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Childlessness trend continues in Finland

New data show that in 2018, one-third of men aged 45-49 with a basic education had no children.

Childlessness was more common in urban centres, according to the data. Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

New data released by Statistics Finland on Friday suggest rising childlessness in Finland, with the phenomenon especially evident among men and women with a basic level of education.

Fresh figures indicated that in 2018, childlessness was highest among women aged 45—49 who speak national languages and who had only completed basic education, at 22.5 percent. The corresponding percentage of childless women with an upper secondary school education in the same age group was 18.7 percent and 18.3 percent for their peers with tertiary level qualifications.

Compared to 10 years earlier, the percentage of childless women aged 45—49 with secondary education was 3.6 percentage points higher. The difference among women with basic education was three percentage points.

The data revealed that the disparity among men was even greater. One in three men between the ages of 45 and 49 who had completed only basic education was childless. Among men of a similar age with an upper secondary school education the percentage was 29.4 percent, and 20.4 percent among men of the same age with a tertiary level education.

Decline in highly educated women living alone

Education levels were also reflected in relationships, according to Statistics Finland. The data crunchers reported that last year, more 45—49-year-olds with a basic education were living alone than in 1987, the baseline year for the statistical report. On the other hand, 43 percent of people in the same age cohort who had completed upper secondary school were in relationships, compared to 37 percent in 1987.

However more with a university degree had no children or partner than women in similar circumstances. The statistics indicated that the percentage of highly educated women living alone had declined significantly from about 70 percent in 1987 to around 50 percent in 2018.

The data also revealed that at the end of last year, the highest proportion of childless women – 22 percent – could be found in southern Finland’s Uusimaa region. By comparison, 14 percent of women aged 45—49 in Ostrobothnia in western Finland were childless.

The numbers also suggested that childlessness was more prevalent in urban centres, with up to 40 percent of childless women between the ages of 45 and 49 living in city centres in 2018.