1. Altogether 75 per cent of the Finnish population belongs to a family

Families are classified according to whether the spouses are married, cohabiting or in a registered partnership and whether they have children. In addition to this, there are one-parent families as a separate category. In this classification, no limit is set as to the age of a child. Families with children, defined as families having at least one child under the age of 18 living at home, are discussed in Section 3. Where families with underage children are concerned, parents are also referred to as supporters. In the following examination, one-parent families are not only single-supporter families, as a person having the status of a child living with his/her mother or father may be of any age.

At the end of 2013, there were 1,471,000 families in Finland. The number grew by nearly 5,400 from the year before. The increase was around 200 larger than one year earlier.

Altogether 75 per cent of the Finnish population belong to a family. The proportion decreased by 0.2 percentage points from the previous year. The rate of its decrease has remained at this level since the beginning of the 1990s. The proportion of the family population was at its highest in the 1960s and 1970s, when 87 per cent of the population belonged to a family. The number of persons belonging to a family rose by 6,800 during 2013. Total population increased by 24,600 persons. At the end of 2013, the average size of a family in Finland was 2.8 persons.

Table 1. Family population and average size of family in 1950–2013

Year   Families total  Family population Population      Proportion of family population, % Average size of family
1950 930 572 3 457 474 4 029 803 85,8 3,7
1960 1 036 270 3 855 037 4 446 222 86,7 3,7
1970 1 153 878 3 986 005 4 598 336 86,7 3,5
1980 1 278 102 4 023 091 4 787 778 84,0 3,1
1990 1 365 341 4 101 922 4 998 478 82,1 3,0
2000 1 401 963 4 053 850 5 181 115 78,2 2,9
2010 1 455 073 4 065 168 5 375 276 75,6 2,8
2012 1 465 733 4 075 094 5 426 674 75,1 2,8
2013 1 471 085 4 081 903 5 451 270 74,9 2,8

The commonest family type in Finland is still a married couple without children, making up 36 per cent of all families in 2013. As recently as in 2004, the most common family type in Finland was a married couple with children of some age living at home. In 2013, 30 per cent of all families were families of a married couple with children. However, the number of such families has been on the decline for a long time, whereas the number of married couples without children has been rising. The number of married couples living with their children decreased by 4,600 from the previous year, whereas from 2005 to 2006 the figure went down by 6,700. Because the yearly changes are small, it is difficult to pinpoint clearly the reasons for the decreases and increases in the numbers of the different family types.

The number and proportion of cohabiting couples among families is also growing. However, cohabiting couples without children make up only 14 per cent of all families. Today, eight per cent of all families are cohabiting couples with children. The number has been growing slowly in recent years.

The number of “mother and children” families has declined in recent years. These families represented ten per cent of all families. “Father and children” families are still rare; they number only two in one hundred. Their relative proportion has not changed much over the past few years.

Table 2. Families by type in 1950–2013

Year     Total       Married couple without children Married couple with children Cohabiting couple with children Cohabiting couple without children Mother and children Father and children Registered male couple 1) Registered female couple 1)
1950 930 572 176 650 593 763 .. .. 137 803 22 356 .. ..
1960 1 036 270 207 897 678 822 .. .. 129 706 19 845 .. ..
1970 2) 1 153 878 260 562 722 001 6 800 19 100 126 394 19 021 .. ..
1980 3) 1 278 102 302 818 711 226 36 200 65 900 140 725 21 233 .. ..
1990 1 365 341 364 452 640 062 65 896 123 471 147 297 24 161 .. ..
2000 1 401 963 436 019 514 868 102 581 160 132 159 432 28 931 .. ..
2010 1 455 073 513 889 446 433 117 254 195 967 149 651 30 278 706 895
2011 1 460 570 518 550 442 257 118 054 200 171 149 196 30 534 773 1 035
2012 1 465 733 523 221 439 194 118 136 203 334 149 143 30 714 829 1 162
2013 1 471 085 525 933 434 571 120 040 208 264 149 110 30 955 905 1 307
%
1950 100,0 19,0 63,8 .. .. 14,8 2,4 .. ..
1960 100,0 20,1 65,5 .. .. 12,5 1,9 .. ..
1970 2) 100,0 22,6 62,6 0,6 1,7 11,0 1,6 .. ..
1980 3) 100,0 23,7 55,6 2,8 5,2 11,0 1,7 .. ..
1990 100,0 26,7 46,9 4,8 9,0 10,8 1,8 .. ..
2000 100,0 31,1 36,7 7,3 11,4 11,4 2,1 .. ..
2010 100,0 35,3 30,7 8,1 13,5 10,3 2,1 0,0 0,1
2011 100,0 35,5 30,3 8,1 13,7 10,2 2,1 0,1 0,1
2012 100,0 35,7 30,0 8,1 13,9 10,2 2,1 0,1 0,1
2013 100,0 35,8 29,5 8,2 14,2 10,1 2,1 0,1 0,1
1) Families of the type "registered couple with children" numbered 467.
2) The breakdown of the census by type of family has been revised on the basis of interview surveys. (Aromaa, Cantell & Jaakkola: Avoliitto (Consensual Union), Research Institute of Legal Policy 49, Helsinki 1981).
3) The breakdown of the census by type of family has been revised on the basis of the 1981 register-based material on families and cohabiting couples.

