Family Formation in Flux – Causes, Consequences and Possible Futures
FLUX is a six-year research project funded by the Strategic Research Council (SRC) established within the Academy of Finland. It is part of the SRC Programme Demographic Changes – Causes, Consequences and Solutions, DEMOGRAPHY, 2021–2027.
The multidisciplinary FLUX consortium seeks evidence-based solutions for influencing and adapting to changes in fertility dynamics that accelerate population ageing. The overarching goal is to improve the social and economic sustainability of Finnish society. FLUX focuses on the changing fertility and family dynamics in Finland and provides insights into
- the underlying causes of the changes,
- the effects these changes have on individuals and society,
- the linkages of the dynamics with social and gender inequalities and psychosocial and economic well-being, and
- how social and family policies at both the state and local government levels can tackle the challenges created by the low-fertility landscape.
FLUX brings together leading researchers from demography and other key disciplines (sociology, psychology, economics, epidemiology, social policy, data science) relevant to understanding the causes and consequences of changing fertility and family dynamics. Our research uses excellent register, survey, and qualitative data.
Directors and management
PI, Consortium director: Marika Jalovaara, University of Turku
Deputy consortium director: Mikko Myrskylä, University of Helsinki
Responsible for interaction activities: Erika Lilja, University of Turku
Consortium coordinator: Mari Leino, University of Turku
Department of Social Research, INVEST Flagship, University of Turku (UTU)
Subproject leader Marika Jalovaara
Center for Social Data Science, University of Helsinki (UH CSDS)
Subproject leader Mikko Myrskylä
Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki (UH EDU)
Subproject leader Katariina Salmela-Aro
Faculty of Social Sciences, Business and Economics, Åbo Akademi University (ÅAU)
Subproject leader Eva Österbacka
Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, INVEST Flagship (THL)
Subproject leader Pasi Moisio
Finnish Centre for Pensions (ETK)
Subproject leader Heikki Tikanmäki
WP1 Demographic, social, and economic drivers of changing fertility and family dynamics
WP leader: Marika Jalovaara (UTU)
WP co-leader: Jessica Nisén (UTU)
Implemented jointly by: UTU and CSDS
FLUX WP1 seeks reasons for the fertility decline and high levels of childlessness. We study how changing fertility and family dynamics are linked to social and gender inequalities, employment and economic uncertainties, and societal crises. We use register and survey data sources and compare Nordic and other European countries.
Much of the fertility research concentrates on women, but we make gender comparisons and examine both partnership and fertility dynamics. WP1 is a core WP in FLUX and it is strongly linked to all other WPs.
WP2 Psychosocial factors driving fertility and family dynamics
WP leader: Katariina Salmela-Aro (EDU)
WP co-leader: Rasmus Mannerström (EDU)
Implemented jointly by: EDU and UTU
FLUX WP2 investigates how identity formation, personal goals, social media use (including online dating), values, and psychological well-being predict the formation, quality, and stability of partnerships, and intended and actual childbearing among young adults.
WP2 builds on longitudinal research to test the hypothesis that having a consolidated identity, strong mental health, goals related to developmental tasks and low digital cognitive overload positively predict family formation. WP2 hypothesises that in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and the rise of right-wing populism, values and lifestyles have become polarised by gender especially in the lower social strata, and that these forces are negatively affecting family formation.
Panel data is used to study changes in values and lifestyles in Finland and across Europe, and register and survey data is used to analyse socioeconomic and psychological characteristics. New interview data will also be collected from two cohorts.
WP3 Consequences of changes in childbearing patterns for maternal and child health
WP leader: Mika Gissler (UTU)
Implemented jointly by: UTU and CSDS
FLUX WP3 will study the consequences of fertility declines and delayed childbearing on maternal and perinatal health and subsequent health. A particular focus will be on couples and women who use fertility treatments, both successfully and unsuccessfully.
We will use our register data, which include rich information on socioeconomic characteristics across the life course and on reproductive health, e.g., births, induced abortions, and sexually transmitted infections). We also link information on fathers. Nordic register data on mothers, fathers, and children will be used to study the effects of infertility treatments on mortality and morbidity, including both somatic diseases and mental and behavioural disorders.
WP4 Changing fertility dynamics and the well-being of individuals and populations
WP leader: Mikko Myrskylä (CSDS)
Implemented jointly by: CSDS, UTU, and ETK
FLUX WP4 will use rich total population register data and advanced simulation and forecasting techniques to address gaps in our knowledge about the consequences of fertility and family dynamics. WP4 covers three key themes:
1) how timing of the parenthood – in terms of chronological age and life stage – predicts the health and well-being of children throughout their adult ages
2) how parenthood influences well-being and the extent to which well-being during the transition to parenthood predicts further fertility
3) lastly, WP4 will combine the results of WP6 on these associations and implement them in the pension simulation models of the ETK to evaluate the macro-economic impacts of lower and later fertility.
