There were 2.3 million couple families with children in 2001, an increase from 2.2 million in 1986. These families may include young children, teenage students or adult children (e.g. in some families an adult child may be providing care for elderly parents).
The number of young couple families with children (where the reference person was aged less than 35 years) has declined over time. In 2001, these families comprised 20% of all couples with children, down from 29% in 1986. This decline reflects trends toward later partnering and childbearing. For example, over the 15 years to 2001, the median age at first (registered) marriage increased by around 3 years for both men and women, as did the median age of mothers (for all births in those years).
Among couple families with children where the reference person was aged 35 years or over, the largest increase was in those families with a reference person aged 45-49 years. These families comprised 16% of couples with children in 2001, up from 13% in 1986. Again this increase reflects trends toward later partnering and childbearing, as well as the tendency for children to remain in their parents' home for longer.
DISTRIBUTION OF COUPLE FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN
Source: ABS 1986 and 2001 Censuses of Population and Housing.
The majority of couple families with children have young children present. In 2001, 54% of couple families with children (where all the children were present on census night) had at least one child aged less than 10 years, the same proportion as in 1986. However, there has been an increase in the proportion of couple families in which all resident children are aged 15 years and over (29% in 2001, up from 27% in 1986).
In 2001, most couple families with children (89%) contained only the natural or adopted children of both parents. A further 6% were step-families and 4% were blended families. There were also 33,600 couple families (1%- some of which are