1. Changes in causes of death 1936 to 2010

In 1936 the number of deaths was 49,124 and in 2010 of a similar size, i.e. 50,910. The number of population in 1936 was considerably lower than now - the population of Finland was 3.6 million, while at the moment it is about 5.4 million. The mortality rate was thus significantly higher as people died younger and child mortality was still quite high.

Figure 1 contains a few causes of death in 1936 and the corresponding figures from 2010. It should be noted that the classifications of causes of death have changed several times over the years and therefore not all cause of death categories can be compared with each other. 1) Figure 1 contains selected cause of death categories that can be compared indicatively.

Figure 1. Mortality from certain causes of death per 100,000 persons of the mean population in 1936 and 2010

Figure 1. Mortality from certain causes of death per 100,000 persons of the mean population in 1936 and 2010

The biggest change in causes of death of the population during 75 years has been the extinction of tuberculosis. At the end of the 1930s, tuberculosis caused as many as 16 per cent of all deaths. In the 2000s, the share of all infectious diseases (tuberculosis being one of them) in all deaths was just close on one per cent. Deaths from diseases of the circulatory system have increased slightly over the same period, from 350 to 380 deaths per 100,000 population. Mortality from neoplasms has increased from around 110 to 220 per 100,000 population. Mortality from diseases of the digestive system has remained more or less at the same level over the decades.

In 1936, as many as 4,500 children died under the age of one, while in 2010 the figure was only 138. The level of mortality from accidents and suicides has not differed significantly from the present one (see also Sections 4, 5 and 6 later in this publication).


1) Statistics on causes of death have been produced since 1749. However, the classifications of causes of death have varied so much over the years that it is not possible to produce reliable time series over this whole time period. A new nomenclature for causes of death was introduced in 1936, and the establishment of causes of death was transferred from parishes to physicians. Because of this renewal, the time series of this publication start from 1936. However, it is not possible to produce a time series from 1936 onwards on some groups of causes of death, because the classifications of diseases have also changed after this. Therefore, data are given on some causes of death starting from 1969. Today all causes of death are reported by a physician, but in 1936 one third of causes of death were based on accounts by relatives or other persons. For this reason, the figures of that time should be taken more as indicative. Data on causes of death on earlier years are available in the statistical publications on Causes of Death, which are digitised and transferred to the Doria database of the National Archive (http://www.doria.fi/handle/10024/67158).

Source: Causes of death, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Marja-Liisa Helminen (09) 1734 3273, Helena Korpi (09) 1734 3605, Irmeli Penttilä (09) 1734 3253, kuolemansyyt@stat.fi

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma


Updated 16.12.2011

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Causes of death [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-5078. 2010, 1. Changes in causes of death 1936 to 2010 . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 15.10.2019].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ksyyt/2010/ksyyt_2010_2011-12-16_kat_002_en.html