Thursday 28.05.2020

Decrease in the number of families with children in Finland

In 2019, there were 1,221,456 persons living alone, or 30,159 more than in the previous year.
Decrease in the number of families with children in Finland

Finland is suffering a decrease in the number of families with children, especially with small children, which is in line with the decline in the birth rate.

According to the latest figures published by Statistics Finland, the number of families with children aged under 3 decreased by 5,565 families in 2019 from the previous year. Compared with 2010, the number of these families has fallen by 18%.

Of all family types, the number of families formed by a married couple and children aged under 3 decreased most, by as much as 26%.

Based on the data of the Population Information System, at the end of 2019 there were 1,467,368 families in Finland (1,313 less than one year before).

73% per cent of the population, or 4,013,944 persons, belonged to a family, which is 19,777 fewer than in the year before. The share of persons belonging to a family has been decreasing steadily. As late as 1990, their share of the population was 82%.

Families with children

The average size of a family was 2.74. As late as in 1990, the average size of a family was three persons.The total number of families with children was 558,302, which is 3,663 less from the year before.

A family with children has at least one child under the age of 18. The decrease in the number of families with children mainly indicates that the age groups of children coming of age in the families is larger than the new age groups being born. In addition to the size of age groups being born and coming of age, the number is also influenced by other factors, such as international migration.

A total of 38% of the population belonged to families with children. The most common type was still a family formed by an opposite-sex married couple, making up 57% of families with children. One-fifth of families with children were families of cohabiting couples.

The share of families formed by a mother and children among families with children was also 20%. Even though the number of families formed by father and children has grown, their number is still very low, 3%.

A same-sex married couple was a parent in 593 families with children and a registered couple in 245 families with children.

Average number of children

There were a total of 1,028,030 underage children in families with children, 9,965 down from the previous year. The average number of children was 1.84.

Of families with children, 43% had one child, 39% two children and 13% three children. 5% of families with children had at least four children aged under 18.

In family statistics, children are included in a family based on where they are registered. So, in case of divorce, the child is only included in the family of one parent even if the parents would in practice have joint custody.

Family types

Examined by family type, 64% of all Finnish families were families of married couples. The number of families formed by opposite-sex married couples and children decreased by 8,117 families from the previous year. The number of families formed by cohabiting couples and children, in turn, decreased by 304 families from the previous year.

By contrast, the number of cohabiting families without children increased by 4,091. Same-sex cohabiting couples are not formed in family statistics, but only cohabiting couples of opposite sexes are taken into consideration here.

The number of opposite-sex married couples without children grew by 1,606 families. The number of one-parent families also grew by 593 families. Unlike in previous years, the number of families consisting of a mother and children no longer grew but diminished by 129 families. In contrast, the number of families consisting of a father and children grew by 722.

Same-sex married couples

The number of same-sex married couples increased by 338, while the number of registered couples decreased by 128.

The development is a natural continuum of the amendment to the Marriage Act that entered into force at the beginning of March 2017, as a result of which part of registered partners have changed their partnership into marriage and new registered partnerships can no longer be formed.

There were 1,154 families formed by couples in registered partnerships and 2,318 families of same-sex married couples. Of them, 62% were families of female couples.

In 2019, there were 1,221,456 persons living alone, or 30,159 more than in the previous year.

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