Changes in length of grandparenthood over centuries in Finland


Finnish Yearbook of Population Research has published a special issue on Family and Ageing, Vol. 52 (2017)

Grandparental help and support in raising grandchildren can benefit both generations and has significant social and economic importance. The time grandparents and grandchildren share together varies over historical time: changing child mortality rates, grandparental longevity, and childbearing patterns during the past century have profoundly altered the length of grandparenthood.

A recent article published in the Finnish Yearbook of Population Research investigated how the time of grandparenthood changed in Finland from the end of the 18th century, when Finland was a poor agrarian country, until the mid-20th century, when Finland had emerged as an industrialised nation with improved health care and living conditions. Simon Chapman and colleagues from the research group of professor Virpi Lummaa at Turku University found that the time grandparents and their grandchildren shared increased greatly through time. Whereas average grandchildren had at least one grandmother alive for only 5 years during the 18th and 19th centuries, children born in the 1950s had a grandmother for on average 24 years. Grandfather presence was shorter than that of grandmothers and increased from a couple of years during the 19th century to 16 years for children born in 1930s.

Results also show that more children had grandparents alive at their birth over time, and grandparents were grandparents for longer. These increases began around the 1860s/1870s.​

The 2017 Finnish Yearbook of Population Research also features analyses of the fertility response to economic recession in Finland, a study of self-reported mental wellbeing among slum-dwelling adolescents in Western India, and a comparison of the two language groups in Finland concerning reception of sickness allowance. Research findings present an outline of the steps involved in the data digitization process, and an overview of the Migration Karelia (MiKARELIA) database now available to researchers.


More information:

Mirkka Danielsbacka, guest editor,

Antti Tanskanen, guest editor, antti.tanskanen(at)

Anna Rotkirch, editor-in-chief, rel. 040-7763086, anna.rotkirch(at)

Finnish Yearbook of Population Research, Volume 52 (2017)

The Finnish Yearbook of Population Research is a peer reviewed, open access journal. It deals with a wide range of global demographic issues as well as current population trends in Finland, Scandinavia, the Baltic countries, and other parts of Europe. FYPR is published by the Population Research Institute of The Family Federation of Finland (Väestöliitto) in collaboration with The Institute of Migration and The Finnish Demographic Society.