Household composition statistics

Data extracted in August 2016. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: August 2017.

This article presents data on the household size and household type in the European Union (EU). The Labour Force Survey (LFS), a large household survey of people in the EU-28, is used to provide the estimates.

Figure 1: Average household size, 2005 and 2015 (average number of persons in private households)
Source: Eurostat LFS Survey
Figure 2: Distribution of households by size, EU-28, 2005–15
Source: Eurostat (lfst_hhnhtych)
Figure 3: Private household by household composition (% of private households), 2015
Source: Eurostat (lfst_hhnhtych)
Table 1: Private households by household composition, 2006-2015 (number of households in 1 000 and % of household types)
Source: Eurostat (lfst_hhnhtych)

Main statistical findings

Household size

In 2015, the average household size in the EU-28 was 2.3 members (Figure 1). The largest average household size was recorded in Croatia and Slovakia (both 2.8 members), while the smallest were observed in Sweden (1.8 members), Germany and Denmark (both 2.0 members). The biggest decrease since 2005 was observed in Lithuania, with an average household size going from 2.8 members in 2005 to 2.2 members in 2015. Croatia is the only EU Member State where the average household size increased from 2005 to 2015 (from 2.7 to 2.8 members).

Looking at the number of persons by household, almost two thirds of all households in the EU-28 were composed of one or two persons in 2015. The most common type of household was that composed of a single person (Figure 2), with one third (33.4%) of the total number of households. This group also recorded the highest increase from 2005 to 2015 (4.1 percentage points). Households composed of two persons corresponded to 31.4% of the total number of households in 2015 (0.7 pp increase since 2005). Larger households were less common and their share decreased with the increase in number of persons: 15.9% were composed of three persons, 13.4% by four persons, while households with five persons or more accounted for 5.8% of the total number of households in 2015. Over the last decade, the relative importance of the larger households fell, with the biggest reduction recorded among those households composed of four persons (a fall of 1.8 pp.).

With the average size of private households decreasing and the total population of the EU-28 continuing to grow (albeit at a relatively slow pace), there was an increase in the overall number of households. The total number of private households within the EU-28 rose from 199 million in 2006 to 219 million in 2015 (Table 1). This corresponds to an average growth of 1.1% per year. Luxembourg is the only EU Member State with an expansion in the number of households of at least 2% per year, followed by Slovenia and Malta, both with an increase of 1.9% per year. The only EU Member State with a decrease in the number of households from 2006 to 2015 is Croatia (0.5% per year).

Household types

In 2015 in the EU-28, 29.8 % of the population living in private households lived in households which had children (Figure 3). Across the EU Member States, the highest percentages were observed in Ireland (41.5 %), Cyprus (38.9 %) and Poland (38.4 %), the lowest in Sweden (21.6 %) and Germany (21.8 %). The share of the population living in private households with children was particularly high in Turkey (54.3 %) and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (49.4 %), by far exceeding the average of the EU Member States.

The most common household type in the EU-28 in 2015 was the single person living alone (33.4 %). Among households with more than one adult, the most common household type consisted of 'couple without children', accounting for 24.6 % of all private households (Table 1 and Figure 3). The next most common household type was composed of 'couple with children', of which there were 43.7 million in 2015 (20.0 % of all private households).

Looking at developments since 2006, the share of EU-28 households with children decreased by more than 2 percentage points (from 32.2% in 2006 to 29.8% in 2015), couples with children becoming relatively less frequent (from 21.3% in 2006 to 20.0% in 2015). The share of single adults with children, however, increased (from 4.0% in 2006 to 4.5% in 2015). Over the same period, the proportion of couples without children and the proportion of single adults without children rose from 23.9% to 24.6% and from 29.3% to 33.4% respectively.

Figure 3 extends the analysis of household composition to include the EU Member States, presenting data for 2015. Ireland recorded the highest share of couples with children (28.9%), followed by Cyprus (26.8%) and Luxembourg (25.3%). Ireland, moreover, registered a high proportion of single-parent households (6.2%), making it the only EU Member State to have more than 40% of its households with children (41.5%). Only four EU Member States, namely Denmark (9.1 %), the United Kingdom (7.2 %), Lithuania (7.2 %) and France (6.3 %), recorded a higher proportion of households composed of single adults with children.

By contrast, the share of households with children was at its lowest level in Sweden and Germany (21.6% and 21.8% respectively). Sweden was also the EU Member State with the smallest proportion of couples with children (14.4%). The lowest share of single adults with children was, however, recorded in Croatia, followed by Finland (1.6% and 1.7% respectively), the only two EU Member States where households composed of single adults with children accounted for less than 2% of the total number of households.

Data sources and availability

The European Union (EU) Labour Force Survey (LFS) measures the labour status and other characteristics of the population in an average week in each quarter. It covers all citizens living in private households and excludes those in collective households.

Under the specific topic 'Households statistics', the EU-LFS currently covers statistics on household composition and number and size of households. Only annual data are available.

Definition

A child is defined as a household member aged less than 25 years and in full social and economic dependence from other household member/-s (parents/ adults).

Context

In addition to the Labour Force Survey (LFS), the EU-Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) is also a source of household statistics. The EU-SILC is a multi-purpose instrument which focuses mainly on income. However, information on housing conditions, social exclusion, labour and education is also collected.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Publications

Main tables

LFS series - specific topic(t_lfst)
Number of persons in households (tsdpc510)

Database

LFS series -Specific topics (lfst)
Households statistics - LFS series (lfst_hh)
Population by household composition and number of children or age of youngest child (lfst_hh_p)
Employment by household composition (lfst_hh_e)
Employment by number of children and age of youngest child (lfst_hh_k)
Working status within households (lfst_hh_s)
Number and size of households (lfst_hh_n)
Living conditions (ilc_lv)
Private households (ilc_lvph)],
Average household size (source: SILC) (ilc_lvph01)
Distribution of households by household type from 2003 onwards (source: SILC) (ilc_lvph02)
Distribution of households by household size (source: SILC) (ilc_lvph03)
Distribution of households by household type and income level (source: SILC) (ilc_lvph04)
Distribution of households with children by number of children (source: EU-SILC) (ilc_lvph05)
Census - time series of selected indicators (cens_hn)
Housing (cens_hnhsng)
Households by size (number of persons) (cens_hndwsize)

Dedicated section

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

Methodology / Metadata