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Published: 21 November 2014

Parents of families with underage children are unmarried more often than before

The numbers of families with children with one parent or cohabiting couples have been growing over the past twenty years, but in recent years the numbers have remained nearly unchanged. Of families with underage children, 19 per cent are families of a cohabiting couple, 18 per cent of a mother and children, and three per cent families of a father and children. The marital status of parents of the families with underage children has changed in around twenty years. Nowadays, the marital status of parents is more often unmarried than in the mid-1990s.

Marital status of parents in one-parent and cohabiting families with underage children in 1995 and 2013

Marital status of parents in one-parent and cohabiting families with underage children in 1995 and 2013

The share of unmarried mothers and fathers in one-parent families with underage children has grown between 1995 and 2013. In father and children families, 28 per cent of the fathers were unmarried in 2013. The share is clearly higher than in 1995, when just 13 per cent were unmarried. This indicates that cohabiting partnerships are now dissolved more often, but also that the child or children remain registered more with their father than before. As many as 41 per cent of the mothers of mother and children families are unmarried, mostly as a result of divorce. In 1995, nearly one-third of the mothers of underage children were unmarried in one-parent families and nearly one half were divorced.

There was not much of a difference in the marital status of women and men living with children and cohabiting partners. The marital status of four out of five mothers and fathers of families with children living with a cohabiting partner was unmarried and that of nearly every fifth divorced. For both women and men, the share of unmarried parents has risen from 1995 and the share of divorced parents has in turn diminished.

The share of divorced parents in parents of one-parent families has declined slightly from 1995 to 2013. In divorces, the children usually stay with their mother. Today, 44 per cent of the mothers of mother and children families and 52 per cent of the fathers of father and children families are divorced. For a parent of a one-parent family and the cohabiting parent the marital status "married" means that the divorce of the parent is probably pending and that the parent is already living with the children in a different address than the other parent.

Widowed parents are in general very few in one-parent families and families of cohabiting partners and the share of widows has gone down even further. Relatively more single-supporter fathers than single-supporter mothers are widowed, although fewer fathers than mothers become widowed. The share of widowed as the marital status of parents in one-parent families has been falling since 1995.

Source: Population and Cause of Death Statistics, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Marjut Pietiläinen 029 551 2798, Timo Nikander 029 551 3250,

Director in charge: Riitta Harala

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Updated 21.11.2014

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Families [e-publication].
ISSN=1798-3231. Annual Review 2013. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 6.12.2022].
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