, Bradford, Birmingham and Leicester, as identified in Table 6. Other locations outside the top 10 but also showing high levels were Blackburn and Darwen (Lancashire), Sandwell (West Midlands), Pendle (Lancashire), Manchester and Oldham (both North West).

Map 2: Proportions of six or more person households by local authority in England and Wales; 2011

Map 2: Proportions of six or more person households by local authority in England and Wales; 2011

Table 7 summarises household size and housing tenure type for England and Wales, comparing 2011 with 2001. There had been a consistent decline in owner occupation and social renting for all household size groups, with the decline most dramatic in the larger household sizes. All household sizes experienced an increase in private renting, most notably among the larger households (for example the proportion of four person households in the private rented sector doubled). This trend may reflect the general rise in house prices relative to wages in recent years and the growth of Other households where unrelated people are sharing accommodation (including students and younger workers).

Overall, owner occupation was lower in single person and six person or more households. The proportions of households in the private and social rented sectors were higher for households with six or more people (47%) and one person households (45%).

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7. Average (mean) household size

The average household size1 in England and Wales for both 2001 and 2011 remained unchanged at 2.36 persons. A recent ONS publication identified average household size for the entire UK at 2.35, which was similar to the European average. Since the 1911 Census, average household size in England and Wales has declined from 4.3 persons to 2.4 persons (Figure 4).

In previous decades, the decline in average household size was the result of increases in one person households, a rising age of marriage and a historical trend towards smaller families in the last century as a result of lower fertility. However, since 2001 there has been an increase in Other households (often containing larger numbers of unrelated people), an increase in the birth rate, increasing life expectancy and decreasing housing affordability. These factors may have prevented a further fall in average household size.

Average household size by composition of household

Table 8 shows average household size by household composition of households. Average size for households with dependent children was 3.77 people in 2011, similar to 2001 (3.80). Within this category, only other households with dependent children showed an increase in average size between 2001 and 2011 (4.75 to 4.87).

One family couple households without children are, by definition, all two person households; the average size of one family households with non-dependent children only remained stable at 2.93 for 2001 and 2.92 in 2011.

The average size of Other households without dependent children increased from 2.92 people in 2001 to 3.06 in 2011 and saw the largest percentage increase (5.1%). Within this main category, the Other category will include: unrelated adults sharing a household space and multi-family households with no dependent children; this category increased by 4.1% from 2.90 people to 3.02. This may reflect an increase in young working adults sharing accommodation and multi-generational households. Full-time student households remained virtually unchanged in 2011 with 3.77 people, compared to 3.76 in 2001, despite absolute increases in the number of full-time student households.

The number of Other households with all persons aged 65 and over, and the population living in these households, have both declined (by 25% and 23% respectively), while their average size increased modestly from 2.22 people in 2001 to 2.30 in 2011. This may reflect the change in definition from 2001 when the category was for pensionable age rather than 65 and over. This category includes unrelated adults aged 65 and over and relatives (siblings but not spouses or parents sharing with their child, and both adults aged 65 and over). The decline in number may reflect greater availability of specialised one person accommodation for older people and older married couples continuing to live together as a result of increased life expectancy.

Average household size by local authority

Table 9 summarises the 10 highest and lowest average household sizes for local authorities in 2011. The highest included eight London boroughs and the two nearby settlements of Luton and Slough. Six of these local authorities were in the top 10 for larger households (containing six or more persons); therefore reasons are similar and may include: younger populations who are more likely to share, economic factors such as housing costs leading to higher levels of household sharing, and cultural differences in extended families sharing a household.

By contrast, the smallest household sizes were found in four London boroughs, two local authorities on the Lancashire coast, two in Norfolk and two others in the South West; some of these are the same as for the one person households identified in Table 5. In some areas this may relate to the number of usual residents with a second residence elsewhere in the UK or abroad. City of London, Kensington and Chelsea, Islington and Westminster have all been identified as areas with high proportions of usual residents with a second address outside the UK. These may be people working in London with a family home elsewhere. High proportions of single people (Islington, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster), divorced people (Blackpool) or widowed people (Fylde, North Norfolk and West Somerset) in the population may also contribute to smaller household sizes.

Notes for average (mean) household size

  1. Average household size is derived from occupied household spaces by all usual residents and the total number of usual residents.
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8. Household size comparisons within the United Kingdom

The average household size in the UK was 2.35 in 2011 (Figure 5). Alternative Time series data from Communities and Local Government (CLG) for household size in the UK are available.

Within the UK, average household size in 2011 varied: in England it was 2.36, Wales was 2.31; while Scotland was lower (2.19) due to a higher proportion of one person households and lower proportion of households with three or more persons. The average household size in Northern Ireland was higher (2.54) as a result of fewer one and two person households and more households with three or more people; this may relate to differences in fertility. Northern Ireland’s total fertility rate was 2.02 in 2011, compared to 1.93 for England and Wales and 1.69 for Scotland, and has remained higher over several decades.

