Ever increasing numbers of ever smaller households

Fabienne Daguet, division Enquêtes et études démographiques, Insee

Households, which consist of a person or group of persons living in the same dwelling, are becoming smaller and smaller: On average, they are made up of 2.2 people in 2013, compared with 2.4 in 1999. More than a third comprise only one person, a third comprise two people, and scarcely a third are made up of three people or more. Thus, the changes that began in the 1970s are continuing; they result from population ageing and changing lifestyles (more separations, fewer large families, etc.).

In addition, the number of households is increasing: +4.2 million since 1999. Half of this increase is due to population growth, and half is due to the decreasing size of households. It is driven mainly by households made up of just one person or of a couple with no children. The people who most often live alone are the elderly: In 2013, 21% of men and 48% of women aged 75 or above live alone.

In 2013, 28% of households consist of a family with at least one minor member. The number of couples with children has remained stable since 1999, while the number of single-parent families has risen. The latter now account for more than one in five families with children.

Insee Première
No 1663
Paru le : 28/08/2017