Published: 22 May 2019

Number of families continued to decline

According to Statistics Finland's data, there were 1,469,000 families in Finland at the end of 2018. In 2018, the number of families continued on the downward path that started last year and declined by 2,800 families. The contraction is almost at the same level as the annual growth in the number a couple of years ago.

Families by type in 1992–2018

Families by type in 1992–2018
1) Including registered partnerships from 2002 on and same-sex married couples from 2017 on.

In family statistics, families are formed based on the data of the Population Information System of persons living in the same dwelling. There are some limitations to forming a statistical family based on register data alone. One such limitation is that a family of a cohabiting couple is only formed for persons of opposite sexes. Another limitation is related to new family types, like ones where the couple does not live together but who otherwise live like a couple. The formation of statistical families is described in more detail in the quality description.

Number of childless couples grew

Sixty-four per cent of families were families of married couples. The number of families formed by opposite-sex married couples and children fell by 7,960 families from the previous year. The number of families formed by cohabiting couples and children, in turn, decreased by some 600 families. Same-sex cohabiting couples are not formed in family statistics, but only cohabiting couples of opposite sexes are taken into consideration here. By contrast, the number of families formed by childless cohabiting couples increased by 2,530 and that of opposite-sex married couples by 1,900 families. The number of one-parent families increased slightly, that of families formed by a mother and children by 428 and that of a father and children by 676.

The number of same-sex cohabiting couples increased by 321, while the number of registered couples decreased by 192. The development is a natural continuum of the amendment to the Marriage Act that entered into force at the beginning of March 2017, 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 1,282, or 192 lower than one year previously. There were 1,980 families of same-sex married couples (0.1%). Of them, 66 per cent were families of female couples. Twenty-three per cent of families were still families of cohabiting couples and 13 per cent one-parent families, which is the same as in the previous year. In 2018, there were 1,191,297 persons living alone, or 28,989 more than in 2017.

The average size of a family was 2.75. As late as in 1990, the average size of a family was three persons. Seventy-three per cent of the population, or 4,034,000 persons, belonged to a family, which is 21,503 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 still 82 per cent.

In all, 4,300 fewer families with children

The total number of families with children was 562,000. The number declined by 4,300 from the year before. The decrease is bigger than last year and clearly bigger than on average in a good decade, when the annual decrease has been around 2,000. A family with 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 groups of children coming of age is larger than the new age groups being born.

A total of 38 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 were 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 500 families with children and a registered couple in 285 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 was a total of 1,038,000 underage children in families with children, 4,300 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. The shares have remained unchanged.

In family statistics, children are included in a family based on where they are registered. So, in case of divorce, the child is only included in the family of one parent even if the parents would in practice have joint custody. Children’s shared residence was studied in the ad hoc module of Statistic Finland's 2018 Labour Force Survey. Data on shared residence will be published on 17 June 2019.

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.

Number of reconstituted families decreasing, proportion unchanged

At the end of 2018, there were 50,700 reconstituted families. The number of reconstituted families went down by 598 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. Only families of opposite-sex couples are taken into account in reconstituted families.

On average, reconstituted families have two children or slightly more than families with children in general. 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 1990–2018

Type of
family 
1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015 2016 2017 2018 Change 
2017–2018
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 1 468 681 -2 819
Married oppsosite-sex
couple
without 
children
364 452 395 953 436 019 481 209 513 889 528 539 529 697 530 404 532 304 1 900
Married opposite-sex
couple
with
children
640 062 579 578 514 868 468 266 446 433 424 185 418 032 412 102 404 142 -7 960
Married same-sex  
couple, men 1)
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. 524 675 151
Married  same-sex
couple, women
1)
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. 1 042 1 305 263
Cohabiting opposite-sex
couple
no children
123 471 135 996 160 132 180 590 195 967 215 620 218 439 217 644 220 179 2 535
Cohabiting opposite-sex
couple with 
children
65 896 85 309 102 581 112 847 117 254 122 657 123 321 123 234 122 614 -620
Mother and
children
147 297 159 063 159 432 153 024 149 651 150 274 151 459 152 460 152 888 428
Father and
children
24 161 27 071 28 931 29 238 30 278 31 452 31 951 32 616 33 292 676
Registered
male 
couple 1)
.. .. .. 398 706 1 023 1 052 640 586 -54
Registered
female 
couple 1)
.. .. .. 430 895 1 585 1 632 834 696 -138
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 4 033 721 -21 503
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 5 517 919 4 789
Proportion 
of family
population
82,1 80,0 78,2 76,8 75,6 74,4 74,0 73,6 73,1 -0,5
Average
size of
family
3,00 2,96 2,89 2,83 2,79 2,77 2,76 2,76 2,75 –0,01
1) Families of the type ” married same-sex couple with children” numbered 521 and registered couple with children” 301 in 2018.

Source: Families 2018, Statistics Finland

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

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma

Publication in pdf-format (418.1 kB)

Tables

Tables in databases

Appendix tables

Figures
Quality descriptions

Updated 22.5.2019

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Families [e-publication].
ISSN=1798-3231. 2018. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 18.6.2019].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/perh/2018/perh_2018_2019-05-22_tie_001_en.html