1. Causes of death in 2011

The life expectancy of a man living in Finland in the early 1950s was around 60 years and that of a woman 65 years. Life expectancy has lengthened considerably: the life expectancy for a boy born in 2011 is 77.2 years and 83.5 years for a girl.

Over the last 20 years, the number of deaths in Finland has been between 47,000 and 51,000 per year. A total of 50,568 persons, 25,327 men and 25,241 women, died in 2011. Of them, 9,989 persons were of working-age (aged 15 to 64). Twenty years earlier, in 1991, the number of working-age persons who died was 11,849, so the figure has decreased.

The most common disease of the circulatory system, ischaemic heart disease, was the cause of only about one fifth (22%) of all deaths in 2011. Diseases of the circulatory system caused 40 per cent of all deaths. Neoplasms were the cause of nearly every fourth (24%) death. Lung cancer was the most common type of cancer among men and breast cancer among women.

Dementia and Alzheimer's caused around 12 per cent of deaths, 17 per cent of women's deaths and nearly eight 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 due to the fact that women live longer than men.

Figure 1. Leading causes of death among men aged 15 to 64 in 2011 (54-group classification)

Figure 1. Leading causes of death among men aged 15 to 64 in 2011 (54-group classification)

Figure 2. Leading causes of death among women aged 15 to 64 in 2011 (54-group classification)

Figure 2. Leading causes of death among women aged 15 to 64 in 2011 (54-group classification)

In 2011, every fifth person who died was of working age. Altogether 6,917 men and 3,072 women aged 15 to 64, i.e. of working age, died. Deaths of working-age men from ischaemic heart disease have halved over the past two decades. Over the same time period, alcohol-related diseases and alcohol poisonings have doubled. 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 2011, the number of suicides among working-age men was 571, which is 29 fewer than in the previous year.

The most common causes of death among working-age women were alcohol-related causes, cancers and especially breast cancer, as well as accidents and suicides. Women’s deaths from alcohol-related causes has more than doubled over the past 30 years and their number exceeded women’s deaths from breast cancer and ischaemic heart disease in 2011. The number of suicides among working-age women has remained unchanged over the past decades. In 2011, the number of suicides among working-age women was 172, which is 20 fewer than in the previous year.


Source: Causes of death, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Marja-Liisa Helminen 09 1734 3273, Airi Pajunen 09 1734 3605, kuolemansyyt@stat.fi

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma


Updated 21.12.2012

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Causes of death [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-5078. 2011, 1. Causes of death in 2011 . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 24.10.2017].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ksyyt/2011/ksyyt_2011_2012-12-21_kat_001_en.html

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