Families and households
Updated: 25. June 2020
Next update: 22. June 2021
About the statistics
The statistics describe the size and composition of families and households in Norway. In addition, the statistics describe family relations from the child's point of view; whether the child lives with siblings and married parents, cohabiting parents or single parents.
The statistics covers all persons considered resident in Norway, according to the Central Population Register, on 1 January. The Population Registration Act of 16 January 1970 (with later amendments) and its provisions from 1994, define persons that are considered resident in Norway and how their address is determined. The total number of persons resident in an area is known as the total population. As from 1 January 2014 students that are registered in the CPR as living in their parents home are no longer part of the population of the family and household statistics.
Two persons are considered a couple when they are residents in the same household and are married to each other, registered partners or cohabitants, i.e. living together without being married or having a registered partnership. In addition to be living in the same household and be of opposite sex, two persons must fulfil at least one of the following requirements to be considered a cohabiting couple:
- have a child in common
- have checked out for being cohabitants in the Census 2001 questionnaire
- have been classified as a cohabitant couple in the system for data processing, control and revision
The data quality is not good enough to identify same sex cohabitants, and statistics for this group is accordingly not published.
Separated couples registered as resident in the same dwelling are considered a couple when they fulfil at least one of the 3 requirements above. Because a separated couple legally still is considered to be married, they are classified as married couples in the family and household statistics. Divorced couples still living in the same household fulfilling the same requirements are classified as cohabiting couples.
A child is defined as any person with no partner and no own children, who has de jure place of usual residence in the household of at least one of their parents. A child is either biological or adopted. A foster child is not considered a child in this statistics.
A family consists of persons resident in the same dwelling and related to each other as spouse, registered partner, cohabitant, and/or parent and child (regardless of the child's age). At most, a family may consist of two subsequent generations and one couple only. This means that persons that are married or cohabiting and/or living with their own children, do not belong to their parents' family. When persons that have previously been married are living with their parents, this is regarded as two families. Single persons are also considered a family, whereby all persons are part of a family, either together with others or on their own.
A household consists of persons that are permanently resident in the same private dwelling or institution.
A private household comprises persons resident in the same dwelling, where this dwelling is not an institution. An institutional household comprises persons who have board, lodging, care or nursing at an institution. Employees that are resident in an institution are always considered resident in a private household. The statistics does not provide any figures for institutional households; however the number of persons not living in private households is given. This group is referred to as resident in Other households and comprises persons resident in institutional households as well as persons of no fixed abode.
The composition of households is based on information from the registers mentioned under the headline Production; Data sources and sampling and Collection of data, revision, and estimation. Households may consist of one or more families. Persons belonging to the same family also belong to the same household.
Single persons are also considered a family, whereby all persons are part of a family, either together with others or on their own. A family that consists of two or more persons is known as a family nucleus. The Norwegian standard classification of families deviates somewhat from international recommendations. Internationally it is not recommended to include persons living alone in family statistics.
Families with children are families where at least one child is registered as resident together with the parent(s). Families without children are either de facto childless, or families where the children have moved out of the family home. migration).
The number of couples with/without children will vary depending on whether an age limit is set for children living at home. Based on an age limit of 18 years for children, couples with children over the age of 18 years will be classified as couples without children 0 - 17 years.
The standard classification classifies the households by types of families in the household. Since the definition of a family deviates a little from the international recommendations the classification of households will also differ a little from what is recommended internationally. If required it is possible to produce figures in accordance with international standards.
Name: Families and households
Division for Population Statistics
Municipalities and urban district in the four largest cities.
At present no international reporting.
Data files at the individual level that are processed and stored long-term.
It is possible to order special tables in addition to the tables that are published by contacting Statistics Norway.
Family and household statistics shall describe how families and households in Norway are composed per 1 January, that is, family and household statistics offers a cross-sectional picture of the family and household patterns. Since 1975 family statistics have been produced on the basis of information from the Central Population Register, at the beginning in line with the census family statistics of 1960 and 1970. The most profound changes in the statistics are the following:
Cohabiting couples (with at least one common child) were incorporated for the first time per 1 January 1993. Figures for 1987, 1989 and 1991 were produced at the same time.