1.1 Family types of aged women and men are different

Women's family types vary by age. The most typical family type for women aged under 29 with family is "cohabiting couple without children". Already for women aged 29, the commonest family type is “married couple with children”. This is natural as nowadays the first child is born at the average age of 28.6 and the first marriage is contracted at the average age of 30.6. “Married couple without children” only becomes the most typical family type for women once they have turned 53. The families of the oldest women (at least 91 years of age) tend to include a child rather than a husband. Only nine per cent of women of this age belong to the family population. In the light of family statistics, old age is different for men. Forty-one per cent of the men aged at least 89 belong to families. Then the family is typically a married couple without any children living with them.

Figure 1A. Families by type and age of wife/mother in 2013 (families with father and children by age of father)

Figure 1A. Families by type and age of wife/mother in 2013 (families with father and children by age of father)

Figure 1B. Families by type and age of wife/mother in 2013 (families with father and children by age of father), relative breakdown

Figure 1B. Families by type and age of wife/mother in 2013 (families with father and children by age of father), relative breakdown

1.2 Age difference of registered male couples is larger than that of female couples

At the end of 2013, 905 male couples and 1,307 female couples lived in a registered partnership, which was a total of 221 couples more than in 2012. In most of the tables in this publication these families are included in married couples. In some of the tables on the whole country these families form a group of their own. For reasons of privacy protection, this information can be given by municipality only if the couples number at least ten.

Figure 2 shows the age distribution of registered male and female couples according to the younger partner. In the other figures registered couples are included married couples. There are still so few of them that they would not be distinguishable as a separate group.

Figur 2. Registered partnerships by age of younger partner in 2013

Figur 2. Registered partnerships by age of younger partner in 2013

The age difference of registered couples is bigger than that of married couples. The average age difference of registered couples is 5.7 years, while that between married couples is 3.5 years, on average. The age difference of registered male couples is 7.2 years, on average, which is clearly higher than the average figure for female couples, 4.8 years. In contrast, the proportion of partners of same age is lower for registered couples (7.9 %) than for married ones (12.4 %). The age difference is at least 20 years for 3.8 per cent of registered couples, while only 0.5 per cent of married couples have an age difference of 20 years or more. For registered male couples, the age difference was at least 20 years (7.8 %) clearly more often than for female couples (0.9 %).

1.3 Women aged under 39 without children are more often cohabiting than married

Cohabitation is the form of family life chosen by young couples without children. Up to the age of 38, women without children tend to prefer cohabitation to marriage. Where mothers are concerned, the only ones to favour cohabitation over marriage are in the small group of mothers aged under 25. The majority of mothers older than this living with their spouses are married. The older the woman, the more likely she is to be married to her spouse.

Married couples account for 65 per cent of all families and for 74 per cent of all married and cohabiting couples. Cohabiting couples make up 22 per cent of all families. Of the families consisting of spouses living together, one-quarter are cohabiting couples.

In 82 per cent of all married couples both spouses are married for the first time In 66 per cent of the cohabiting couples neither spouse has been previously married. Hence, on average, there are clearly more couples where one of the spouses has been married before among cohabiting couples than among married couples. In 86 per cent of the registered male couples neither partner has been married before, the figure for female couples is 74 per cent.

1.4 Marital status of cohabiting persons is most often unmarried

Seventy-four per cent of the women and 75 per cent of the men living with a cohabiting partner without children are unmarried, so there is hardly any difference between genders here. More cohabiting women than cohabiting men are widows. There was not much a difference in the marital status of women and men living with children and cohabiting partners.

Table 3. Marital status of the man/woman/father/mother in a cohabiting partnership and in a one-parent family in 2013

Marital status Type of family
Cohabiting man no children Cohabiting woman no children Cohabiting man with children Cohabiting woman with children Father and children Father and children aged under 18 Mother and children Mother and children aged under 18
Unmarried 74,9 73,9 78,7 78,5 19,6 27,7 32,6 41,3
Married 0,7 0,6 0,4 0,4 13,2 15,1 10,3 12,5
Divorced 22,5 21,5 20,3 20,0 51,3 52,3 42,7 43,6
Widowed 1,8 4,0 0,5 1,1 16,0 5,0 14,5 2,7
Total 100,0 100,0 100,0 100,0 100,0 100,0 100,0 100,0
N 208 225 208 192 120 036 120 017 30 943 16 159 148 938 102 006

Mothers and fathers in one-parent families differ in their marital status. More than one-half of the fathers but fewer of the mothers are divorced. Altogether, 32 per cent of mothers but only 19 per cent of fathers are unmarried. However, it should be noted here that no limit is set on the age of a child, i.e. we are not referring to single supporters. The child of a one-parent family can be of any age, meaning that families formed by old widowed mothers and their grown-up children, for example, are included.

Table 3 also contains columns for one-parent families, that is, fathers and mothers whose children are underage. Their marital status structure differs most clearly from the group of all one-parent families. They include fewer widowed persons and more persons representing other marital status groups. It is noteworthy that relatively more single fathers than single mothers are widowed, although fewer fathers than mothers become widowed. In divorces, children usually stay with their mother, but there is no choice in the case of death.


Source: Population and Cause of Death Statistics, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Marjut Pietiläinen 029 551 2798, Timo Nikander 029 551 3250, vaesto.tilasto@stat.fi

Director in charge: Riitta Harala


Updated 21.11.2014

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Families [e-publication].
ISSN=1798-3231. Annual Review 2013, 1. Altogether 75 per cent of the Finnish population belongs to a family . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 15.11.2019].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/perh/2013/02/perh_2013_02_2014-11-21_kat_001_en.html