Household composition statistics

Data extracted in May 2018. Planned article update: June 2019.

The largest decrease in the average household size in the last decade is observed in Lithuania, from 2.6 persons in 2007 to 2.1 persons in 2017.
One third of households in the EU were single person households in 2017.

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

Full article

Household size

In 2017, the average household size in the EU-28 was 2.3 members (Figure 1). The largest average household size was recorded in Croatia (2.8 members), while the smallest were observed in Sweden (1.9 members), Germany and Denmark (both 2.0 members). The largest decrease since 2007 was observed in Lithuania, with an average household size going from 2.6 members in 2007 to 2.1 members in 2017.

Figure 1: Average household size, 2007 and 2017 (average number of persons in private households)
Source: Eurostat LFS Survey

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 2017. The most common type of household was that composed of a single person (Figure 2), with one third (33.6 %) of the total number of households. This group also recorded the highest increase from 2007 to 2017 (3.7 percentage points (pp)). Households composed of two persons corresponded to 31.9 % of the total number of households in 2017 (0.8 pp increase since 2007). Larger households were less common and their share decreased with the increase in number of persons: 15.6 % were composed of three persons, 13.1 % by four persons, while households with five persons or more accounted for 5.8 % of the total number of households in 2017. 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 1.9 pp.).

Figure 2: Distribution of households by size, EU-28, 2007–17
Source: Eurostat (lfst_hhnhtych)

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 201 million in 2007 to 221 million in 2017 (Table 1). This corresponds to an average growth of 1.01 % per year. Luxembourg and Cyprus were the only EU Member States with an expansion in the number of households of at least 2 % per year, followed by Slovenia with an increase of 1.8 % per year. The only EU Member States with a decrease in the number of households from 2007 to 2017 was Croatia (0.31 % per year).

Table 1: Private households by household composition, 2007-2017 (number of households in 1 000 and % of household types)
Source: Eurostat (lfst_hhnhtych)

Household types

In 2017 in the EU-28, 29.6 % of private households were households with children (Figure 3). Across the EU Member States, the highest percentages were observed in Ireland (40.2 %), Poland (37.4 %) and Cyprus (36.7 %), the lowest in Germany (22.3 %) and Finland (21.9 %). The share of private households with children was particularly high in Turkey (51.9 %) and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (49.5 %), by far exceeding the average of the EU Member States.

The most common household type in the EU-28 in 2017 was a single person living alone (33.6 %). Among households with more than one adult, the most common household type consisted of 'couple without children', accounting for 24.9 % 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 44.3 million in 2017 (20.0 % of all private households).

Figure 3: Private household by household composition (% of private households), 2017
Source: Eurostat (lfst_hhnhtych)

Looking at developments since 2007, the share of EU-28 households with children decreased by more than 2 percentage points (from 31.9 % in 2007 to 29.6 % in 2017) and couples with children were becoming relatively less frequent (from 21.2 % in 2007 to 20.0 % in 2017). The share of single adults with children, however, increased (from 4.1 % in 2007 to 4.3 % in 2017). Over the same period, the proportion of couples without children and the proportion of single adults without children rose from 24.1 % to 24.9 % and from 29.5 % to 33.6 % respectively.

Figure 3 extends the analysis of household composition: Ireland recorded the highest share of couples with children (27.3 %), followed by Cyprus (24.9 %) and Poland (24.3 %). Ireland, moreover, registered a high proportion of single-parent households (6.3 %), making it the only EU Member State to have more than 40 % of its households with children (40.2 %). Only five EU Member States, namely Denmark (8.6 %), Lithuania (7.2 %), the United Kingdom and Estonia (both 6.6%) and Sweden (6.4 %) 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 Finland (21.9%) and Germany (22.3 %). Lithuania was the EU Member State with the smallest proportion of couples with children (14.3 %). The lowest share of single adults with children was, however, recorded in Finland (1.8 %), followed by Croatia (1.9 %), the only EU Member States where households composed of single adults with children accounted for less than 2 % of the total number of households.

Number of children

At EU level, almost half of all households with children (47%, or 31 million households) had only one child, while 40% (26 million) had two children, and 13% (8.5 million) three children or more (see Figure 4).

The highest share of households with three or more children was registered in Ireland (26%), followed by Belgium and Finland (both 19%), France (18%) and the United Kingdom (17%). At the opposite end of the scale, less than 10% of households with children had at least three children in Bulgaria (5%), Portugal (6%), Spain and Italy (both 8%).

Figure 4: Distribution of households with dependent children by number of children 2017 (% of households with dependent children)
Source: Eurostat (lfst_hhnhtych)

Source data for tables and graphs

Data sources

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.


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).


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.

Direct access to
Other articles
Dedicated section
External links

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


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)