# 3. Families with children make up 39 per cent of all families

At the end of 2013, there were 576,000 families with underage children in Finland. A family with underage children has at least one child under the age of 18 living at home. Families with children make up 39 per cent of all families. The percentage has been falling at a steady rate for the past few years. In all, 40 per cent of the population live in families with underage children, older siblings included.

The number of families with underage children fell by 2,700 from the previous year. The drop was 600 higher than in the year before. The number of families with children aged under 7 grew by only 180 from the year before, which is clearly less than one year earlier, when the growth was around 1,800.

Table 5. Families with underage children by type in 1950–2013

Year | Total | Married couple with children | Cohabiting couple with children | Mother and children | Father and children | Registered partnership with children | Persons in families with underage children | Families with children aged under 18 | Families with children of all families, % | Population belonging to families with children, % |

1950 | 599 329 | 515 115 | .. | 74 319 | 9 895 | .. | .. | 1 341 330 | 64 | .. |

1960 | 678 046 | 601 542 | .. | 67 381 | 9 123 | .. | .. | 1 536 464 | 65 | .. |

1970 ^{1)} |
677 035 | 602 076 | 5 800 | 61 173 | 7 986 | .. | .. | 1 345 089 | 59 | .. |

1980 ^{2)} |
688 732 | 572 142 | 32 100 | 74 839 | 9 651 | .. | .. | 1 163 926 | 54 | .. |

1990 | 640 637 | 490 999 | 59 900 | 78 948 | 10 790 | .. | 2 437 592 | 1 135 686 | 47 | 49 |

2000 | 612 627 | 398 892 | 95 120 | 103 984 | 14 631 | .. | 2 317 291 | 1 116 687 | 44 | 45 |

2005 | 591 528 | 368 553 | 104 782 | 103 044 | 15 063 | 86 | 2 232 613 | 1 084 865 | 42 | 43 |

2010 | 582 360 | 356 943 | 107 368 | 101 946 | 15 836 | 267 | 2 200 603 | 1 068 554 | 40 | 41 |

2011 | 580 547 | 354 567 | 107 738 | 101 963 | 15 940 | 339 | 2 185 130 | 1 061 710 | 40 | 40 |

2012 | 578 409 | 352 159 | 107 751 | 102 013 | 16 081 | 405 | 2 176 199 | 1 058 664 | 40 | 40 |

2013 | 575 683 | 347 817 | 109 104 | 102 152 | 16 163 | 447 | 2 166 385 | 1 056 606 | 39 | 40 |

% | ||||||||||

1950 | 100,0 | 85,9 | .. | 12,4 | 1,7 | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |

1960 | 100,0 | 88,7 | .. | 9,9 | 1,3 | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |

1970 | 100,0 | 88,9 | 0,9 | 9,0 | 1,2 | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |

1980 | 100,0 | 83,1 | 4,7 | 10,9 | 1,4 | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |

1990 | 100,0 | 76,6 | 9,4 | 12,3 | 1,7 | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |

2000 | 100,0 | 65,1 | 15,5 | 17,0 | 2,4 | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |

2005 | 100,0 | 62,3 | 17,7 | 17,4 | 2,5 | 0,0 | .. | .. | .. | .. |

2010 | 100,0 | 61,3 | 18,4 | 17,5 | 2,7 | 0,0 | .. | .. | .. | .. |

2011 | 100,0 | 61,1 | 18,6 | 17,6 | 2,7 | 0,1 | .. | .. | .. | .. |

2012 | 100,0 | 60,9 | 18,6 | 17,6 | 2,8 | 0,1 | .. | .. | .. | .. |

2013 | 100,0 | 60,4 | 19,0 | 17,7 | 2,8 | 0,1 | .. | .. | .. | .. |

2) The breakdown of the census by type of family has been revised on the basis of the 1981 register-based material on families and cohabiting couples.

## 3.1 Married couple with children is still the dominant but decreasing family type

By far the most common type of family with underage children is still that of a married couple. In 60 per cent of all families with underage children the supporters are a married couple. On the other hand, this is the only form of family with children which has seen a steady decline, both in absolute and relative terms. Nevertheless, it is evident that its dominance will not be threatened by any other family forms in the near future. The numbers of all other types of families with children grew over the year. At the end of 2013, there were 109,000 families of cohabiting couples with underage children in Finland, which equals to 19 per cent of all families with underage children. Compared with 2012, the number of families of cohabiting couples increased by nearly 1,400.

Nowadays 56 per cent of firstborn children are born outside the marriage. The share has slowly increased, by five percentage points since 1997, when one-half of first-born children were born outside the marriage. Forty-two per cent of all children born in 2013 were born outside the marriage.

