Quality description, deaths 2015

1. Relevance of statistical information

The main source used when producing Finnish population statistics is the Population Information System of the Population Register Centre. Changes in the data on the vital events of the resident population are updated into the Population Information System continuously by local population register authorities. Population Register Centre is leading updating activities. From 1975 Statistics Finland has obtained population data from the Population Register Centre.

The last population registration was carried out in Finland on 1 January 1989. After that the Population Information System has been updated by notifications of changes. The data stored in the Population Information System are specified in the act on the Population Information System and on the certificate services of the Population Register Centre (21 August 2009/661).

Statistics Finland’s function is to compile statistics on conditions in society (Statistics Finland Act of 24 January 1992/48). These also include demographic statistics. Statistics Finland’s Rules of Procedure defines the Population Statistics unit as the producer of demographic statistics (Statistics Finland’s Rules of Procedure, TK-00-341-15).

In accordance with the Act on the Municipality of Domicile, the municipality of domicile and the place of residence of individuals are recorded in the Population Information System. The municipality in which a person lives or the one construed by the inhabitant as the municipality of domicile on the grounds of residence, family ties, livelihood or other equivalent circumstances, or to which the inhabitant has close links due to the aforementioned circumstances is deemed the municipality of domicile. (Act on the Municipality of Domicile, 201/1994.) The population registered in the Population Information System is divided into those present and those absent. Those present are permanent residents of Finland, either Finnish nationals or aliens. Those absent are Finnish nationals who when emigrating from the country have reported that they intend to be absent from Finland for more than one year, with the exception of Finnish nationals who are diplomats and those working in development co-operation (Act on the Municipality of Domicile, 201/1994.) Only changes in the population resident in Finland on the day of the event are taken into account when compiling statistics of vital events.

Persons moving to Finland from abroad are classified in the population statistics if the place of residence they have declared as their municipality of domicile is later confirmed as their place of residence. Staying in Finland for clearly more than one year is the prerequisite for registering of the foreign citizens into the population of Finland if a person does not have EU citizenship. The length of employment or studying from entry into the country or the length of employment contract must be two years for a foreign citizen to receive the right to a place of domicile. Staying in Finland for one year is the prerequisite for registering of the citizens of EU countries into the population of Finland if they have already lived a year in Finland. At a justified request, the information on a foreign citizen may also be entered after a short stay if he/she has, for example, a temporary place of residence in Finland as defined in the Act on the Municipality of Domicile and the entry is necessary for the realisation of rights related to employment or a similar circumstance (Act 661/2009).


Deaths have to be reported immediately either to a physician or to the police. The health care unit or the physician has to report the death to the Population Information System or its maintainer. (Act 1065/2009). A death certificate is issued by a physician. If determining the cause of death requires an autopsy, the death certificate is issued by a forensic pathologist after the information acquired from the autopsy is complete.

If a physician's permission for burial or the death certificate cannot be obtained without unreasonable difficulty or delay, the police may issue, upon consultation with a forensic pathologist or a physician, a corresponding report on the cause of death based on the examination performed. The police must submit immediately the death report to the National Institute for Health and Welfare (NIHW) and report the person's death to the register office where the deceased was a resident. (Decree 1642/2009)

The death certificate or the report is to be delivered to the Regional Office of NIHW, where it is checked and forwarded to Statistics Finland. The checking is made by a forensic pathologist or a specifically trained provincial physician (Statutes 948/1973 and 99/1998). Death certificates are used at Statistics Finland for compiling the cause-of-death statistics, which are published as a separate series.

Persons declared dead have been sometimes included in deaths since 2005 when the amended act (127/2005) on declaring someone as legally dead made it possible in certain circumstances to speed up considerably the process of declaring someone as legally dead. A petition for declaring a person as legally dead can be submitted immediately after his/her disappearance if at the time of the disappearance the person was in an accident causing immediate mortal danger. A petition for declaring someone as legally dead can also be submitted after a waiting period of between one and five years dependent on the situation. The date of the day when the person was last known to have been alive is regarded a the starting date of the waiting period. A petition for declaring someone as legally dead must be submitted to the court in whose district the disappeared person’s last municipality of residence was located. The court concerned also makes a decision about declaring the person as legally dead and about the date of death of the disappeared person. The court will enter the decision about declaring the person as legally dead into the Population Information System from which they become available to Statistics Finland.

