Type of union of couple

Status: This standard was approved as a departmental standard on May 26, 2021.


Type of union refers to the nature of the relationship between the members of a couple. Specifically, it indicates whether the members of a couple are either legally married to each other or living in a common-law relationship.

Couple refers to two people who usually reside in the same dwelling and are married to each other or living in a common-law relationship.


'Type of union of couple' is derived from the responses to questions about the relationships among the people who live in the household.

Conformity to relevant internationally recognized standards

This standard is compatible with the recommendations for censuses contained in the United Nations' "Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses, Revision 3", 2017. The UN recommendations include a classification of nuclear households (those consisting entirely of a single family nucleus) which includes the distinction between married-couple families and those containing partners in a consensual union.

This standard is also compatible with the "Conference of European Statisticians Recommendations for the 2020 Censuses of Population and Housing", 2015 which recommended classification distinctions similar to those in the UN recommendations.


Relation to previous version

  • Type of union of couple May 26, 2021 to current

    The name of the concept has been changed from 'conjugal status' to 'type of union'.

  • Conjugal status of couple October 19, 2015 to May 25, 2021

    This is a revision to the departmental standard 'Conjugal status of couple family'. The statistical unit has been changed to 'couple'.

  • Conjugal status of person 15 years or over October 20, 2008 to October 18, 2015

    This standard was replaced by the 'Conjugal status of couple' as of October 19, 2015.

  • Conjugal status of couple family October 22, 2007 to October 18, 2015

    'Conjugal status of couple family' was incorporated within the classification of the previous standard, 'Census family marital structure'. The current standards take a more simplified approach, presenting each classification dimension as a separate concept. This approach provides greater conceptual and definitional clarity while simultaneously allowing users more flexibility in constructing whatever more complex, multidimensional classifications meet their needs for data presentation.

  • Conjugal status July 18, 1998 to October 19, 2008
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