The number of families consisting of a mother and children has remained almost unchanged compared with 2012, as the number increased by only 140 families. The number of families with children of the type mother and children was around 102,000. One-fifth of all families with children are still one-parent families (mother and children or father and children). Families with children whose regular composition is father and children are still quite rare. There are only 16,100 such families. Families composed of a registered couple and children under the age of 18 are even rarer, numbering 447. Although the number of such families does not grow much in absolute terms, their relative growth is quite big, ten per cent last year compared with the previous year.

Figure 5A. Families with underage children by type of family and age of mother/single carer father in 2013

Figure 5B. Families with underage children by type of family and age of mother/single carer father in 2013, relative breakdown

## 3.2 Number of reconstituted families at a standstill

A reconstituted family refers to a family that has a non-common child under the age of 18, i.e. the child has, in a sense, received a new social parent. The concept is more broadly interpreted in everyday talk: the weekend families born in consequence of diverse family splits are referred to as reconstituted families. However, statistics on families must be compiled according to the child’s permanent place of residence. A child cannot be included in two families in the statistics. Divorced fathers and mothers with whom children only stay during weekends and holidays are not included in family statistics unless they have formed a new family.

There are 53,000 reconstituted families representing nine per cent of all families with underage children. The number of reconstituted families has grown slowly since 1990 when the first statistics concerning them were made, but in 2013, their number decreased by 300 families. The fall in the number of reconstituted families is of the same size as in the year before: in 2012 the number of reconstituted families also went down by 300.

Altogether, 50 per cent of the parents of reconstituted families are married to one another and the other 50 per cent cohabit. Usually, the child of a reconstituted family is the mother’s and has obtained a new social father. If a common child is born to a reconstituted family, the parents usually marry, but otherwise they mostly cohabit. Families with “your children, my children and our children” living in the same household are still relatively rare, numbering only 848.

Table 6. Reconstituted families 1990–2013

Year | Total | Married couple | Cohabiting couple | Reconstituted families as a proportion of families with children, % | Mother's children | Father's children | Common children | Children under 18 in reconstituted families | Non-common children as a proportion of children of all families, % | Children in reconstituted families as aproportion of children of all families, % |

1990 | 44 426 | 21 808 | 22 618 | 6,9 | 50 713 | 7 443 | 30 089 | 88 245 | 5,1 | 7,8 |

1995 | 42 460 | 19 197 | 23 263 | 6,6 | 50 322 | 7 637 | 29 242 | 87 201 | 5,0 | 7,6 |

2000 | 47 288 | 21 315 | 25 973 | 7,7 | 58 550 | 8 541 | 30 931 | 98 022 | 6,0 | 8,8 |

2005 | 52 204 | 24 722 | 27 482 | 8,8 | 66 228 | 9 746 | 32 465 | 108 439 | 7,0 | 10,0 |

2006 | 52 920 | 25 275 | 27 645 | 9,0 | 67 175 | 10 054 | 32 817 | 110 071 | 7,1 | 10,2 |

2007 | 53 482 | 25 901 | 27 581 | 9,1 | 67 652 | 10 254 | 33 064 | 110 970 | 7,2 | 10,3 |

2008 | 53 674 | 26 415 | 27 259 | 9,2 | 67 463 | 10 378 | 33 227 | 111 068 | 7,3 | 10,4 |

2009 | 53 584 | 26 516 | 27 068 | 9,2 | 67 154 | 10 517 | 33 016 | 110 687 | 7,3 | 10,4 |

2010 | 53 265 | 26 612 | 26 653 | 9,1 | 66 508 | 10 417 | 33 057 | 109 982 | 7,2 | 10,3 |

2011 | 53 361 | 26 698 | 26 663 | 9,2 | 66 423 | 10 473 | 33 169 | 110 065 | 7,2 | 10,4 |

2012 | 53 018 | 26 838 | 26 180 | 9,2 | 65 873 | 10 519 | 33 263 | 109 655 | 7,2 | 10,4 |

2013 | 52 709 | 26316 | 26 393 | 9,2 | 65 196 | 10 761 | 33 611 | 109 568 | 7,2 | 10,4 |

## 3.3 The average number of children per family is 1.84

When examining the number of children in families, allowance must be made for the family’s stage of life. For example, families which have only had their firstborn are processed as one-child families in statistics, as are also families with only their last-born living at home. Family statistics thus represent a cross-section of the situation at a given moment, i.e. the sizes of families in the country at a given point in time, and not the eventual numbers of children in families. Hence, it is difficult to compare the statistics relating to different points in time because of the uneven age structure of the population.

