A reflection of the position of the family in Irish life can be seen by the composition of households. Although many factors influence household composition, the relatively low percentage of households consisting of one adult and no children (7% of all households), compared to households with children (66% of all households), shows the dominance of families composed of one or more adults with dependent children.
Only 15 percent of households are composed of two adults without children. The remainder of households are composed of three or more adults without dependent children. When the number of persons living in family households is calculated as a percentage of people living in all private households, the dominance of family households is all the more striking—with almost 88 percent of the population living in such households (Census 1996).
With rising house prices in the late 1990s, more young adults appear to remain in their parents' home for longer periods, including young mothers and their children. This probably accounts for the increase in households consisting of three or more generations. These households also include families where an adult child cares for a dependent parent. In both of these three or more generation family types, the key caretakers are women in their midlife, caring either for a parent or a grandchild. These are also the people who have the least attachment to the paid labor force.