WP5 Forecast-based solutions for a sustainable welfare society
WP leader: Mikko Myrskylä (CSDS)
Implemented jointly by: CSDS and ETK
Predicting future fertility is critical for co-designing effective policies for a sustainable society. FLUX WP5 will combine cutting-edge forecasting and nowcasting approaches to predict Finnish fertility by age and parity (birth order) at the national and sub-national levels while accounting for long-term trends and short-term fluctuations. These forecasts will serve as a basis for co-creating long-term pension policy options for a sustainable welfare society.
Bayesian and extrapolation approaches will be extended to forecast Finnish fertility by region and parity over the long term. Web search data predicting pregnancies and pregnancy intentions will be nowcasted. These approaches will be combined to predict fertility, and the future fertility paths across regions will be compared and the far-reaching implications for population ageing and key macro-economic outcomes will be explored.
WP6 Childbirth, care, and employment
WP leader: Eva Österbacka (ÅAU)
Implemented jointly by: ÅAU and UTU
FLUX WP6 will study the short-term and long-term effects of childbirth and parental leave use on employment, job characteristics, and earnings among women and men; and the link between gendered childcare and subsequent partnership stability and fertility. We hypothesise that taking extended periods of childcare leave affects (1) labour market outcomes for women and men and (2) fertility; but these effects are highly heterogeneous.
We use Finnish and Nordic register data to compare across countries. We employ several strategies to identify the causal effects of childcare leaves in the Finnish context. In research on effects of parental leave reforms, we collaborate with the PREDLIFE project, and WP7 and Kela researchers. Together with WP3, we will compare the careers of involuntarily childless women (due to non-successful fertility treatments) and mothers to shed light on how career choices are related to motherhood penalties. The results of WP6 are also used in the simulation forecasts of WP4.
WP7 Social and family policies for a sustainable welfare society
WP leader: Pasi Moisio (THL)
WP co-leader: Merita Mesiäislehto (THL)
Implemented jointly by: THL and UTU
FLUX WP7 will study and compare at both the national and local levels how social and family policies – ranging from benefit schemes to local services and labour market regulation – can support fertility and family formation to promote sustainable demographic changes. WP7 evaluates how national policies contribute to childbearing and the economic and subjective well-being of families with children, which will provide valuable information for policy learning across the EU.
We use excellent data covering national randomised controlled trial (RCT) experiments and longitudinal EU- and municipality-level population surveys, linked to Finnish register data. We also use cross-sectional and longitudinal EU-SILC data to study the effects of differences in national policies and reforms on fertility rates and family well-being in a multilevel setting.
WP8 Societal interactions
FLUX WP8 is devoted to implementing societal interactions, led by the interaction coordinator working closely with the consortium PI and the WP leaders. Together with the PI and WP leaders, she will be responsible for developing and implementing the interaction strategy through a detailed action plan, for ensuring the optimal timing of interactions, and for developing a system for follow-ups. The aims of the communication are: 1) support the objectives of the interaction plan and research plan with active communications, 2) raise awareness about FLUX and its activities and results, and 3) enhance and protect the FLUX mission.
WP9 Management and coordination
FLUX WP9 is devoted to management and coordination. Consortium PI, who acts as the FLUX director, leads the WP9. The Deputy PI partners, cooperate closely, and share tasks with the PI and act as her substitute when needed.
The FLUX executive group consists of the sub-project and WP PIs, and the project and interaction coordinators. The executive group enhances FLUX’s operations as a whole following the research and interaction objectives. FLUX will nominate a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) and a Societal Impact Advisory Board (SIAB).
Scientific Advisory Board
- Professor Wolfgang Lutz, University of Vienna
- Professor Marlis Buchmann, University of Zurich
- Professor Lynn Prince Cooke, University of Bath
- Professor Ann Berrington, University of Southampton
- Professor Francesco Billari, Bocconi University
Societal Impact Advisory Board
- Jouni Varanka, Head of Unit, Strategy Department, Prime Minister’s Office
- Liisa Siika-Aho, Director (Chair of the Family Leave Reform working group), Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
- Hanna Tainio, Deputy Managing Director, Association of Finnish Municipalities
- Eija Koivuranta, Managing Director, the Family Federation of Finland;
- Suvi-Anne Siimes, Managing Director; The Finnish Pension Alliance TELA
- Anna Moring, PhD, Leading Expert, Network of Family Diversity
- Mikko Niemelä, Professor, University of Turku
- Touko Niinimäki, Equality and non-discrimination specialist The Finnish National Youth Council Allianssi
Demographic Changes – Causes, Consequences and Solutions (DEMOGRAPHY)
This strategic research programme seeks research-based solutions for adapting to changes in the population’s age structure and maintaining the functional and renewal capacity of society. Read more at the programme’s website.
Acknowledgement of funder for FLUX researchers
Remember to include the acknowledgement of the funder to your publication! In addition to the consortium leader’s decision number, you should include the number(s) of all participating subprojects.
Research was funded by the Strategic Research Council (SRC), FLUX consortium, decision numbers: 345130 and [subproject decision number].
Research is a part of the project Family Formation in Flux – Causes, Consequences, and Possible Futures (FLUX). Research was funded by the Strategic Research Council (SRC) established within the Academy of Finland (decision numbers: 345130 and [subproject decision number]).