From 1 January 1989 the age limit for being classified as a child was lowered from 20 to 18 years. Statistics for 1 January 1989 have also been provided with an age limit on 20 years.
Since 1 January 1995 registered partnerships (same sex couples) were included. Registered partnerships are counted together with married couples (with or without children).
Following a quality assessment in 1999, family statistics dating from 1 January 1999 are published with fewer details. This was related to the fact that the prevalence of cohabitation had become quite extensive. The number of family types was reduced from five to three: married couples without children, married couples with children, cohabitant couples with common children, and other type of families. The Family-types One-person-families and Single parents was dropped when many of those who were counted in these types of families actually constituted cohabiting couples without common children. The data-sources at that time did not provide the information necessary to capture this family type. Registered partnerships are included in figures for married couples.
As of 1 January 2001 an adjusted definition of cohabiting couples with common children was put to use. The change has resulted in a somewhat lower figures for cohabiting couples.
Family statistics were published every second year until 1 January 1999. Since then the statistics are published annually.
As from 1 January 2005 relatively large changes in the annual family statistics were put into effect. The introduction of a unique address for all dwellings made it possible to produce statistics also for cohabiting couples without common children. Furthermore the introduction of a unique address for all dwellings made it possible to produce an annual household statistics based on registers and formal address, that is statistics according to the household-dwelling concept. These changes are described in more detail under the headline "Production".
Prior to this release of family and household statistics for 1 January 2015, Statistics Norway made some changes in the routine for household formation. Unmarried students registered as living at home with their parents were now moved into households closer to campus, where they are actually living most of the time. Furthermore improvements in the routines to determine who actually was living in institutions even if they did not have de jure address at the institution were introduced. In addition, the family and household statistics were coordinated with the housing statistics. The figures originally published for 1 January 2014 were revised, and they are now directly comparable with the figures released after this point of time. The changes introduced resulted in a break in the time-series. More details under the headline "Production".
The statistics have a wide spectrum of users and applications, including research institutes studying demographics and living conditions, public administrations, the mass media and private persons.
The family and household file, which is the basis for family and household statistics, is used in the production of several subject matter statistics within Statistics Norway.
No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on ssb.no at 08 am. Prior to this, a minimum of three months' advance notice is given inthe Statistics Release Calendar. This is one of Statistics Norway’s key principles for ensuring that all users are treated equally.
The statistics are based on different registers and mainly legal residence address on 1 January. Experience shows that statistics based on registers and legal residence address result in larger households, fewer one-person households and fewer cohabiting couples than statistics from surveys based on interviews and place of usual residence. The advantage of the registerbased statistics presented here is that they can be broken down into very precise geographical areas.
As from 1 January 2014 The Family and Household Statistics and The Income and Wealth Statistics are based on the same population of households. In earlier times these statistics were based on two different, but still quite similar, populations. In the period from 1 January 2005 and 1 January 2013 figures from the two types of Statistics deviated a little.
In connection with the harmonisation of housing and household statistics for the 2011 census, it was decided to re-evaluate the routine for household formation. This resulted in around 13 000 persons who were previously regarded as resident in private households; mostly single immigrants with doubtful adress in Norway, being placed in the group “unspecified household status”. Similar ajustments were done in the annual houshold statistics for 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013.
The new family and household statistics based on registers will be comparable with the family and household statistics from the Population and Housing Censuses based on questionnaires. There may, however, occur minor deviations in the time series due to changes in data sources and methods for compiling families and households. Tabulations from the four latest Censuses (1980, 1990, 2001and 2011) have been made according to the current standard classifications of households and families .
Figures on the percentage of cohabitants in different age groups by sex is published based on information from the annual Travel Survey. In this survey the cohabitans are not required to be registered at the same adress in the CPR to be considered a couple. Statistics on marriages, registered partnerships, separations and divorces give information about formal family formation and family break-up.
