Published: 25 May 2018

Number of families turned to a decline

According to Statistics Finland's data, there were 1,472,000 families in Finland at the end of 2017. The number of families fell the first time during the family statistics. The number fell by 4,100 from the previous year. Until now, the number of families has grown, although slowly in recent years. The contraction is almost at the same level as the annual growth in the number still a couple of years ago.

Families by type in 1992–2017

Families by type in 1992–2017
1) Including registered partnerships from 2002 on and same-sex married couples from 2017 on.

Number of families with a married couple and children decreases further

Sixty-four per cent of all families were families of married couples. The number of families formed by opposite-sex married couples and children has fallen by 5,900 from the previous year. There has also been a decrease in cohabiting families 1) without any children or with only non-common children. The number of cohabiting families without children has fallen by nearly 800 and that of those with only non-common children by close on 200. The numbers of other family types have grown. The number of families of a mother and children grew most, by around one thousand. The number of families formed by opposite-sex married couples without children grew by 700. The number of families of a father and children went up by nearly 700 and that of cohabiting couples with common children by around one hundred.

At the beginning of March 2017, an amendment to the Marriage Act entered into force, as a result of which part of registered partners have changed their partnership into marriage and new registered partners can no longer be formed. The number of families of registered couples was 1,500, or 1,200 lower than one year previously. There were 1,600 families of same-sex married couples. Of them, 67 per cent were families of female couples. Twenty-three per cent were still families of cohabiting couples and 13 per cent one-parent families, which is one percentage point more than in the previous year. People living alone numbered 1,162,000, which is almost 31,000 more than in the year before.

The average size of a family was 2.8. As late as in 1990, the average size of a family was three persons. Seventy-four per cent of the population, or 4,055,000 persons, belonged to a family, which is 17,300 fewer than in the year before. The share of persons who belong to a family has been falling steadily. As late as in 1990, their share of the population was 82 per cent.

Number of families with children continues falling

The total number of families with children was 566,000. The number has declined by 3,400 from the year before. The decrease is bigger than average for the last ten years or so, when the annual decrease has been around 2,000. A family with underage 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 group of children coming of age is larger than the new age groups being born.

A total of 39 per cent of the population belonged to a family with children. The commonest family type of families with children is still a family formed of a married couple of opposite sexes, making up 58 per cent of families with children. One-fifth of families with children are families of cohabiting couples. There were almost equally many families of a mother and children, whose share was 19 per cent. The number of families with a father and children was still very low, three per cent. A same-sex married couple was a parent in 388 families with children and a registered couple in 345 families with children. Many factors have an effect on the number of families with children, such as the sizes of age groups being born and those turning 18, as well as international migration.

There were a total of 1,046,000 underage children in families with children, 4,900 down from the previous year. The average number of children was 1.85 in families with children. The figure has remained stable, although the number of children has declined. Of families with children, 43 per cent had one child, 39 per cent two children and 13 per cent three children. Five per cent of families with children had at least four children aged under 18.

As a result of the falling number of children born in the past few years, the number of families with children aged under three has also fallen from the previous year. The number of such families was 143,000, having been 149,000 in the year before.

The family statistics describe the size of families in Finland at a given moment and thus do not concern with the eventual number of children in families.

Relative share of reconstituted families in families with children unchanged

At the end of 2017, there were 51,300 reconstituted families 2) . The number of reconstituted families went down by 300 from the previous year. The share of reconstituted families in families with underage children has remained at nine per cent since 2004. Roughly one-half of the parents of reconstituted families were cohabiting and one-half were married.

On average, reconstituted families have slightly more children than families with children in general. The average number of children was 2.1. Fifty-nine per cent of the children were brought into the family by their mother. The share has remained at the same level for a quarter century. A reconstituted family is a family with at least one child aged under 18 of only one of the parents.

Families by type in 1990–2017

Type of
family 
1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015 2016 2017 Change 
2016–2017
Families 
total
1 365 341 1 382 970 1 401 963 1 426 002 1 455 073 1 475 335 1 475 583 1 471 500 -4 083
Married oppsosite-sex
couple
without 
children
364 452 395 953 436 019 481 209 513 889 528 539 529 697 530 404 707
Married opposite-sex
couple
with
children
640 062 579 578 514 868 468 266 446 433 424 185 418 032 412 102 -5 930
Married same-sex  
couple, men
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. 524 ..
Married  same-sex
couple, women
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. 1 042 ..
Cohabiting opposite-sex
couple
no children
123 471 135 996 160 132 180 590 195 967 215 620 218 439 217 644 -795
Cohabiting opposite-sex
couple with 
children
65 896 85 309 102 581 112 847 117 254 122 657 123 321 123 234 -87
Mother and
children
147 297 159 063 159 432 153 024 149 651 150 274 151 459 152 460 1 001
Father and
children
24 161 27 071 28 931 29 238 30 278 31 452 31 951 32 616 665
Registered
male 
couple 1)
.. .. .. 398 706 1 023 1 052 640 -412
Registered
female 
couple 1)
.. .. .. 430 895 1 585 1 632 834 -798
Family 
population
4 101 922 4 093 038 4 053 850 4 037 753 4 065 168 4 080 544 4 072 565 4 055 224 -17 341
Population
31.12.
4 998 478 5 116 829 5 181 115 5 255 580 5 375 276 5 487 308 5 503 297 5 513 130 9 833
Proportion 
of family
population
82,1 80,0 78,2 76,8 75,6 74,4 74,0 73,6 -0,4
Average
size of
family
3,00 2,96 2,89 2,83 2,79 2,77 2,76 2,76 0,0
1) Families of the type ” married same-sex couple with children” numbered 395 and registered couple with children” 362 in 2017.

1) Cohabiting couples of the same sex are not formed in the family statistics, but only cohabiting couples of opposite sexes are taken into consideration here.
2) Only families of opposite-sex couples are taken into account in reconstituted families.

Source: Families 2017, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Marjut Pietiläinen 029 551 2798, info@stat.fi

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma

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Updated 25.5.2018

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Families [e-publication].
ISSN=1798-3231. 2017. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 22.8.2018].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/perh/2017/perh_2017_2018-05-25_tie_001_en.html