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Quality description, changes in marital status

1. Relevance of statistical information

The main source used when producing Finnish population statistics is the Population Information System, which is maintained by the Population Register Centre and local register offices. 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. 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 Population Information System and the certicate services of the Population Register Centre (21 August 2009/661). Notifications on population changes for the past year are expected by the last day of January of the following year.

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 and Social Statistics unit as the producer of demographic statistics (Statistics Finland’s Rules of Procedure, TK-00-1497-12).

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 31 December are taken into account when compiling statistics on 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.


The divorce statistics are based on data on granted decrees of divorce transmitted to the Population Information System by district courts. The statistics also include cases where a permanent resident of Finland is granted a divorce by a foreign court. If the divorce is granted abroad, it must be reported to the register keeper for registration of divorce. Exceptions are divorces granted to Finnish citizens in Sweden, on which the Swedish register keeper notifies the Finnish counterpart directly.

A divorce granted to a Finnish citizen abroad usually requires validation by the Helsinki Court of Appeal before registration. Divorce decisions given in the Nordic Countries and in the EU countries as of 1 March 2001 can be registered without validation.

As of 1980 ‘divorces’ refer to the divorces of females permanently resident in Finland, unless otherwise indicated.

The amendment to the Marriage Act (411/1987), effective from the first of January 1988, simplified divorce proceedings. Divorce figures began to rise towards the end of 1988, when the first divorces (after a reconsideration period of six months) became effective under the amendment to Marriage Act. The Marriage Act no longer has regulations on "cancellation of marriage". Before the amendment to the act came into force in 1988 these were in separate groups, now among divorces.

The key figures defined below can be calculated for women and men, although they are defined to be calculated for women only.

The age-specific divorce rate indicates the number of divorced women per 1,000 married women of the mean population in the age group in question. The probability of divorce for first marriages is produced by applying multistate life tables. The life tables are based on women's age-group specific marriage, mortality, widowhood and divorce rates in the statistical reference year regardless of the husband's age or whether the marriage is the first one or not for him.

Marital status

The marital status of a person refers to the status according to the Finnish Marriage Code (234/29). It should be noted that cohabiting is not a marital status. People representing all marital status categories may be cohabiting, including those who are still officially married.

Current divorce regulations no longer recognize the concept of legal separation. Those persons who are legally separated on the basis of the old divorce provisions prior to 1 January 1988 and still living apart have been slotted under married persons in the statistics.

The marital status classification is as follows: unmarried, married, divorced, widowed, partner in a registered partnership, dissolved registered partnership, widowed after a registered partnership.


‘Marriages’ refer to marriages contracted by females permanently resident in Finland, unless otherwise indicated. The number of males and females who contracted marriage is not equal because the number of marriages contracted between females permanently resident in Finland and males living permanently abroad differs from the number of marriages contracted between males permanently resident in Finland and females living permanently abroad. The key figure defined below can be calculated for women and men, although it is defined to be calculated for women only.

The age-specific marriage rate indicates the number of married women per 1,000 non-married women and women not in registered partnership of the mean population in the age group in question.

Registered partnership

“Registered partnership” refers to registered partnership of two persons of the same sex aged 18 or over (Act on Registerd Partnerships of 9 Nov. 2001/950). Partnership is registered by an authority entitled to perform civil marriage ceremonies. Registered partnership is dissolved when one partner dies or is declared dead, or when it is dissolved by court order.

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 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. Statistics Finland receives the updated data on 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. 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. Staying in Finland for at least one year is the prerequisite for registering into the population of Finland.

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 2012 survey, the address was correct for 98.9 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 Population Register Centre 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 available 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 population data by municipality are available by month.

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 ‘Population’ online service (Statistical databases) at:

The chargeable information service contains more specified information about the population by sub-area of municipality, for example. More information about Statistics Finland’s chargeable services is available at:

6. Comparability of statistics

Comparable regional vital statistics series are available 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 free 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.

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.

Source: Population and Cause of Death Statistics. Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Timo Nikander 09 1734 3250,

Director in charge: Riitta Harala

Updated 17.4.2014

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Changes in marital status [e-publication].
ISSN=1797-643X. 2013, Quality description, changes in marital status . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 1.10.2023].
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