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Household estimates provide the estimated number of households in Wales based on the latest mid-year population estimates. They are similar to household projections but the key difference between the two is that household projections are based on future population projections whereas household estimates are based on past population estimates.

The latest household estimates are based on the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) population estimates for mid-2020, which were published on 25 June 2021. The household estimates use data from the latest available censuses of the population about household formation rates, and apply them to current population estimates.

Main points

  • Between mid-2019 and mid-2020, the estimated number of households in Wales increased by around 9,520 (0.7%) to 1.38 million, largely due to the increase in one-person households.
  • Since we starting publishing household estimates in 1991, the estimated number of households has increased by 23.8%, and since 2011, it has increased by 5.7%.
  • The estimated number of households increased for all 22 local authorities in Wales between mid-2019 and mid-2020.
  • At Wales level, the estimated number of people living in private households (or ‘household population’) increased by around 16,500 (0.5%) to 3.1 million.
  • In mid-2020 the estimated average household size for Wales was 2.26 persons per household compared with 2.52 persons in mid-1991.

Households in Wales

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Chart 1 shows that 1 adult (no children) and 2 adults (no children) are the most common household types in Wales in mid-2020.
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Chart 2 shows that the estimated number of households in Wales increased for the majority of household types between mid-2019 and mid-2020.

As at mid-2020

  • The number of one-adult households, and two-adult households with no children remain the most common household type, accounting for 32.3% and 31.2% of all households in Wales.
  • The number of households with children was 365,000, accounting for 26.5% of all households.
  • The estimated number of households increased for the majority of household types compared with mid-2019.
  • The estimated number of one-adult households with no children saw the largest percentage increase (up 1.1%).
  • The estimated number of one-adult households with children have increased by 0.9% compared with mid-2019, mainly led by an increase in the number of households with one child.
  • The number of households with no children were estimated to increase by around 8,700 (0.9%) compared with mid-2019, and the number of households containing adults with children were estimated to increase by around 800 (0.2%).

One-person households

It is estimated that the number of one-person households increased across Wales between mid-2019 and mid-2020, and that they continued to be the most common household type.

At Wales level, the estimated number of one-person households increased by around 4,800 (1.1%) since mid-2019. This increase is mainly driven by male households aged 30 or older.

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Chart 3 shows that one-person households are more likely to be male for the younger age groups (aged 16 to 59 years old), and more likely to be female for the older age groups (aged 60 or older).

As at mid-2020

  • It is estimated that the total number of males living in one-person households has increased by 1.7% since mid-2019, with one-person female households increasing by 0.5%.
  • It is estimated that people aged 60 or older account for 53.0% of one-person households, with aged 65 or older accounting for 44.4% of one-person households and people aged 75 or older accounting for 26.5% of one-person households.
  • It is estimated that one-person households are more likely to be male households for the younger age groups (aged 16 to 59 years old), and more likely to be female households for the older age groups (aged 60 or older).
  • The total number of female one-person households is estimated to continue to be higher than the number of male one-person households, at 226,600 for females compared with 218,700 for males.

Estimated number of households by local authority

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Chart 4 shows that the estimated number of households increased in all 22 local authorities in Wales between mid-2019 and mid-2020. The Vale of Glamorgan had the largest percentage increase of 1.5%.

Between mid-2019 and mid-2020

  • The estimated number of households increased in all 22 local authorities in Wales.
  • The largest increases in the estimated number of households were in Cardiff (around 1,400), the Vale of Glamorgan (around 800) and Newport (around 700).
  • The largest percentage increases were in the Vale of Glamorgan (up 1.5%), Newport (up 1.1%) and Torfaen (up 1.0%).
  • The Vale of Glamorgan and Newport saw the greatest percentage increases in the ONS’ mid-year estimates of the population during this period. 

Household population and household size

The household population is the estimated number of people living in private households. This is calculated by subtracting the population living in communal establishments from the total population estimate.

Communal establishments include residential care homes, university halls of residence, boarding schools and prisons. As communal establishment population estimates are not available on an annual basis, assumed numbers are calculated based on census data.

