All the single households, where do they all come from?

Statistics Finland recently reported that the number of one-person households went up by 17,000 last year, accounting for more than one million of the total of 2,580,000 Finnish households, as the most common category.

What’s behind the trend? Probably there are various reasons. Firstly, as pointed out by the National Institute for Health and Welfare, single dwellers are a diverse lot, who could be young or old, studying, working or unemployed and residing by themselves either for a short while or through life.

Everyone surely agrees that the (at least relatively) good status of women in Finnish society and working life is in many ways great, for men as well. And what is also pretty good is the availability of housing in this country. One of the consequences thereof is the fact that, as reported by Eurostat, Finland has the largest relative proportion of single women without children of all EU countries; as of 2009, these accounted for 23 per cent of all households, compared with 17 per cent elsewhere in the Union.

The relative proportion of single male households in Finland also exceeds the European average. What’s more, a survey conducted some years ago by Think If Laboratories Oy showed that 57 per cent of single dwellers consider finding a partner the biggest wish they have in life.

Why don’t Finnish single men and women simply get together then? Researcher Henry Laasanen claims that this is because women today have stricter criteria for accepting a potential partner, writes Helsingin Uutiset. “It used to be enough for a man to have a regular job and be capable of supporting himself and his family,” Laasanen states. “However, this no longer guarantees success in partner seeking.” At the face of this toughening competition, many men “give up” and focus on other things.

Other valid-sounding explanations may well be given, but the numbers hardly lie: living alone is a growth trend in Finland.

Mika Oksanen