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Cohabitants are the fastest growing family type

They number 3.3 million of 19 million families in UK

The cohabiting couple is the second largest family type and the fastest growing, having more than doubled from 1.5 million families in 1996 to 3.3 million families in 2017. This, says the ONS in its latest Families and Households statistical bulletin, may be explained by an increasing trend to cohabit instead of marry, or to cohabit before marriage, particularly at younger ages.

In 2017 there were 19 million families in the UK, a 15 per cent increase from 16.6 million in 1996. With 12.9 million families, the married or civil partner couple family remains the most common in 2017.

Emily Knipe, of the Population Statistics Division, Office for National Statistics, said:

"In 2017, the most common family type in the UK was the married or civil partner couple family (12.9 million families). Opposite-sex couples were most likely to be in married couple families whereas same-sex couples were most likely to be in cohabiting couple families. This is likely to be because civil partnerships and marriages between same-sex couples in particular, are relatively new legal union statuses."

In the UK there were 27.2 million households in 2017, resulting in an average household size of 2.4.

In 2017, there were 3.9 million people living alone aged 16 to 64 years; a larger proportion were male (58.5%); similarly there were 3.8 million people living alone aged 65 and over but a larger proportion (66.5%) were female.
Young males were more likely to be living with their parents than young females; around 32% of males aged 20 to 34 years were living with their parents compared with 20% of females aged 20 to 34 years in 2017.

For the statistical bulletin, click here.