1. Causes of death in 2009

The life expectancy of a Finnish man in the early 1950s was around 60 years and that of a woman 65 years. The life expectancy is 76.5 years for a boy born in 2009 and 83.1 years for a girl.

Over the last 20 years, the number of deaths in Finland has been between 47,000 and 50,000 per year. A total of 49,904 persons, 25,152 men and 24,752 women, died in 2009.

In 1989, the number of deaths among working-age population (aged 15 to 64) was 12,241 and in 2009, or twenty years later it was 10,653.

Infant mortality, i.e. deaths of infants under one year of age, has further declined in recent decades. Over the 1980s around 400 infants under one year of age died per year, in 2009 only 160. Mortality of children aged one to 14 has more than halved in the last twenty years: in 1989 the number of deaths among children was 197 and in 2009 only 81. This corresponds to under ten (9.7) deaths per 100,000. The decrease in mortality is mainly due to the lower number of fatal accidents.

The most common disease of the circulatory system, ischaemic heart disease, was the cause of only about one fifth (22%) of all deaths in 2009. Diseases of the circulatory system caused 40 per cent of all deaths. Neoplasms were the cause of nearly every fourth (23%) death. Lung cancer was the most common type of cancer among men and breast cancer among women.

Dementia and Alzheimer's caused around every tenth death, 15 per cent of women's deaths and seven per cent of men's. The number of deaths caused by dementia has grown in the past few decades mainly due to the ageing of the population. Dementia mortality is clearly higher among women than among men, which may mainly be because women live longer than men do.

Table 1a. Leading causes of death among men aged 15 to 64 in 1989 and 2009

  TOTAL DEATHS Alcohol related diseases and accid. poisoning by alcohol Ischaemic heart diseases Suicides Lung cancer Cerebrovascular diseases Accidental poisonings excl. accidental poisonings by alcohol Diseases of the respiratory system Accidental falls
1989 8879 734 2319 962 544 448 184 322 176
2009 7389 1307 1139 630 401 285 236 202 201

Table 1b. Leading causes of death among women aged 15 to 64 in 1989 and 2009

  TOTAL DEATHS Alcohol related diseases and accid. poisoning by alcohol Malignant neoplasm of breast Suicides Lung cancer Ischaemic heart diseases Cerebrovascular diseases Accidental poisonings excl. accidental poisonings by alcohol Accidental falls
1989 3362 137 330 235 95 419 289 49 35
2009 3264 332 324 232 192 186 155 81 34

Table 2a. Leading causes of death among men aged 65 or over in 1989 and 2009

  TOTAL DEATHS Ischaemic heart diseases Dementia, Alzheimer's disease Cerebrovascular diseases Lung cancer Malignant neoplasm of prostate Accidental falls
1989 15 314 5 218 602 1 506 1 032 514 227
2009 17 643 4 885 1 649 1 471 1 067 719 477

Table 2b. Leading causes of death among women aged 65 or over in 1989 and 2009

  TOTAL DEATHS Ischaemic heart diseases Dementia, Alzheimer's disease Cerebrovascular diseases Malignant neoplasm of breast Accidental falls Lung cancer
1989 20 998 6 112 1 476 3 192 402 390 241
2009 21 367 5 324 3 805 2 468 495 475 409

In 2009, altogether 10,653 persons of working age (aged 15 to 64) died, 7,389 men and 3,264 women.

Men’s deaths from ischaemic heart disease have halved in the past two decades or so. Over the same time period, alcohol-related diseases and alcohol poisonings have doubled and clearly more men of working age now die from alcohol-related causes than from ischaemic heart disease. Other leading causes of death among men of working age are accidents and suicides. The number of suicides has gone down over the past twenty years. In 2009, the number of suicides among working-age men was 630, which is 47 lower than in the previous year.

The most common causes of death among working-age women were alcohol-related causes, cancers and especially breast cancer, and suicides and accidents. Over the same period, women’s deaths from alcohol-related causes have more than doubled and their number now exceeds women’s deaths from breast cancer and ischaemic heart disease. The number of suicides among working-age women has remained unchanged over the past decades, but in 2009 they numbered 232, which is 42 more than in the previous year.


Source: Causes of death, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Irmeli Penttilä (09) 1734 3253, Helena Korpi (09) 1734 3605, Ulla Arkkio (09) 1734 3757, kuolemansyyt@stat.fi

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma


Updated 22.2.2011

Contents (Causes of death 2009, Annual review)

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Causes of death [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-5078. Annual review 2009, 1. Causes of death in 2009 . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 23.9.2014].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ksyyt/2009/01/ksyyt_2009_01_2011-02-22_kat_002_en.html.

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