7. Prevalence of living alone or as a twosome is growing

At the end of 2010, Finland had 2,537,200 household-dwelling units. A household-dwelling unit is formed by all persons living permanently at the same address. Those permanently resident in institutions do not form household-dwelling units and are not included in the household population. This applies also to persons whose dwellings do not meet the definition of a dwelling (see Concepts).

The number of household dwelling-units grew by 19,800 from the previous year. The number went up by 1,700 more than in the year before. As before, the number of household-dwelling units of one or two persons increased whereas that of household-dwelling units of three persons decreased slightly. The number of household-dwelling units of at least seven persons grew by a couple of hundred. The numbers of other household-dwelling units fell.

The commonest household-dwelling unit today consists of one person. In the 1975 population census two-person household-dwelling units were still the most numerous. By the next population census in 1980, one-person household-dwelling units had already become the most numerous. One-person household-dwelling units make up 41 per cent and two-person household-dwelling units almost one-third of all household-dwelling units. Household-dwelling units larger than this make up the remaining 26 per cent.

Table 11. Household-dwelling units by the number of persons living in them in 1960–2010

Year    Household- dwelling units total Household-dwelling unit by number of persons Persons in household- dwelling units Average size of household- dwelling units
1 2             3             4            5           6         7+       
1960 1 204 385 188 995 245 921 229 824 211 473 141 526 84 147 102 499 4 396 398 3,34
1970 1 420 723 288 970 323 640 284 336 252 696 140 089 69 293 61 699 4 540 945 2,99
1980 1 781 771 482 476 457 667 345 769 313 626 118 678 40 681 22 874 4 708 299 2,64
1985 1 887 710 532 094 514 825 347 127 324 365 117 290 33 895 18 114 4 839 696 2,56
1990 2 036 732 646 229 597 928 332 295 300 429 112 714 30 596 16 541 4 927 430 2,42
1995 2 180 934 766 636 652 608 323 921 278 102 110 370 31 616 17 681 5 040 600 2,31
2000 2 295 386 856 746 722 437 312 646 254 707 103 339 29 328 16 183 5 081 354 2,21
2005 2 429 500 964 739 789 950 297 276 240 517 96 607 26 202 14 209 5 153 727 2,12
2006 2 453 826 983 626 801 068 294 518 239 413 95 056 25 882 14 263 5 172 922 2,11
2007 2 476 505 999 812 811 596 292 140 239 151 93 746 25 639 14 421 5 195 414 2,10
2008 2 499 332 1 014 974 822 639 290 820 238 628 92 316 25 408 14 547 5 219 284 2,09
2009 2 517 393 1 025 658 830 843 291 056 238 529 91 368 25 327 14 612 5 242 156 2,08
2010 2 537 197 1 040 378 837 234 290 767 238 135 90 845 25 025 14 813 5 246 580 2,07
Per cent
1960 100,0 15,7 20,4 19,1 17,6 11,8 7,0 8,5 - -
1970 100,0 20,3 22,8 20,0 17,8 9,9 4,9 4,3 - -
1980 100,0 27,1 25,7 19,4 17,6 6,7 2,3 1,3 - -
1985 100,0 28,2 27,3 18,4 17,2 6,2 1,8 1,0 - -
1990 100,0 31,7 29,4 16,3 14,8 5,5 1,5 0,8 - -
1995 100,0 35,2 29,9 14,9 12,8 5,1 1,4 0,8 - -
2000 100,0 37,3 31,5 13,6 11,1 4,5 1,3 0,7 - -
2005 100,0 39,7 32,5 12,2 9,9 4,0 1,1 0,6 - -
2006 100,0 40,1 32,7 12,0 9,8 3,9 1,1 0,6 - -
2007 100,0 40,4 32,8 11,8 9,7 3,8 1,0 0,6 - -
2008 100,0 40,6 32,9 11,6 9,5 3,7 1,0 0,6 - -
2009 100,0 40,7 33,0 11,6 9,5 3,6 1,0 0,6 - -
2010 100,0 41,0 33,0 11,5 9,4 3,6 1,0 0,6 - -

Figure 12. Household-dwelling units by size in 1990–2010

Figure 12. Household-dwelling units by size in 1990–2010

Figure 13. Household-dwelling unit population by size in 1990–2010

Figure 13. Household-dwelling unit population by size in 1990–2010

Household-dwelling units can also be studied from the population perspective in order to ascertain how many people in Finland live in each household-dwelling unit size class. The proportion of those living alone of the total population has gradually grown from 13 per cent two decades ago to today's one-fifth. The majority (32%) of the population live in two-person household-dwelling units. At least one-half of the population aged 55 to 79 live in two-person household-dwelling units, in other words the children have already flown the nest and both spouses are still alive.

All in all, women live alone more often than men do. In percentages, one-quarter of the women and 22 per cent of the men aged over 15 live alone. The gendered proportional distribution of living alone is somewhat different when examined against age. Changes are the most drastic in the life cycle of women, who live alone when young and most probably again when old. The proportion of women living alone is the lowest when they are about 40 years old; this is when 11 per cent of women in this age group live alone. Like young women, young men live alone. However, the number of men living alone does not fall with age to a level as low as that of women living alone. Twenty-three per cent of 33-year-old men live alone and the proportion remains almost unchanged right up to the age of 75. The number of men living alone is partly explained by divorces. In a divorce, the children usually stay with the mother and the father lives alone, at least temporarily. One-third of the men aged at least 80 live alone.

When comparing living alone today with the situation in 1990 we find that living alone has increased strongly expressly in the youngest age groups of women and men as well as among both old men and old women. In terms of numbers, 64-year-old women are the largest age group of those living alone.

Figure 14. Men and women living alone as a proportion of age group in 1990 and 2010

Figure 14. Men and women living alone as a proportion of age group in 1990 and 2010

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 30.11.2011

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Families [e-publication].
ISSN=1798-3231. Annual Review 2010, 7. Prevalence of living alone or as a twosome is growing . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 27.6.2019].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/perh/2010/02/perh_2010_02_2011-11-30_kat_007_en.html