Statistics Canada - Statistique Canada

Changing conjugal life in Canada


The increasing popularity of common-law unions is transforming family life in Canada, according to new data from the 2001 General Social Survey. Over the past 30 years, common-law unions have become more and more popular, especially in Quebec and among younger women in other provinces.

Although younger women are more likely to start their conjugal life by living common law, most will eventually marry. First common-law unions are twice as likely to end in separation as first marriages. What is more, a growing proportion of women have experienced at least two unions, and the likelihood of choosing a common-law relationship over marriage for the second union is also increasing. The analysis shows that the trends observed in the formation and break-up of unions apply equally to men and women. Since men are on average older than women when they start their conjugal life, they tend to experience the events at an older age.

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