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Chart 5 shows that the estimated household population increased in 21 out of 22 local authorites in Wales, compared with mid-2019. Swansea was the only local authority with a decrease (of 0.2%) in its household population between mid-2019 and mid-2020.

Between mid-2019 and mid-2020

  • The estimated household population increased by around 16,500 (0.5%) in Wales, compared with an increase of around 13,800 (0.4%) between mid-2018 and mid-2019.
  • There were increases in the estimated household population for 21 of the 22 local authorities, with the largest percentage increases in the Vale of Glamorgan (up 1.3%) and Newport (up 1.2%).
  • Swansea was the only local authority with a decrease in the estimated household population (down 0.2%).This reflects the mid-2020 population estimates from the ONS, which showed that Swansea was the only local authority in Wales to see a decrease in its population estimate between mid-2019 and mid-2020.

Average household size

Average household size is the number of persons per household. It provides a measure of household composition and is useful for comparing different local authorities and time periods. It is calculated by dividing the estimates of household population by the estimated number of households. Average household size does not change much year on year, but has changed substantially since 1991.

  • The estimated average household size in Wales has been decreasing since 1991, reflecting the recent increases in one-person households.
  • In mid-2020, the estimated average household size was 2.26 persons per household, the same as in mid-2019
  • The estimated average household size was 2.52 in mid-1991 and 2.31 in mid-2011.
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Chart 6 shows that in mid-2020 the estimated average household size is the largest in Merthyr Tydfil at 2.40 persons per household and the smallest in Conwy at 2.16 persons per household.

In mid-2020

  • Estimated average household size continues to be lowest for Conwy (2.16 persons per household),Powys (2.17 persons per household) and Ceredigion (2.18 persons per household).
  • Conwy has had the lowest estimated household size of all local authorities in Wales since 2001.
  • 69.0% of all households in Powys were one-person or two-person households with no children, while in Ceredigion and Conwy, the corresponding figures were 68.8% and 68.7% respectively.
  • Conwy and Powys have the highest proportions of people aged 65 or older in Wales (27.9% and 27.7% respectively) according to ONS’ mid-year population estimates.
  • Estimated average household size is the highest for Merthyr Tydfil (2.40 persons per household), which has had the largest average household size of all local authorities in Wales since 2007.
  • Merthyr had the second highest proportion of people aged 0 to 15 in Wales (19.2%) according to ONS’ mid-year population estimates.

Comparison with the 2018-based household projections

The 2018-based household projections (local authority) for Wales were published on 4 August 2020 for the years from mid-2018 to mid-2043. Household projections give an indication of the future number of households whereas household estimates provide estimates based on recent trends in the population.

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Chart 7 shows that for mid-2020, household estimates were higher than household projections for 20 out of 22 local authorities in Wales. Swansea and Merthyr Tydfil were the only two local authorities whose household estimates were lower than the household projections.

Differences between the household estimates and the household projections are largely explained by differences between population estimates and projections, rather than any changes in formation rates of households. At Wales level the mid-2020 population estimates were higher than the 2018-based projections for 2020 by 0.5%.

For mid-2020:

  • at Wales level, household estimates were higher than projected in the 2018-based household projections, by around 7,100 (0.5%)
  • household estimates were higher than the household projections for 20 of the 22 local authorities
  • the largest percentage difference between the household estimates and household projections was in Ceredigion, where the household estimates were 1.7% higher than projected (just over 500 households)
  • Swansea and Merthyr Tydfil were the only two local authorities whose household estimates were lower than the household projections

Quality and methodology information

Full quality and methodology information will be published later in 2021, with more technical detail on these estimates, as well as for the household and population projections for local authorities and national parks (including variant projections).

These household estimates are not a count of the exact number of households in Wales as there is some uncertainty inherent in the estimate of the population as well as household formation rates. Both population estimates and household formation rates become more uncertain the further away from the most recent census, with the current set of population and household estimates being based on the 2011 Census.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS), who is responsible for the census in Wales and England, aims to publish 2021 Census data between spring 2022 and spring 2023. These household estimates will be updated to be based on the latest census data once they are released.