The terms family and household must not be confused. A household can consist of several families and also of more than two generations, whereas a family can have one or maximum two generations (parent/child). The number of families will therefore always exceed the number of households.
The Population and Housing Censuses also publish figures for households and for families
Statistics Act § 10
Family and household statistics cover all persons registered as residents in Norway on 1 January. As from 1 January 2014 students that are registered as living at home with their parents while they are studying abroad are no longer included in the population of the family and houeshold statistics.
The statistics are based on data from The Central Population Register (CPR), The Cadastre and The Central Coordinating Register of Legal Entities (business register). For student with formal adress at their parents home additional information on de facto addresses are collected from several other registers.
The National Population Register (NPR) was built up from 1964 to 1966 on the basis of the 1960 Census, and at the same time the 11-digit national identity number was introduced as personal identification. The register contains those who took part in the census and further everyone who has been resident in Norway since 1 October 1964. In 1995 the Central Population Register at the Directorate of Taxes took over as the official register. The Office of the National Registrar, which administrates the CPR (and formerly the NPR), was in 1991 transferred from Statistics Norway to the Directorate of Taxes.
Updating of the Central Population Register is done partly by the regional population registries, which are connected to the CPR database via terminals, and partly by the Directorate of Taxes. Statistics Norway receives electronic copies of all these register updates. The reports are used to update a separate Statistics Norway population database kept for statistical purposes, which forms the basis for the statistics on the structure of the population and population changes.
Persons are grouped into families in the CPR through the allocation of family numbers. The family number is maintained by reports on marriages, divorces, deaths, migrations etc. Families in the CPR comprise married couples with or without children, lone parents with children and persons living alone. Only children who are registered at the same address as their parent(s) are counted as family members.
In order to produce figures for cohabiting couples and two or more-family households, and hereby all types of families and households, Statistics Norway processes information from the CPR. In addition some information from The Cadastre and the business register are used in this process. Data from the same registers are used to identify persons not living in private households (living in institutions, of no fixed abode)
Data on basic statistical units are taken from the address part of The Cadastre.
Reports (electronic copies) have been transferred daily from the CPR to Statistics Norway since January 1998, as opposed to previous monthly reports. Reports from The Central Coordinating Register of Legal Entities are also electronically transferred daily to the Business Register of Statistics Norway. Statistics Norway also downloads updates from The Cadastre daily.
In order to expand the statistics to comprise all cohabiting couples and also multi family-households, it was necessary to develop a comprehensive system for data processing, control and revision. This was essential done to be able to decide which persons that constituted couples, families and households in these particular cases. Especially errors and shortcomings in address information at the dwelling level made this necessary. The comprehensive system of data processing combines information on families and households from the questionnaire part of the Population and Housing Census 2001 with information per 1 January from the above mentioned registers.
The system for data processing, control, and revision mentioned above classifies two persons as a cohabiting couple if they are living in the same household, are the only adults living in the household, are of opposite sex, are not related, are 18 years or older and the age difference between them are less than 16 years.
The statistics is based on a full count of all persons, families, and households in Norway. From this point of view the estimation should be fairly simple. But due to shortcomings in the address information at the dwelling level, particularly in Oslo, we have to use a statistical method to adjust the results for persons living in multi-dwelling buildings. It is only figures for persons living in multi-dwelling buildings which are adjusted. Person figures for living, couples, families and households are adjusted and the adjustment is based on 6 different types of households, 7 age groups and sex (84 groups per region).
Since 2005 the adress information at the dwlling leve has impoved gradually. The effect of the adjustments made for persons living in muliti-dwelling buildings has decreased correspondingly. As from 1 January 2012 we no longer find it necessary to use statistical methods to ajust the figures.
As from 1 January 2014 measures has been taken to be able to determine who actually is living in institutions even if they do not have de jure address at the institution and to improve the establishment of households for students with de jure address at their parents place of residence. For students substitute addresses have been collected from other sources than the CPR (Posten, NRK, NAV and Lånekassen). We were able to collect substitute addresses for 50 per cent of the students actually living away from their parents' home. The remaining half has been placed in the municipality of study. and into households by a statistical method. Depending on the accuracy of substitute addresses the students are divided into 3 groups for different treatments. They are placed in households by the use of several variants of a statistical method called nearest neighbour imputation/clustering. As nearest neighbour we use students that have de jure address different from their parents' address in the CPR.
