2. Five per cent of families entirely foreign-language speaking

In 85 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 and Swedish-speakers with other languages can be found in around four per cent of all families. Families where both of the spouses or the only parent are foreign-language speakers number 67,201, which equals five 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 3,588 higher than that of Finnish and Swedish-speaking couples.

Altogether, 31,687 Finnish or Swedish-speaking men are married to or cohabiting with a foreign-language speaking woman. The corresponding figure for women is 25,377. Unions with foreign-language speakers increased by 1,415 in 2017.

Table 4. Families speaking Finnish, Swedish or other language in 1990, 2000, 2010, 2016 to 2017

Man/woman
Finnish,
Swedish or
foreign-
language
speaking
Year
1990 2000 2010 2016 2017
Finnish speaking
man and
Finnish speaking
woman
1 088 742 1 089 232 1 114 828 1 100 370 1 090 887
Finnish speaking
man and
Swedish speaking
woman
16 544 17 394 18 337 18 455 18 358
Finnish speaking
woman and
Swedish speaking
man
22 734 23 445 24 552 24 544 24 445
Finnish speaking
man and
foreign-
language
speaking
woman
4 020 11 094 21 772 29 069 29 649
Finnish speaking
woman and
foreign-
language
speaking
man
5 951 10 236 17 441 22 957 23 657
Finnish speaking
mother/father
162 209 174 861 161 302 158 771 159 320
Swedish speaking
man and
Swedish speaking
woman
53 348 49 198 47 881 46 722 46 391
Swedish speaking
man and
foreign-
language
speaking
woman
300 655 1 434 1 969 2 016
Swedish speaking
woman and
foreign-
language
speaking
man
410 678 1 261 1 654 1 720
Swedish speaking
mother/father
8 489 8 609 7 953 7 860 7 834
Foreign-
language
speaking
man and
foreign-
language
speaking
woman
1 832 11 668 27 638 46 433 49 279
Foreign-
language
speaking
mother/father
792 4 893 10 674 16 779 17 922

2.1 Fifteen per cent of Russian-speaking families are one-parent families

The largest foreign-language group in Finland is made up of Russian speakers. At the end of 2017, there were 15,751 such Russian-speaking families in Finland where the native language of the only parent or both parents was Russian. The number of families where either one of the spouses is Russian-speaking is slightly lower at 13,524. The number of Russian-speaking families is 533 higher than in the year before.

The number of Russian-speaking one-parent families is 4,440, which is 15 per cent of all Russian-speaking families. Among Russian-speakers, one-parent families are clearly more common than one-parent families are of all families (12.6%). Of Russian-speaking one-parent families, 94 per cent are formed by mothers and children, while this is so for 82 per cent of all families with one parent.

The most common language combination among the Russian-speaking families is one where the husband and the wife speak Russian. During 2017, the number of such couples has grown by 147. In 1990, there were only 300 Russian-speaking couples in Finland, today their number has gone up to 11,311.

The second most common language combination in Russian-speaking families is a Finnish-speaking husband and a Russian-speaking wife (8,634). It is still rare for a Finnish-speaking woman to have a Russian-speaking spouse. At the end of 2017, their number was 1,751.

2.2 Families of two foreign citizens are most common families of foreigners

In only six per cent (90,838 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 and as many as 36,000 in 2000. In the past year, the number of such families has increased by 1,949. In absolute numbers, most grew the number of families where a Finnish woman had a foreign man.

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 largest at the beginning of the 2000s. In 2013, the most common combination in families of foreign citizens was still one where the husband is a Finnish citizen and the wife a foreign citizen. In 2014, families of two foreign spouses became the most common family type for foreign citizens. Now the number of families formed by two foreign spouses is 27,235 (Figure 3). No distinction is made between married and cohabiting couples here.

In families where at least one of the spouses or the only parent is a foreign citizen, the largest group of foreign citizens is families with Estonian citizens, 15,046. In turn, families of Russian citizens numbered 11,650.

Entirely foreign families, i.e. families where the only parent or both spouses are foreign citizens, total 37,849. There were 4,872 families where both spouses or the only parent are Russian citizens at the end of 2017. There were 9,164 entirely Estonian families of which 31 per cent were families consisting of mother and children only. The number of Estonian families declined by 109 from the year before. Families of two Chinese citizens or with one Chinese parent numbered 1,385. The number of these families grew by 67 families from the previous year. Thirteen per cent of the families of Chinese citizens are families of mother and children only.

Figure 3. Families of foreign citizens in 1990, 2007 and 2017

Figure 3. Families of foreign citizens in 1990, 2007 and 2017

2.3 Men have more often a spouse born abroad than women

An examination of countries of birth gives the best picture of foreign-born spouses of Finns. However, it should be borne in mind that some children of two Finnish citizens are also born abroad. For example, the child can be adopted or the parents were living permanently abroad when the child was born. Finnish-born men have 41,126 foreign-born spouses. The number has grown by 559 from the year before. Finnish-born women have 35,500 foreign-born spouses; the number having grown by 804. Today, Finnish men more often have spouses born abroad than Finnish women.

The foreign-born spouses of Finnish men and women come from a variety of countries. Men's spouses were born mainly in the neighbouring countries and East Asia. 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 moved to Finland before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Finnish men have 12,481 spouses who were born in the former Soviet Union, Russia or Estonia, and 8,455 spouses who were born in Sweden. The number of spouses born in Thailand is 4,927. The next most common countries of birth for the spouses are China, the Philippines, Germany, the United States and Vietnam.

Women's spouses born abroad come from a higher number of countries than men's spouses. The number of spouses born in Sweden is 8,778. Husbands born in the former Soviet Union, Russia and Estonia number 3,007, which is 160 fewer 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.

Figure 4A. Foreign-born spouses of Finnish-born men by country of birth in 2017

Figure 4A. Foreign-born spouses of Finnish-born men by country of birth in 2017

Figure 4B. Foreign-born spouses of Finnish-born women by country of birth in 2017

Figure 4B. Foreign-born spouses of Finnish-born women by country of birth in 2017

Source: Population and Justice Statistics, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Marjut Pietiläinen 029 551 2798, Joonas Toivola 029 551 3355, Timo Nikander 029 551 3250, info@stat.fi

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma


Updated 5.12.2018

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Families [e-publication].
ISSN=1798-3231. Annual Review 2017, 2. Five per cent of families entirely foreign-language speaking . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 21.11.2019].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/perh/2017/02/perh_2017_02_2018-12-05_kat_002_en.html