5. Majority of children live in families with two parents

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, 62 per cent of the families with underage children are those of married couples, but 66 per cent of all children live in families of married couples. This is because there are more children in these families, on the average, than there are in families of cohabiting couples and one-parent families. When the children of cohabiting couples and registered couples are included, 83 per cent of underage children live in families with two parents. The proportion has fallen by seven percentage points from 1985.

Table 8. Children aged 0 to 17 by type of family in 1985–2009

Year     Total            Married couple Registered partnership 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
2006 1 080 728 721 911 183 175 516 161 834 21 284
2007 1 076 522 716 804 216 176 801 161 184 21 517
2008 1 071 800 713 202 277 175 986 160 730 21 605
2009 1 068 554 708 684 331 175 951 161 755 21 833
Per cent
1985 100,0 84,5 .. 5,4 9,0 1,1
1990 100,0 80,7 .. 7,9 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
2006 100,0 66,8 0,0 16,2 15,0 2,0
2007 100,0 66,6 0,0 16,4 15,0 2,0
2008 100,0 66,5 0,0 16,4 15,0 2,0
2009 100,0 66,3 0,0 16,5 15,1 2,0

Of all babies aged under one, 92 per cent live with both parents and eight per cent with the mother only (Figure 9). The proportion of children living with their father or mother rises with age. As many as 20 per cent of children aged 17 live with their mother only and four per cent with their father only.

Figure 9. Children by type of family and age in 2009, relative breakdown

Figure 9. Children by type of family and age in 2009, relative breakdown

5.1 One-third of children have at least two siblings at home

Although 44 per cent of families with children had only one child at the end of 2009, only 24 per cent of the children of families had no siblings. The status of an only child is temporary for many of these children, as some of them will have a sibling later on. Some of these children may also have an older sibling who has already turned 18 or moved away from home.

At the end of 2009, altogether 42 per cent of all children lived with one sibling and as many as 34 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 1985–2009

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
2006 1 080 728 254 705 451 428 242 382 132 213
2007 1 076 522 254 832 450 088 238 782 132 820
2008 1 071 800 253 841 449 016 235 650 133 293
2009 1 068 554 254 457 447 554 232 584 133 959
Per cent
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
2006 100,0 23,6 41,8 22,4 12,2
2007 100,0 23,7 41,8 22,2 12,3
2008 100,0 23,7 41,9 22,0 12,4
2009 100,0 23,8 41,9 21,8 12,5

The cross-sectional nature of family statistics is clearly illustrated in Figure 10, which shows children of families by age and by the 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 the 0-year-olds, 42 per cent are without siblings, i.e. they are first-borns in their families. The proportion of children without siblings in the age group is the lowest, or 13 per cent, among children aged six to nine.

A second child has apparently born into a family at the latest by the time the first-born is roughly seven years of age. 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 7-year-old children 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 if the number of children is calculated with a table containing all Finnish women according to the number of children born to them.

Figure 10 indicates that a child’s family is at its largest when he/she is aged eight to nine. In all, 44 per cent of children of this age live in families with at least three underage children.

Figure 10. Children by age and number of children aged under 18 in the family in 2009

Figure 10. Children by age and number of children aged under 18 in the family in 2009

5.2 One child in ten live in reconstituted families

In all, 110,700 children (10% of all children) aged under 18 are raised in reconstituted families. Of them, 33,000 are common children of both spouses, that is, the child has been born to a family that previously had only the mother’s and/or the father’s children.

Altogether 43 per cent of reconstituted families have had common children born to the family as well. There are 78,000 actual children of reconstituted families (7% of all children), that is, children who have obtained a new social parent. Of these children, 67,200 were brought into the family by their mother and 10,500 by their father.


Source: Population and Cause of Death Statistics, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Marjut Pietiläinen (09) 1734 2798, Timo Nikander (09) 1734 3250, vaesto.tilasto@stat.fi

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma


Updated 30.11.2010

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Families [e-publication].
ISSN=1798-3231. Annual Review 2009, 5. Majority of children live in families with two parents . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 23.10.2019].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/perh/2009/02/perh_2009_02_2010-11-30_kat_005_en.html