'Diverse forms of cohabitation': Modern Czechia's new family dynamics

Data released for International Family Day shows social and economic developments over the past two decades have had a big impact on family structure.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 16.05.2022 11:41:00 (updated on 16.05.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

Czech households have been changing dramatically over the past decades, with seemingly conflicting trends developing. On one hand, the Czech Republic is slowly becoming a nation of loners. But at the same time, the number of households with children has begun to rise again.

The number of households in which people live alone has been gradually increasing over the last 15 years, rising from less than 24 percent to about 30 percent. While the percentage of complete families made up of spouses or partners – either with or without children – has decreased.

Recently though, the share of households with children has started to grow again. There were almost 4.5 million households in the Czech Republic last year, about 470,000 fewer than 15 years ago, according to data from the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ).

"Over the past decades, the Czech family has undergone major changes against the background of dynamic social and economic development. … The expanding possibilities of diverse individual life paths are reflected in the changes of the family and increasingly diverse forms of family cohabitation," the ČSÚ report on the family stated.

Unmarried cohabitation, the postponement of family formation until later in life, the breakdown of unions and the repeated formation of new ones, the rise in the number of births outside marriage, weakened links between generations, and the unequal distribution of care between partners were some of the trends the ČSÚ noted.

People feel the need to have harmonic relations and a family, but their real cohabitation looks otherwise and family trajectories are turbulent, the ČSÚ noted. The situations are not always a result of a free choice, but rather of real conditions and social expectations, and pressure. "Nevertheless, a family with a married couple is still the most recognized form of cohabitation," the ČSÚ wrote.

Last year, half of the households were made up of a married or partner couple with or without children. In another tenth of households, adult descendants or other relatives still live with the couple and potential children.

Single-parent families of single or divorced parents with children and possibly other relatives live in almost 9.5 percent of households. Two-thirds of households were without children last year. Some 17 percent of households had one child, while there were two children in 14 percent, and just 3 percent had three or more children.

People lived alone in 29.9 percent of households in 2021. One-member and two-member households together make up over 60 percent of households in the Czech Republic. A total of 18 percent of households have three members, 16 percent have four members. Less than 4.5 percent of households have five or more members. According to statistics, there are 1.5 million retired households, almost half of whom live alone.

Some non-traditional living arrangements have been slow to catch on. There are less than 1 percent of so-called non-family households, such as colleagues or siblings living together.

In 2006, there were around 4.03 million households in the Czech Republic, and people living alone amounted to 23.6 percent. At that time, 35.7 percent of households had children. In 2011, there were 4.18 million households, with 23.7 percent living alone and 34.6 percent having children. One-child families accounted for 17 percent, while there were two children in 15 percent, and three or more children in 3 percent.

The number of households rose to 4.35 million in 2016, with single-person households now at 28.3 percent. Some 61.2 percent were complete families, consisting of married couples or partners, and about 9.4 percent of single-parent families. Households with children accounted for 32.5 percent. One child was in about 16 percent, two in 14 percent, and three or more in 3 percent of households.

Last year, the Research Institute of Labor and Social Affairs (VÚPSV) studied the families of two fathers and two mothers. Their number has risen significantly in recent years.


"It can be estimated that thousands of children live in such families now," the study says, adding that the monitored families lived standard life and brought their children up appropriately.

The study pointed out that in legal terms, children from these rainbow families can have only one parent and that registered same-sex partners do not enjoy the same rights as married couples.

"There is a lack of joint property of partners, inheritance and orphan's law, the right to parenthood, or a change of name," the study stated. It is important to promote the possibility of partners in the Czech Republic to adopt a child of their counterpart, the study stated.

"Such a possibility existed five years ago in countries that are culturally very close to the Czech Republic, such as Germany and Austria. Today, in both of them, marriage is already open to all persons without restrictions," the study concludes.

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