According to the data of the 2011 Population and Housing Census (PHC 2011), there were 599,832 households in Estonia. Compared to the previous, 2000 Population Census, the share of households with children younger than 18 years of age has decreased from 33.6% to 25.2%.
In 2011, one-family households accounted for 56.7% of all households (i.e. households with married or cohabiting couples or households with lone parent), where 75.7% of household members lived. Compared to 2000, the share of households with cohabiting couples has increased (from 10.1% to 13.6%) and the share of households with married couples has decreased (from 36.8% to 30.1%). The share of households with lone parents among one-family households has decreased by 1.7 percentage points. The number and share of households with one member has increased considerably.
There were a few multi-family households in Estonia, where e.g. the family of grandparents and younger generation lived together (1.6%), there were also a few non-family households with several members (1.8%) (e.g. households where two sisters or brothers or a grandparent with a grandchild lived together).
In 2000, there were children younger than 18 years of age in every third household (33.6%), in 2011 only in every fourth household (25.2%). The number of households with children aged less than 18 years decreased by more than 44,000, of which the number of households with one child decreased over 25,000 and the number of families with several children over 19,000.
The younger the children, the more often they live with cohabiting parents (41.3% of children aged less than 3 years, 20.5% of children aged 12–17). The older the children, the more often they live in families of lone parents (16.8% of children aged less than 3 years, 28% of children aged 12–17). The last fact characterises the trend of decay of families – many children are not born in the families of lone parents, but stay living with one parent as a result of the decay of the family.
Although the number of permanent residents has decreased by more than 75,000 persons compared to 2000, in 2011 the number of households has grown by 3%. This has brought along the decrease in the size of the average household from 2.33 members to 2.13 members. The share of one-member households has grown significantly (from 33.5% to 39.9%, but the share of households larger than average, first and foremost households with 3 and 4 members has decreased (from 18.8% to 15.9% and from 13.3% to 10.5%, respectively).
There are several reasons for the above mentioned changes. Firstly, compared to the 2000 Census the number of children younger than 18 years of age in total population has declined by 74,000. That is the reason why the number and share of households with children has decreased significantly, but in general the households with children aged less than 18 years are households with the biggest number of members. Secondly, the share of elderly people in population has increased who usually live alone or two together. The third reason is connected with the improvement of living conditions, as a result of which households connecting several families have often decayed and families have started to live separately. This is shown by the changes in the structure of households as well as in the size of living area and number of dwellings. Fourthly, the number of one-member households has increased on account of the growth in the number of students by more than 11,000.
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