5. Sixty-three per cent of children live in a family of married couples

Families with children can also be examined by taking the child as the statistical unit instead of the family. Then the results are slightly different. For example, 58 per cent of the families with underage children are those of married couples, but 63 per cent of all children live in families of married couples, because these families have a higher average number of children than families of cohabiting couples or one-parent families. When the children of cohabiting couples and those of registered couples are included in the calculation, 81 per cent of underage children live in families with two parents.

Table 8. Children aged 17 or under by type of family in 1985 to 2017

Year Total Married
couple
Regis-
tered
partner-
ship
Cohabiting
couple
Mother Father
1985 1 136 027 959 580 .. 61 386 102 413 12 648
1990 1 135 686 916 855 .. 91 164 113 184 14 483
1995 1 150 562 858 255 .. 125 222 148 706 18 379
2000 1 116 687 777 447 .. 156 411 162 544 20 285
2005 1 084 865 727 638 131 172 898 162 875 21 323
2010 1 064 470 704 953 397 175 563 161 427 22 130
2011 1 061 710 701 396 500 175 981 161 575 22 258
2012 1 058 664 697 517 597 176 104 162 035 22 411
2013 1 056 606 691 581 672 178 899 162 836 22 618
2014 1 055 763 685 150 797 181 515 165 203 23 098
2015 1 053 444 677 854 938 183 463 167 618 23 571
2016 1 051 285 669 773 1 014 184 914 171 323 24 261
2017 1 046 336 661 557 611 185 140 174 060 24 968
%
1985 100,0 84,5 .. 5,4 9,0 1,1
1990 100,0 80,7 .. 8,0 10,0 1,3
1995 100,0 74,6 .. 10,9 12,9 1,6
2000 100,0 69,6 .. 14,0 14,6 1,8
2005 100,0 67,1 0,0 15,9 15,0 2,0
2010 100,0 66,2 0,0 16,5 15,2 2,1
2011 100,0 66,1 0,1 16,6 15,2 2,1
2012 100,0 65,9 0,1 16,6 15,3 2,1
2013 100,0 65,5 0,1 16,9 15,4 2,1
2014 100,0 64,9 0,1 17,2 15,6 2,2
2015 100,0 64,3 0,1 17,4 15,9 2,2
2016 100,0 63,7 0,1 17,6 16,3 2,3
2017 100,0 63,2 0,1 17,7 16,6 2,4

5.1 Twenty-three per cent of children have no siblings

Although 43 per cent of families with children had only one child at the end of 2017, only 23 per cent of the children in these families had no siblings. The status of an only child is temporary for many of these children, as the majority of them will have a sibling later on. Some of these children may also have had an older sibling who has already turned 18 or moved away from home.

At the end of 2017, altogether 42 per cent of all children lived with one sibling and 35 per cent of all children had at least two siblings living at home. In 1985, only 27 per cent of all children had at least two siblings at home.

Table 9. Children by number of underage children in the family in 1985 to 2017

Year Total Number of underage children in families
1 2 3 4 -
1985 1 136 027 306 784 518 206 221 211 89 826
1990 1 135 751 286 529 500 680 243 504 105 038
1995 1 150 562 284 915 484 092 257 283 124 272
2000 1 116 687 268 369 461 516 255 075 131 727
2005 1 084 865 255 549 451 758 245 325 132 233
2010 1 064 470 254 551 445 192 230 580 134 147
2011 1 061 710 253 995 443 286 229 101 135 328
2012 1 058 664 252 986 441 612 227 907 136 159
2013 1 056 606 250 318 441 312 227 175 137 801
2014 1 055 763 247 882 440 974 228 099 138 808
2015 1 053 444 245 871 441 220 227 532 138 821
2016 1 051 285 244 159 441 602 226 467 139 057
2017 1 046 336 241 709 440 232 225 978 138 417
%
1985 100,0 27,0 45,6 19,5 7,9
1990 100,0 25,2 44,1 21,4 9,2
1995 100,0 24,8 42,1 22,4 10,8
2000 100,0 24,0 41,3 22,8 11,8
2005 100,0 23,6 41,6 22,6 12,2
2010 100,0 23,9 41,8 21,7 12,6
2011 100,0 23,9 41,8 21,6 12,7
2012 100,0 23,9 41,7 21,5 12,9
2013 100,0 23,7 41,8 21,5 13,0
2014 100,0 23,5 41,8 21,6 13,1
2015 100,0 23,3 41,9 21,6 13,1
2016 100,0 23,2 42,0 21,5 13,2
2017 100,0 23,1 42,1 21,6 13,2

