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Quality description, migration

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. 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 Population Information Act (11 June 1993/507).

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-00-1443-08).

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.

Internal migration

Those changing place of domicile are expected within one week of the move to report on the change of address, specifying all family members involved in the move. The notice is delivered to the register office of the new place of residence. The move is indicated as either a permanent or a temporary one, and once the register office receives the notice, the register office determines whether the nature of the move involves a permanent or temporary change of domicile. Since 1 June 1994, when the Act on the Municipality of Domicile (201/1994) came into effect, students moving due to their studies have had the right to register themselves as permanent residents in the municipality in which they study. Data on the change of dwelling and place of domicile are transferred in machine-language format to the Population Information System. The register office of the new place of residence sends the data on the new place of domicile to the register office of the former place of residence. (Population Data Act 507/1993 and amendment 202/1994; Act on the Municipality of Domicile 201/1994; Decree on the Municipality of Domicile 351/1994)

The effect of annexations has not been taken into account in the statistics on the volume of migration in the years of 1990-99 because combined figures for the annexed municipalities are given as the figures for the annexed municipality in the years prior to the year of annexation. The effect of the change in the statistical period is illustrated below in connection with the description of the intra-municipal migration concept.

The propensity for internal migration, or the rate of internal migration, refers to the number of migrants per 1,000 of the mean population in the area of departure. The propensity for internal migration indicates the migrants per 1,000 of the mean population in the age group in question.

Intramunicipal migration

Statistics Finland receives information on the changes in place of residence that involve a permanent change of domicile. These changes in domicile are classified at Statistics Finland into intramunicipal moves and intermunicipal moves. Intramunicipal moves consist of moves from one dwelling to another within the same municipality, with moves from one building or house to another forming a separate sub-category. Intramunicipal statistics dating to 1986 and earlier cover only moves from one building or house to another within the same municipality.

Until 1993, the concept of intramunicipal migration consisted of moves from one household-dwelling unit to another within the same municipality. Since 1994, intramunicipal moves from institutional household-dwelling units to private household-dwelling units and vice versa have been included in the data. Moves from a situation where there is no permanent dwelling to private household-dwellings and vice versa have been classified as intramunicipal migration since 1994. This change in the concept has resulted in an increase of about 6 per cent in the intramunicipal migration data.

When the data for 1993 were produced, the statistical period was also changed from the period of 2 January to 1 January into 1 January to 31 December because of the corresponding change in the Population Information System. In the transition year the statistical period fell one day short of one year (the effect being 11,000 cases of intramunicipal migration and 4,500 cases of intermunicipal migration).

The coming into force of the Act on the Municipality of Domicile has somewhat increased the volume of intramunicipal and intermunicipal migration in 1994 and after that.

Immigration and emigration

Persons who have moved to Finland and who intend to reside or have resided in Finland for twelve months without interruption must notify the register office of their move (Population Data Act 507/1993). If a person intends to live permanently in Finland and has a valid residence permit for at least twelve months, the place of domicile is generally determined according to the same principles as with Finnish nationals (Act on the Municipality of Domicile 201/1994). The register office then enters these data to the Population Information System.

Those emigrating to a place of domicile abroad must supply a notice of change of address just as those who migrate within the country have to do (Statute on the Municipality of Domicile 351/1994). Those who move to a domicile abroad for more than twelve months are primarily classed as emigrants. An exception to this are Finnish nationals working as diplomats and those involved in development co-operation, etc. (Act on the Municipality of Domicile 201/1994). In accordance with an agreement between the Nordic countries, a period of temporary residence of less than six months is not construed as a move (On the Entry into Force of the Agreement Relating to the Population Registers in the Nordic countries 851/1990, Agreement Series 49 and Statute on the Municipality of Domicile 351/1994).

When a person migrates from one Nordic country to another, the local population register of the country of exit must provide the migrant with a Nordic Certification of Notice of Departure to be delivered to the local population register of the country of arrival (Decree on the Municipality of Domicile 351/1994, 851/1990, Agreement Series 49). The local population register authority of the country of arrival returns the certification to the register centre of the country of departure. The day on which the migrant is entered into the local population register of the country of arrival is recorded as the date of move.

2. Methodological description of survey

Each parish in the Evangelical-Lutheran and Greek Orthodox churches maintains a population register; in addition, the register office of each jurisdictional district maintains a register of the members of other religious bodies and of those with no religious affiliations. Data recorded in the population registers of the jurisdictional districts and parishes are transferred daily to Population Register Centre to be updated in 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 yearly 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 2007 survey, the address was correct for 98.8 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 May to June, 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 population data by municipality are available by month. In addition, the publication Quarterly Population Statistics containing preliminary data is released always at the end of the month following the previous quarter.

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.

The Altika statistical service also includes municipality-specific population data from 1975 onwards.

6. Comparability of statistics

Comparable regional vital statistics series are available 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.

Compilation of statistics on immigrants based on lists of passports began in 1900 and continued until 1984. From 1945 there are data on the total volume of migration between Finland and foreign countries derived from statistical materials of other countries. The migration statistics between the Nordic Countries improved in 1969, when the so-called Inter-Nordic Migration Form was introduced. Production of statistics on migration outside the Nordic Countries improved further in 1985, when the obligation to notify was extended to emigrants.

Population data by municipality are available in electronic form in the Altika information service from 1975 onwards. 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.

Source: Population and Cause of Death Statistics. Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Matti Saari (09) 1734 3401,

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma

Updated 20.5.2009

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Migration [e-publication].
ISSN=1797-6782. 2008, Quality description, migration . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 20.6.2024].
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