1. Causes of death in 2013

A total of 51,500 persons, 25,600 men and 25,900 women, died in 2013. The longer life expectancy is visible in the age distribution of deaths. People are dying at an ever older age: nearly two in three were aged over 75 and one in three were over 85. Four hundred of those who died had turned 100.

Due to the age structure of persons who died, the typical causes of death of older age groups govern the causes of death distribution of the entire population. In 2013, thirty-eight per cent of all deaths in Finland were caused by diseases of the circulatory system and 24 per cent by neoplasms. The commonest disease of the circulatory system, ischaemic heart disease, was the cause of around one-fifth of all deaths. The commonest types of cancer leading to death for men were lung cancer and prostate cancer, and correspondingly for women breast cancer and lung cancer.

Altogether 7,500 persons died from dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, which represented 15 per cent of all deaths. The number of deaths caused by dementia has grown rapidly in the past decade partly due to the ageing of the population. Dementia mortality among women is twice as high as among men, which is mainly because women live longer than men. Of the deaths among women, one in five and nearly one in ten among men was caused by dementia.

In 2013, the share of people of working-age (15 to 64) among all deaths was 18 per cent (9,200 persons) and the share of those aged under 15 was close on one-half per cent (176 children). In particular, the number of children who died under the age of one year decreased clearly from the previous year. Altogether, the number of deaths among persons aged under 65 decreased by 400 from 2012.

Among persons of working-age, 1,400 died from alcohol-related causes.

One in four of the men that died in 2013 were of working-age and one in ten of women. Most working-age people died from neoplasms (29%) and from diseases of the circulatory system (22%). More than half of working-age people deceased during the year died of these two causes. One in ten of them died in accidents. The share of persons that died from alcohol-related causes and diseases, and alcohol poisonings was 15 per cent or 1,400 persons of working-age. Deaths from alcohol-related causes among working-age men and women has decreased clearly from the peak level of 2007 but is still higher than ten years ago. Eight per cent of deaths among working-age people were caused by suicides despite the fact that suicides have decreased rapidly in the 1990s.

Table 1. Main causes of death among working-age population (aged 15 to 64) in 2013

54–group time series classification Total Males Females Total Males Females
Number Number Number % % %
Neoplasms 2 640 1 391 1 249 29 22 43
- Malignant neoplasm of larynx, trachea, bronchus and lung 546 360 186 6 6 6
- Malignant neoplasm of breast 290 0 290 3 0 10
- Malignant neoplasm of pancreas 232 124 108 3 2 4
Diseases of the circulatory system 2 041 1 601 440 22 25 15
- Ischaemic heart diseases 1 030 884 146 11 14 5
Alcohol related diseases and accidental poisoning by alcohol 1 386 1 084 302 15 17 10
Accidents 876 706 170 10 11 6
Suicides 706 529 177 8 8 6
Disease of the respiratory system 227 162 65 2 3 2
Other causes of death 1 302 819 483 14 13 17
Deaths total 9 178 6 292 2 886 100 100 100

Working-age men were killed most by diseases of the circulatory system (25%), neoplasms (22%) and alcohol-related causes (17%). The most common disease of the circulatory system among men was still ischaemic heart disease even though the number of people who have died from it has halved over the past twenty years. The most common type of cancer that killed working-age men was lung cancer. The number of accidents among working-age men decreased by nearly one-quarter compared to 2003. Positive development has also taken place in suicide mortality. In 2013, the number of suicides among working-age men was 529, which is one-fifth fewer than ten years earlier.

The main cause of death category for working-age women was neoplasms. As many as 43 per cent of women deceased at working-age died from neoplasms. The most common type of cancer was breast cancer, which caused one in ten deaths. More women of working-age died from alcohol-related causes than from breast cancer. Among working-age women, the importance of diseases of the circulatory system as the cause of death has decreased: their share in 2013 was 15 per cent when twenty years ago the share was nearly one-quarter of all deaths. Six per cent of deaths among working-age women were suicides.

Diseases of the circulatory system caused one-half of deaths among persons aged over 90.

In 2013, eighty-two per cent of those who died were over the age of 65. Their structures of causes of death clearly differ from the structure of working-age people: the share of suicides, accidents and alcohol-related causes of death is clearly smaller and the share of dementia and diseases of the circulatory system is higher than for people of working-age (Table 2).

The most common cause of death category for persons aged over 65 was diseases of the circulatory system, which caused over 40 per cent of the deaths. The share of diseases of the circulatory system in causes of death grows with age: For those aged 65 to 74 they killed one-third and for those aged over 90 as many as one-half (Figure 1).

The share of neoplasms as a cause of death was smaller among those of retirement age than among those of working-age. Among persons aged over 65, nearly one in four died of neoplasms. The share of persons that died from neoplasms decreases rapidly with age: among persons aged over 85 they killed 12 per cent and among those aged over 95 they killed only seven per cent. The most common type of cancer that killed old people was lung cancer.

Table 2. Main causes of death among persons aged 65 or over in 2013

Time series classification Total Males Females Total Males Females
Number Number Number % % %
Neoplasms 9 564 5 007 4 557 23 26 20
- Malignant neoplasm of larynx, trachea, bronchus and lung 1 713 1171 542 4 6 2
- Malignant neoplasm of lymphoid, haematopoietic and related tissue 951 459 492 2 2 2
- Malignant neoplasm of pancreas 793 375 418 2 2 2
Diseases of the circulatory system 17 497 7 872 9 625 42 41 42
- Ischaemic heart diseases 9 522 4 674 4 848 23 24 21
Dementia, Alzheimer's disease 7 490 2 380 5 110 18 12 22
Alcohol related diseases and accidental poisoning by alcohol 540 418 122 1 2 1
Accidents 1 354 711 643 3 4 3
Suicides 179 136 43 0 1 0
Disease of the respiratory system 1 661 1 023 638 4 5 3
Other causes of death 3 839 1 691 2 148 9 9 9
Deaths total 42 124 19 238 22 886 100 100 100

The importance of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease as a cause of death has grown strongly. In 2013, dementia was already the third most common cause of death category for elderly people after diseases of the circulatory system and neoplasms. It killed nearly one-fifth of persons who had turned 65 and one-third of those aged over 95. Dementia mortality has developed over the past twenty years in a similar fashion for both men and women (Figure 5). Dementia mortality of Finnish men and women was the highest in EU countries relative to the population in 2011.

In 2013, one in five of the persons who committed suicides were aged over 65. The share of suicides in the causes of death for elderly people is, however, very low, under one per cent. In an international comparison in 2011, the suicide mortality of Finns aged over 65 did not differ from the average for EU countries.

More information about the causes of death of children, working-age persons and those aged over 65 can be found in Appendix tables 1a to 1c and in the database tables.

Figure 1. Proportions of causes of death by age groups in 2013

Figure 1. Proportions of causes of death by age groups in 2013

Source: Causes of death, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Airi Pajunen 029 551 3605, Jari Hellanto 029 551 3291, kuolemansyyt@stat.fi

Director in charge: Riitta Harala


Updated 30.12.2014

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Causes of death [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-5078. 2013, 1. Causes of death in 2013 . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 21.8.2017].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ksyyt/2013/ksyyt_2013_2014-12-30_kat_001_en.html

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