Families and households in the UK: 2021

Trends in living arrangements including families (with and without dependent children), people living alone and people in shared accommodation, broken down by size and type of household.

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Contact:
Email Amanda Sharfman and Pamela Cobb

Release date:
9 March 2022

Next release:
To be announced

1. Main points

  • In 2021, there were 19.3 million families in the UK, which represents a 6.5% increase over the decade from 2011 to 2021.

  • In 2021, there were 3.0 million lone parent families, which accounts for 15.4% of families in the UK; the proportions ranged from 13.1% in the South East of England to 17.8% in the North East of England.

  • The number of families that include a couple in a legally registered partnership in the UK has increased by 3.7% in the past decade, to 12.7 million; by comparison, the number of cohabiting couple families saw an increase of 22.9% over the same period, to 3.6 million.

  • There were an estimated 28.1 million households in the UK in 2021, an increase of 6.3% over the last 10 years.

  • The number of people living alone in the UK has increased by 8.3% over the last 10 years; in 2021, the proportion of one-person households ranged from 25.8% in London to 36.0% in Scotland.

  • In 2021, 3.6 million people aged 20 to 34 years were living at home with their parents; this represents 28% of people in this age group, an increase from 24% a decade ago.

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2. Families and households data

Families and households
Dataset | Released 9 March 2022
Families and children in the UK by family type including married couples, cohabiting couples and lone parents. Also shows household size and people living alone. 

Young adults living with their parents
Dataset | Released 9 March 2022
Total number of young adults aged 15 to 34 years and total number of young adults aged 20 to 34 years in the UK living with their parents. 

Families by family type, regions of England and UK constituent countries
Dataset | Released 9 March 2022
Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates including measures of uncertainty of the number of families by specific family types, for regions of England and also Scotland and Wales.

Households by household size, regions of England and GB constituent countries
Dataset | Released 9 March 2022
Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates including measures of uncertainty of the number of households by household size, for regions of England and also Scotland and Wales. 

Households by type of household and family, regions of England and GB constituent countries
Dataset | Released 9 March 2022
Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates including measures of uncertainty of the number of households by types of household and families, for regions of England and also Scotland and Wales.

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3. Measuring the data

The Families and households' estimates are produced using the April to June quarter of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) (household dataset). This is a large-scale UK household survey carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) that interviews approximately 40,000 households per quarter. Most communal establishments are excluded from the LFS, except for National Health Service accommodation. Students in halls of residence are included through the parental home. 

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected the data collection and weighting methodology of the LFS. More information can be found in Coronavirus and its impact on the Labour Force Survey and in blog posts titled Measuring the labour market during Coronavirus and Understanding the impact of Covid-19 on UK population.  

The LFS data for periods from January to March 2020 has been reweighted, improving the UK, EU and non-EU born population estimates. This release of Families and Households' data adds the 2021 estimates to the previously published estimates for 1996 to 2020. Estimates for 2020 have also been reweighted, and confidence intervals for the 2020 estimates have been provided for the first time.  

The ONS plans a further reweighting of the LFS and Annual Population Survey (APS) datasets that include data from March 2020. Details of these plans, including a timeline, will be included in the March edition of our Labour market overview bulletin.  

Our Families and households statistics explained article provides further information on the complexities around the definitions and how these relate to situations people might be experiencing. There have recently been legislative changes to marriages and civil partnerships in the UK that will affect future statistics on families and households. Further details of these changes and when they came into effect are also provided in our Families and household statistics explained article. 

Measures of quality such as confidence intervals (to show the levels of uncertainty associated with survey estimates) are presented in the datasets. Users are advised to consult the quality measures when interpreting the estimates. 

The upcoming publication of Census 2021 results will provide high-quality estimates of families and households within England and Wales. The results will give us the richest picture of society across England and Wales. We will have more information about the release schedule in early Summer 2022. Additional information can be found in our population statistics and sources guide.

Quality

Alongside this release, we have published a user guide on household estimates and projections across the UK. This provides further detail on the coherence and comparability of household estimates across the UK. We will no longer be publishing Labour Force Survey (LFS) based estimates of households for Northern Ireland. LFS-based estimates of households are still available for England, Scotland and Wales. These should be used when making comparisons with estimates for the UK as a whole, or across UK countries.   

The National Records of Scotland (NRS), the Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) publish the official estimates of households for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively. These should be used when analysing household estimates at national and sub-national level. 

More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in the Families and households QMI.

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Amanda Sharfman and Pamela Cobb
pop.info@ons.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 1329 444661