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State of BC families released in report

A new report produced by the Ministry of Children and Family Development offers insight into the challenges, goals and key priorities of B.C. families – and how they have changed over the past few decades. 

Titled Family Roots, the report is the Province’s first step in establishing a baseline of government programs and services for children, youth and families, upon which the success of future actions and investments will be measured.  

The report presents a snapshot of the changing face of families, from the stay-at-home moms of the 1960s to the rising incomes – and accompanying time challenges – of today’s predominantly two-working-parent families, who may still have kids living at home well into their 20s and 30s.

The report also examines ways in which government support for families has shifted over time to respond to the province’s changing social and economic landscape.

Issues such as child care; the growing proportion of lone-parent families; the importance of early learning, higher education and training; and parent support are touched on.

The rising proportion and profile of Aboriginal families – from 2.5 per cent of the province’s total population in 1961 to about 4.8 per cent in 2006 – changing attitudes and, over the past decade, a strong commitment to addressing historical inequities and building a new relationship with First Nations are also featured in the report. 

While Family Roots presents a historical perspective on B.C. families, first-hand information was gathered through a series of focus groups conducted this past fall with parents – and those without children – to gain their perspective and insight. 

To view the Family Roots report, visit:


The report

British Columbia has changed a lot since the sixties – and so, too, have families. The following is a quick look back at B.C. then, and now.

• An increase in the level of family income, thanks in part to more women in the workforce. We have also seen an increase in family stress and challenges.


Almost half of B.C.’s families are childless

• Forty-four per cent of families are childless.

• In the early 1960s, B.C. women had an average of 3.9 children.

• Today the average is 1.5 children.


Half the children of working parents are cared for by a non-relative

• In the 1960s, most children of working moms were cared for by family, friends or neighbours.

• By the end of the 1980s, about 50 per cent of the children of working parents were cared for by a non-relative, and almost 25 per cent were in a child-care centre.


Adult children are living in their parent’s home longer

• In 1981, about 20 per cent of youth aged 20 to 29 lived with their parents.

• This has grown to over 58 per cent of 20- to 24-year-olds, 26 per cent of 25- to 29-year-olds — and more than 10 per cent of 30- to 34-year-olds.


Aboriginal population is growing faster than non-Aboriginal population

- In 2006, Aboriginal people accounted for almost five per cent of the population of B.C.

- 24 per cent of the Aboriginal population was under 15 compared to the non-Aboriginal rate of 20 per cent.

- 42 per cent of the Aboriginal population was under 24 compared to the non-Aboriginal rate of 33 per cent.


Immigration fuels our population growth

• We have seen our population grow from 1.6 million people to 4.5 million.

• 70 per cent of our growth is from immigrants.

• Today, 75 per cent of immigrants come from Asia.

• In the sixties, 80 per cent of immigrants came from Europe.


In 10 years, almost one in five of us will be over sixty-five or older

• In 1961, B.C.’s population was young, averaging about 25 years old.

• In 2008, the median age had risen to 40.5 years.

• By 2040, it is predicted to reach more than 45 years.

• Before the 1990s, about 10 per cent of the population in B.C. was 65 or older.

• In 1997, this rate rose to 13 per cent, forecasted to grow to 17 per cent by 2021 and 25 per cent by 2056.