The number of deaths in the population statistics differs to some extent from the one in the cause-of-death statistics compiled on the basis of death certificates. The statistics include a separate category for infant mortality, i.e. for children who died before their first birthday per 1,000 live-born children. Perinatal mortality refers to the number of stillbirths and those who died in their first week of life per 1,000 births. The crude death rate indicates the number of deaths per 1,000 of the mean population. The age-specific death rate refers to the number of deaths per 1,000 of the mean population in the age group in question. The probability of death at some age x refers to the probability of a person living until the age of x to die during that year of age.

2. Methodological description of survey

The main source used when producing Finnish population statistics is the Population Information System of the Population Information Centre. Local register office updates a Population Information System with information it gets from persons experiencing vital events and parishes of the Evangelical-Lutheran and Greek Orthodox churches. Hospitals send information of births and deaths in machine-language format to maintenance of Population Information System. Local courts take information of decisions of adoptions and divorces dealt in the court into the Population Information System. The Finnish Immigration Services decide mostly about the granting of Finnish citizenships (the Nationality Act 359/2003) and enters data about the decisions into the Population Information System. Statistics Finland receives the updated data of vital events in machine-language format on a weekly basis.

The deadline for delivering data to Statistics Finland on vital events in the statistical year is the end of January of the following year. The exception to this is the data on stillbirths, which were expected by the end of August. Data on population changes in statistical year delivered to Statistics Finland after this date are included in the data of the following year.

3. Correctness and accuracy of data

In general, the Population Information System of the Population Register Centre can be considered very exhaustive as regards persons. In order that a person obtains a personal identity code, he or she has to be registered in the Population Information System. He can become to a permanent or temporary inhabitant of a municipality of Finland. It is practically impossible to live in Finland without a personal identity code. A personal identity code is needed so that one can work legally, open a bank account, have dealings with authorities and so on. It can be safely assumed that Finland cannot have any substantial numbers of ’moonlighters’ who receive their pay in cash for periods of over one year, for example.

After abolishment of yearly checking of domicile registers (January 1) in 1989 the Population Information System has been maintained only by notifications of changes to population information. Their correctness is determined by a reliability survey made on the addresses in the Population Information System.

The Population Register Centre charges Statistics Finland with the task of conducting a sample survey on correctness of address information. Around 11,000 people are asked whether their address in the Population Information System is correct. In the 2011 survey, the address was correct for 99.0 per cent of the respondents.

In connection with municipal elections, returned notifications of voting sent to foreigners usually reveal around 1,000 persons who have moved from the country without giving notice and are thus still included in the Finnish population. The local register office removes them from the resident population in the Population Information System before the following turn of the year.

4. Timeliness and promptness of published data

Final vital statistics are published yearly in April to May, except for those on stillbirths, which are released in September. Since 1999 the regional division used has been that of the first day of the following year. Thus the municipalities that unite on the first day of the new year are already combined in the statistics on the last day of the previous year. Information on the vital statistics of the united municipalities before the unification is available from 2003 onwards.

Preliminary statistics of population changes is released quarterly always at the end of the month following the previous quarter. Summary data of monthly population changes an population is released every month three weeks after the end the month. Preliminary population statistics by municipality are available by month. Monthly statistics of population changes by municipality is chargeable statistics and it is released monthly.

5. Accessibility and transparency/clarity of data

Basic population data are available in electronic form by municipality or with larger regional divisions than municipality in Statistics Finland’s free Statistical Database on the internet.

The chargeable information service contains more specified information about the population by sub-area of municipality, for example.

6. Comparability of statistics

Comparable regional vital statistics series are available in StatFin service free from 1987. The tables always indicate which regional division is used.

Vital statistics data on the numbers of births, deaths and marriages contracted are available from 1749 onwards. From 1773 there are data about mothers having given birth by five-year age group and from 1936 about all children born by age of mother. After the statistical revision of 1877 collection of data on deaths was started by one-year age group, which made it possible to begin calculation of accurate mortality and lifetime tables from the 1880s onwards. On account of this statistical revision, annual collection of data on migration and divorces was also started.

The population time series in the free “Väestö” online service begin from the year 1980 or 1987. Vital statistics time series for the whole country is available from 1749.

7. Coherence and consistency/uniformity

Statistics Finland’s other statistics use the data of demographic statistics as basic information on population. Consequently, Statistics Finland’s other statistics correspond to demographic statistics. Statistics of deaths of the cause-of-death statistics differs a little from the statistics of deaths of population statistics, because the waiting time is shorter in death statistics of population statistics.

Source: Deaths 2015. Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Eevi Lappalainen 029 551 3367, info@stat.fi

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma

Updated 14.4.2016

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Deaths [e-publication].
ISSN=1798-2545. 2015, Quality description, deaths 2015 . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 24.10.2017].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/kuol/2015/kuol_2015_2016-04-14_laa_001_en.html