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Now we have seen the criteria for inclusion of LS members in our study for each census date. The tables below show the results, giving the number of children aged 16 or under in each family type for each year.

Remember that cohabiting couples in 1981 are identified via the de facto spouse indicator, so the figures in this column must be regarded as a lower-limit only. Those cohabiting couples with children who were not identified as de facto spouses in 1981 will appear in this study as lone parent families. In most cases, the head of household will be male and so the family will appear as a lone father family. Therefore, the lone father category is inflated in the same way that the cohabiting category is under-sampled.

Number of children living in each type of family at each census

Family type
Year Married Cohabiting Lone father Lone mother Not in a family Total
n % n % n % n % n % n %
1971 122639 91.6 N/A n/a 1839 1.4 8522 6.4 859 0.6 133859 100.0
1981 106556 87.0 *2135 1.7 2105 1.7 10717 8.7 1009 0.8 122522 100.0
1991 86351 76.8 6515 5.8 1582 1.4 17277 15.4 781 0.7 112506 100.0

* Cohabiting couples in 1981 identified as de facto spouses.
"Not in a family" includes children being fostered and other children staying with a family to whom they are not related. Data extracted from LS 29/05/03.

The results show a trend towards increasing numbers of children living with lone mothers. Also, the number of children born to cohabiting couples increased greatly between 1981 and 1991. The decreasing total reflects falling fertility levels.