The cross-sectional nature of family statistics is clearly illustrated in Figure 9, which shows the children of families by age and number of children in the family. Here all children living at home and aged under 18 are taken into account when determining the status of an only child. Of children aged under one year, 41 per cent are without siblings, i.e. they are firstborns in their families. The proportion of children without siblings, 13 per cent, is the lowest for children aged 7 to 8.

A second child has most likely been born to a family when the firstborn is aged around nine. On the other hand, the older sibling has only on rare occasions reached the age of 18. Since it can be assumed that some of the children aged 7 to 8 will still have a sibling and some of them already have one who has left home, it can be concluded that some ten per cent of children will remain permanently without siblings. The same results are attained when looking at the number of children according to the number of children born to women in the whole country.

Figure 9 indicates that a child’s family is at its largest when he/she is nine years old. Around 43 per cent of children of that age live in families with at least three underage children.

Figure 9. Children by age and number of children aged 17 or under in the family in 2017

Figure 9. Children by age and number of children aged 17 or under in the family in 2017

5.2 Number of siblings varies much between areas

There are also differences in the numbers of siblings by area. In areas where families are bigger, the proportion of children living with several siblings is naturally larger than in areas of small families. In North Ostrobothnia, 29 per cent of children have three or more siblings aged under 18 living at home. In contrast, nearly every tenth child in South Karelia, Uusimaa and Varsinais-Suomi is living with at least three siblings. In Åland, only seven per cent of children live with this many siblings.

North, Central and South Ostrobothnia also have the lowest proportions of children living without siblings − under 20 per cent. More than every fourth child in Åland, South Karelia and Uusimaa has no siblings living at home.

Figure 10. Children by number of siblings by region in 2017, %

Figure 10. Children by number of siblings by region in 2017, %

5.3 Seven per cent of children have obtained a new social parent

In all, 107,769 children (10 per cent of all children) aged under 18 are raised in reconstituted families. The number of children raised in reconstituted families declined slightly from the previous year and the relative share remained nearly unchanged. Of them, 32,855 are the spouses' common children, that is, born to a family that previously had the mother’s and/or the father’s children only. Altogether, 44 per cent of reconstituted families have had common children born to the family as well. There are 74,914 actual children of reconstituted families (7% of all children), that is, children who have obtained a new social parent. Of these children, 63,798 were brought into the family by their mother and 11,116 by their father.

5.4 No change in the proportion of children with foreign background in the second generation

During 2012, Statistics Finland adopted a new origin classification. Persons whose at least one parent who was born in Finland are considered to be of Finnish background. Also, persons whose parents' data are unknown but whose native language is Finnish, Swedish or Sami are considered to be of Finnish background. Persons whose both parents or the only known parent were born abroad are considered to be of foreign background. Persons who were born abroad and whose both parents' data are unknown are also considered to be of foreign background. Using the origin classification, it is easy to distinguish between first (born abroad) and second (born in Finland) generation Finns with a foreign background. The following looks at all children belonging to the population of Finland.

Based on what is stated above, 86,000 or eight per cent of all underage children were of foreign background at the end of 2017. During the year, the number of underage children with foreign background has grown by over five thousand. In 1990, there were 3,500 underage children with foreign background in Finland.

Until 2003, there were more children with foreign background in the first generation than in the second generation, but in the following year there were slightly more children with foreign background in the second generation, 51 per cent. At the end of 2017, the share of children with foreign background in the second generation among all children with foreign background was 61 per cent. In recent years, the ratio has remained unchanged.


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, 5. Sixty-three per cent of children live in a family of married couples . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 23.11.2019].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/perh/2017/02/perh_2017_02_2018-12-05_kat_005_en.html