The clearest long-term change in the number of children in families is the fall in the number and relative proportion of families with at least four children since the post-war period (Table 7). The number of these large families started to go up after the mid-1980s but the growth then petered out at the onset of the 2000s. Over the past decade the number has stayed fairly steady. While at the same time the numbers of families with one or two children have decreased, the relative proportion of families with at least four children has risen to nearly five per cent. The number of families with at least four children has grown by around 300 from the previous year. At the end of 2013, there were 457 families with at least ten underage children.

Table 7. Number of children in families with underage children 1950–2013

Year | Families total | Number of children in families | Average number of children aged under 18 | |||

1 | 2 | 3 | 4- | |||

1950 | 599 329 | 234 682 | 173 092 | 95 100 | 96 455 | 2,24 |

1960 | 678 046 | 253 285 | 202 408 | 112 446 | 109 907 | 2,27 |

1970 | 677 035 | 287 649 | 222 276 | 100 358 | 66 752 | 1,99 |

1980 | 688 732 | 333 812 | 264 944 | 70 100 | 19 876 | 1,69 |

1990 | 640 637 | 286 549 | 250 317 | 81 163 | 22 608 | 1,77 |

2000 | 612 627 | 268 369 | 230 758 | 85 025 | 28 475 | 1,82 |

2005 | 591 528 | 255 549 | 225 879 | 81 775 | 28 325 | 1,83 |

2008 | 585 224 | 253 841 | 224 508 | 78 550 | 28 325 | 1,83 |

2009 | 584 172 | 254 457 | 223 777 | 77 528 | 28 410 | 1,83 |

2010 | 582 360 | 254 551 | 222 596 | 76 860 | 28 353 | 1,83 |

2011 | 580 547 | 253 995 | 221 643 | 76 367 | 28 542 | 1,83 |

2012 | 578 409 | 252 986 | 220 806 | 75 969 | 28 648 | 1,83 |

2013 | 575 683 | 250 318 | 220 656 | 75 725 | 28 984 | 1,84 |

% | ||||||

1950 | 100,0 | 39,2 | 28,9 | 15,9 | 16,1 | .. |

1960 | 100,0 | 37,4 | 29,9 | 16,6 | 16,2 | .. |

1970 | 100,0 | 42,5 | 32,8 | 14,8 | 9,9 | .. |

1980 | 100,0 | 48,5 | 38,5 | 10,2 | 2,9 | .. |

1990 | 100,0 | 44,7 | 39,1 | 12,7 | 3,5 | .. |

2000 | 100,0 | 43,8 | 37,7 | 13,9 | 4,6 | .. |

2005 | 100,0 | 43,2 | 38,2 | 13,8 | 4,8 | .. |

2008 | 100,0 | 43,4 | 38,4 | 13,4 | 4,8 | .. |

2009 | 100,0 | 43,6 | 38,3 | 13,3 | 4,9 | .. |

2010 | 100,0 | 43,7 | 38,2 | 13,2 | 4,9 | .. |

2011 | 100,0 | 43,8 | 38,2 | 13,2 | 4,9 | .. |

2012 | 100,0 | 43,7 | 38,2 | 13,1 | 5,0 | .. |

2013 | 100,0 | 43,5 | 38,3 | 13,2 | 5,0 | .. |

The average number of children in a family with underage children is not directly comparable at different points in time, because the sizes of the age groups at various stages of family life vary. The figures should be age-standardised. This does not give exactly unambiguous information either, since childbearing age has continuously risen. In the 2000s, the average number of children in a family with children has remained nearly unchanged.

The recent trend can be seen in Figure 6, which shows the average number of underage children living at home according to the mother's age group. The fact that women giving birth have become older is visible in that mothers aged over 40 have almost the same number of children in each age group as in the previous year and clearly more than in 1995. In turn, mothers aged under 35 have on average roughly the same number of children as in the year before.

Figure 6. Average number of children in families with underage children by age of mother in 1985, 1995, 2012 and 2013

Source: Population and Cause of Death Statistics, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Marjut Pietiläinen 029 551 2798, Timo Nikander 029 551 3250, vaesto.tilasto@stat.fi

Director in charge: Riitta Harala

Updated 21.11.2014

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF):
Families [e-publication].

ISSN=1798-3231. Annual Review 2013,
3. Families with children make up 39 per cent of all families
. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 9.3.2021].

Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/perh/2013/02/perh_2013_02_2014-11-21_kat_003_en.html