Figure 5: Proportion of households by household size in the United Kingdom and constituent countries, 2011

Figure 5: Proportion of households by household size in the United Kingdom and constituent countries, 2011

Source: Census - Office for National Statistics
Notes:
  1. 2011 Census Tables QS112EW, Scottish Tables A4 and A17 and NISRA Table KS403NI were used to create Figure 5.
  2. Percentages may not sum to 100 due to rounding.
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9. Dependent children in households

In 2011 the household population was 55.1 million; of these 12.1 million (22%) were dependent children1. There were 23.4 million occupied households; of these 6.8 million (29%) were households with dependent children. The average number of dependent children per household was 1.8. The number of adults living in households with dependent children was 13.5 million (31%) of the adult household population (all those who were not dependent children), compared to 12.6 million (32%) in 2001.

Figure 6 summarises the proportions of households with dependent children by household composition for 2011 and 2001 respectively. Married couple households accounted for the majority of households with dependent children in both 2001 and 2011; however the proportion declined from 60% to 52%. Increases were seen in all other categories, with cohabiting couples showing the largest increase (up 35%). Lone parents accounted for one in four households with dependent children (25%) in 2011.

Figure 6: Households with dependent children by household composition in England and Wales; 2001 and 2011

Figure 6: Households with dependent children by household composition in England and Wales; 2001 and 2011

Source: Census - Office for National Statistics
Notes:
  1. 2011 Census Table KS105EW and 2001 Census Table KS20 were used to produce Figure 6.

Table 10 shows the 10 local authorities with the highest and lowest percentages of households with dependent children in 2011. The highest levels were found in London boroughs and nearby local authorities around London (Slough and Luton), with Blackburn and Darwen the sole area outside the South East; many of these areas have been identified in Table 5 as having larger households. These may also be areas most attractive to young families (for example for schooling and availability of suitable housing). The lowest levels were found in five local authorities in different parts of England (all with older age structures) and five London boroughs; these low levels in London may reflect the young professional population structures locally.

The equivalent local authorities with the highest and lowest proportions of one family households with non-dependent children only in 2011 are shown in Table 11. Seven of the top 10 were industrial areas outside the South East of England: three were in Wales and four in the north of England. The remaining areas were two London boroughs (Harrow and Havering) and Castle Point (Essex). Possible reasons for these high levels of non-dependent children might include difficulties for young adults in gaining employment and accommodation.

The lowest levels were found in a mixed range of local authorities across England; in these areas many children may have entered the workforce, gone away to university or obtained their own accommodation away from their parents; all of these factors will have lowered the proportion of non-dependent children still living with their parents.

Notes for dependent children in households

  1. A dependent child is any person aged 0 to 15 in a household (whether or not in a family) or a person aged 16 to 18 in full-time education and living in a family with his or her parent(s) or grandparent(s). It does not include any people aged 16 to 18 who have a spouse, partner or child living in the household. Non-dependent children are those aged over 18 living with at least one parent, and those aged 16-18 not in full time education (excluding those who have a spouse, partner or child living in the household).
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10 .Background notes

  1. Relevant table numbers are provided in all download files within this publication. All data tables are available via the Nomis website.

  2. Further information on future releases is available online in the 2011 Census Prospectus.

  3. ONS has ensured that the data collected meet users' needs via an extensive 2011 Census outputs consultation process in order to ensure that the 2011 Census outputs will be of increased use in the planning of housing, education, health and transport services in future years.

  4. ONS is responsible for carrying out the census in England and Wales. Simultaneous but separate censuses took place in Scotland and Northern Ireland. These were run by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) respectively.

  5. A person's place of usual residence is in most cases the address at which they stay the majority of the time. For many people this will be their permanent or family home. If a member of the services did not have a permanent or family address at which they are usually resident, they were recorded as usually resident at their base address.

  6. All key terms used in this publication are explained in the 2011 Census glossary. Information on the 2011 Census geography products for England and Wales is also available.

  7. All census population estimates were extensively quality assured, using other national and local sources of information for comparison and review by a series of quality assurance panels. An extensive range of quality assurance, evaluation and methodology papers were published alongside the first release in July 2012 and have been updated in this release, including a Quality and Methodology (QMI) document.

  8. The census developed the coverage assessment and adjustment methodology to address the problem of undercounting. It was used for both usual residents and short-term residents. The coverage assessment and adjustment methodology involved the use of standard statistical techniques, similar to those used by many other countries, for measuring the level of undercount in the census and providing an assessment of characteristics of individuals and households. ONS adjusted the 2011 Census counts to include estimates of people and households not counted.

  9. The 2011 Census achieved its overall target response rate of 94% of the usually resident population of England and Wales, and over 80% in all local and unitary authorities. The population estimate for England and Wales of 56.1 million is estimated with 95% confidence to be accurate to within +/- 85,000 (0.15%).

  10. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

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Contact details for this Article

Chris W Smith
chris.w.smith@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1329 444683