In the family- and household statistics figures for type of family and type of household for each municipality are published without suppression. This may reveal low values for some types of families and households in small municipalities. The statistics will still not be identifying beyond the information already needed to recognise specific households in the statistics. Due to quality problems small figures in tables are not exact values, but rather inaccurate estimates.
From 1 January 1989 the age limit for being classified as a child was lowered from 20 to 18 years. To facilitate comparisons, statistics for 1 January 1989 have been provided with an age limit on 20 year also.
Cohabitant couples (with at least one common child) were incorporated for the first time per 1 January 1993. Figures for 1987, 1989 and 1991 were produced at the same time.
Since 1 January 1995 registered partnerships have been included. Registered partnerships are counted as married couples (with or without children).
Effective from 1 January 2001 the definition of cohabiting couples with common children and living on the same address has been changed: Legally separated couples with common children and living on the same address have previously been registered as cohabiting couples with common children, due to the statistical definition of cohabitant couples (that is, common child(ren) and identical address). From 1 January 2001 these separated couples are excluded from this category and included in the group "Other type of family" instead.
Per 1 January 2005 relatively large changes in the annual family statistics were put into effect. The introduction of a unique address for all dwellings made it possible to produce statistics for cohabitant couples regardless of common children or not. Because of this we could raise the number of types of families in the published statistics from only three to all family types included in the standard (in total 24 at the most detailed level). After the change we no longer publish separate figures for cohabiting couples with common child. In the present statistics we only differ between cohabitant couples with children (regardless if it is common or not) and cohabiting couples without children. Furthermore the introduction of a unique address for all dwellings made it possible to produce an annual household statistics based on registers and formal address, that is statistics where all persons registered as living in a housing unit comprises the household (the household-dwelling concept). Previously it was only possible to produce household statistics based on a count of all individuals once every decade. This was done in connection with the Population and Housing Censuses, and the statistics was based on census forms.
As from 1 January 2014 a new routine was introduced for unmarried students registered in the household of their parents. Approximately 91 000 students were, based on adresses from other data sources than the CPR and statistical methods, move out of their parents' households and into housholds in the proximity of the place of study. In total this resulted in an increase of 46 000 housholds, which xorresponds to 2 percent of all households in Norway. Fifty-four persent of these students ended up as living alone, 26 percent i cohabiting couples in one-family-households, and 20 percent in different types of multi-family-households. Fourty-one of their parents households changed from a houshold with children to a household without children in this process.
The new routine lead to an increase of 2 percent of the total number of private households compared to the previous way of making the statistics. Living alone saw an increase of 4 percent, couples without children rose by 8 percent, and multi-family-households rose by 17 percent. In addition one-family-households with children 18 years and above dropped 18 percent and lone mothers/fathers dropped 5 percent. Average number of persons per household dropped from 2.20 to 2.15.
The main source for the statistics is the Central Population Register. Some errors made during the collecting and processing of the data are unavoidable; include errors in coding, revision and data processing. Extensive efforts have been made to minimize these errors, and Statistics Norway regards these types of errors to be relatively insignificant.
The main quality problem in the CPR is the incomplete registration of dwelling numbers for persons living in multi-dwelling houses. These persons are said not to have a unique address and this create problems in the formation of families and households. Per 1 January 2005 7 per cent of the population did not have a unique address, and the corresponding figure for Oslo was 22 per cent. Per 1 Januar 2012 these shares had decreased to 4 per cent for the whole country and 3 per cent for Oslo.
To improve the quality, rather comprehensive editing of the input data have been conducted. To further improve the regional figures, especially for Oslo, the data have been adjusted at a macro level. No specific calculations of accuracy have been done, but the figures are assessed to be somewhat less accurate than for instance the corresponding figures from the 2001 Census (where census forms were used to collect additional information).