Comparability and coherence

Comparison with the Annual Population Survey (APS) estimates of households

The ONS’ Annual Population Survey also provides an estimate for the number of households in Wales by household type (ONS). The estimates from the Annual Population Survey are subject to sampling variability as they are based on a sample of household responses in Wales each year.

The household definitions used are broadly comparable with the Welsh Government household estimates (for further information, see the methodology and quality information (ONS)). The latest estimates from the Annual Population Survey are broadly comparable with the Welsh Government’s official household estimates, varying by local authority and household type. However, we consider these Welsh Government household estimates to be the official source for the estimated number of households in Wales.

Household estimates across the UK

Household estimates for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are published by the Office for National Statistics, the National Records of Scotland and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency respectively. More information can be found at:

England: Household projections (ONS)

Scotland: Household estimates (National Records of Scotland)

Northern Ireland: Population and household estimate (Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency)

The household estimates for Wales are calculated using a different approach to that used to produce household estimates for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Guidance on the differences between household estimates for the four countries of the UK is contained in the National Records of Scotland's ‘Household and Dwelling Estimates Across the UK’ report.

Related data for Wales

Household projections for Wales can be found on StatsWales.

Population estimates for Wales and England (ONS) are published by the Office for National Statistics.

Population estimates and projections for Wales at a local authority and national park level can be found on StatsWales.

Other housing statistics for Wales, including dwelling stock estimates and estimates of additional housing need can be found on the Statistics and Research website.

National Statistics status

The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

National Statistics status means that official statistics meet the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and public value.

All official statistics should comply with all aspects of the Code of Practice for Statistics. They are awarded National Statistics status following an assessment by the UK Statistics Authority’s regulatory arm. The Authority considers whether the statistics meet the highest standards of Code compliance, including the value they add to public decisions and debate.

It is Welsh Government’s responsibility to maintain compliance with the standards expected of National Statistics. If we become concerned about whether these statistics are still meeting the appropriate standards, we will discuss any concerns with the Authority promptly. National Statistics status can be removed at any point when the highest standards are not maintained, and reinstated when standards are restored.

The continued designation of these statistics as National Statistics was confirmed in August 2020 following a compliance check by the Office for Statistics Regulation . These statistics last underwent a full assessment against the Code of Practice in 2011.

Since the latest review by the Office for Statistics Regulation, we have continued to comply with the Code of Practice for Statistics, and have made the following improvements:

  • included additional analyses using a variety of tables and charts, including publishing data on our StatsWales website
  • made improvements to the presentation of the statistics, including publishing in html format to meet user needs
  • enhanced trustworthiness by reducing pre-release access.

Well-being of Future Generations Act (WFG)

The Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015 is about improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of Wales. The Act puts in place seven wellbeing goals for Wales. These are for a more equal, prosperous, resilient, healthier and globally responsible Wales, with cohesive communities and a vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language. Under section (10)(1) of the Act, the Welsh Ministers must (a) publish indicators (“national indicators”) that must be applied for the purpose of measuring progress towards the achievement of the Wellbeing goals, and (b) lay a copy of the national indicators before Senedd Cymru. The 46 national indicators were laid in March 2016. The estimates within this release are used to calculate the rate for indicator 34: Number of households successfully prevented from becoming homeless per 10,000 households.

Information on the indicators, along with narratives for each of the wellbeing goals and associated technical information is available in the Wellbeing of Wales report.

As a national indicator under the Act they must be referred to in the analyses of local wellbeing produced by public services boards when they are analysing the state of economic, social, environmental and cultural wellbeing in their areas.

Further information on the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

The statistics included in this release could also provide supporting narrative to the national indicators and be used by public services boards in relation to their local wellbeing assessments and local wellbeing plans.

Contact details

Statistician: Martin Parry
Telephone: 0300 025 0373
Email: stats.popcensus@gov.wales

Media: 0300 025 8099

National statistics

SFR 290/2020