2. Three per cent of families are all-foreign language speaking

In 88 per cent of all families the only parent or both parents are Finnish-speaking. Correspondingly, four per cent of families are entirely Swedish-speaking. Families where one spouse is Swedish-speaking and the other Finnish-speaking account for three per cent of all families. Combinations of Finnish or Swedish-speakers with speakers of other languages can be found in three per cent of all families. Families where both spouses or the only parent are foreign-language speakers number 38,300, which is three per cent of all families.

In clearly more cases, Swedish-speaking men have Finnish-speaking spouses than Swedish-speaking women Finnish-speaking spouses. The number of purely Swedish-speaking couples is only 5,000 higher than that of Finnish and Swedish-speaking couples.

Altogether, 23,200 of Finnish or Swedish-speaking men are married to or cohabiting with a foreign-language speaking woman. The corresponding figure for women is 18,700. Partnerships with foreign-language speakers have increased by 2,100.

Table 4. Families speaking Finnish, Swedish or other language in 1990–2010

Corrected on 24 January 2012. The corrections are indicated in red.
Man/woman speaking Finnish/other language Year
1990 1995 2000 2005 2010
Finnish speaking man and finnish speaking woman 1 088 742 1 081 473 1 089 232 1 105 316 1 114 828
Finnish speaking man and swedish speaking woman 16 544 16 876 17 394 17 904 18 337
Finnish speaking woman and swedish speaking man 22 734 22 822 23 445 24 218 24 552
Finnish speaking man and foreign speaking woman 4 020 7 636 11 094 16 062 21 772
Finnish speaking woman and foreign speaking man 5 951 8 679 10 236 13 181 17 441
Finnish speaking mother/father 162 209 174 554 174 861 166 741 161 302
Swedish speaking man and swedish speaking woman 53 348 50 845 49 198 48 190 47 881
Swedish speaking man and foreign speaking woman 300 483 655 982 1 434
Swedish speaking woman and foreign speaking man 410 597 678 943 1 261
Swedish speaking mother/father 8 489 8 871 8 609 8 147 7 953
Foreign speaking man and foreign speaking woman 1 832 7 425 11 668 16 944 27 638
Foreign speaking mother/father 762 2 709 4 893 7 374 10 674

2.1 Russian speakers still the largest group among foreign-language speaking families

There are 11,200 families in which both spouses or the only parent is Russian-speaking. The number of families where either one of the spouses is Russian-speaking is slightly lower at 10,400. The number of Russian-speaking families is some 800 higher than in the year before.

The most common language combination among the Russian-speaking families is one where the husband and the wife speak Russian. During 2010, the number of such couples grew by around 400.

Families of a Finnish-speaking man and a Russian-speaking wife are almost equally widespread. In 1990 there were only 300 Russian-speaking couples in Finland, but today their number has already gone up to 7,700. One-parent families with a Russian-speaking mother already number 3,400.

It is still rare for a Finnish-speaking woman to have a Russian-speaking spouse. However, their number (1,300) has more than quadrupled from 1990.

2.2 Finnish husband and foreign wife

In only 4.4 per cent (64,800 families) of all families in Finland at least one of the spouses or the only parent is a foreign citizen. There were only 12,500 such families in Finland in 1990 but 36,000 in 2000. In the past year the number of such families has increased by 4,300. The number of families in which both the husband and wife are foreign nationals grew the most.

In the early 1990s, the most common combination in families of foreign citizens was one where the wife was a Finnish citizen and the husband a foreign citizen. The number of foreign families in which the wife was a foreign national and the husband a Finnish national was the largest at the beginning of the 2000s. The most common combination among the foreign families is still one of Finnish husband and foreign wife, and the second most common is one where the husband is foreign and the wife Finnish. No distinction is made between married and cohabiting couples in these statistics.

Entirely foreign families, i.e. families where the only parent or both spouses are foreign citizens, total 25,800. The largest group among them are families of Russian citizens. At the end of 2010, there were 5,400 families in Finland in which both spouses or the only parent were Russian citizens. The number of families of Russian citizens did not grow during 2010, which may be explained by the receiving of Finnish citizenship.

There were 4,800 entirely Estonian families of which one-third were families consisting of mother and children only. The number of Estonian families increased by nearly 700 from the year before.

Families of two Somali citizens or with one Somali parent numbered slightly under 900. The number of these families grew by a hundred or so from the previous year. Slightly over one-half of the families of Somali citizens are families of mother and children only. Many of the Somali families that moved to Finland in the past have already lived in the country long enough to have received Finnish citizenship. On the basis of mother tongue, there are 1,600 families where both spouses or one parent were originally Somali citizens.

Figure 3. Families of foreign citizens in 1990, 2000 and 2010

Figure 3. Families of foreign citizens in 1990, 2000 and 2010

2.3 Women's and men's foreign-born spouses from different countries

An examination of countries of birth gives the best picture of the foreign spouses of Finns. However, it should be borne in mind that some originally Finnish citizens are also born abroad. Finnish-born men have 32,700 foreign-born spouses. The number grew by nearly 1,300 from the year before.

Finnish-born women have 28,400 foreign-born spouses; the number having grown by 1,200. Today, Finnish men have spouses with foreign background more often than Finnish women have.

The foreign-born spouses of Finnish men and women come from a variety of countries. The men's spouses have mainly been born in the neighbouring countries in west, east and south alike. Those born in the area of the former Soviet Union cannot be separated into Russians or Estonians (or those born in other republics of the former Soviet Union), because even the Estonians' country of birth is mostly the Soviet Union and a large number of the spouses from Estonia had already come to Finland before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Finnish men have 10,600 spouses who were born in the former Soviet Union, Russia or Estonia, and 8,200 spouses who were born in Sweden. Spouses born in Thailand number almost 3,300, and their number increased by 300 from last year. Next come spouses born in Germany, China, the Philippines, the USA, Poland and Great Britain.

Women's foreign-born spouses come from a larger variety of countries than men's spouses. After the 8,300 Swedish-born spouses, the second largest group of women’s foreign-born spouses were also those born in the areas of the former Soviet Union. Husbands born in the former Soviet Union, Russia and Estonia number 2,200, which is nearly 200 more than in the year before. The next most frequent countries of birth of Finnish women' foreign spouses are Great Britain, Germany, Turkey and the USA. The total number of countries in which spouses of at least 100 Finnish women were born is 44. The corresponding number for Finnish men is 33.

Figure 4A. Foreign-born spouses of Finnish-born men by country of birth in 2010

Figure 4A. Foreign-born spouses of Finnish-born men by country of birth in 2010

Figure 4B. Foreign-born spouses of Finnish-born women by country of birth in 2010

Figure 4B. Foreign-born spouses of Finnish-born women by country of birth in 2010

Source: Population and Cause of Death Statistics, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Marjut Pietiläinen (09) 1734 2798, Timo Nikander (09) 1734 3250, vaesto.tilasto@stat.fi

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma


Updated 30.11.2011

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Families [e-publication].
ISSN=1798-3231. Annual Review 2010, 2. Three per cent of families are all-foreign language speaking . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 17.11.2019].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/perh/2010/02/perh_2010_02_2011-11-30_kat_002_en.html