Published: 10 December 2014

Number of persons with foreign background exceeded 300,000

According to Statistics Finland, there were 301,524 persons with foreign background living in Finland at the end of 2013, which was 5.5 per cent of the entire population. There were 256,241 persons of first generation with foreign background, i.e. born abroad, and 45,283 persons of second generation with foreign background, i.e. born in Finland.

Population with foreign background in 1990–2013

Population with foreign background in 1990–2013

Examined by continent, 59 per cent of all persons with foreign background were of European background. The share of persons with Asian background was 24 per cent and that of persons with African background was 12 per cent.

The clearly largest group of persons with foreign background was those whose background country was Russia or the former Soviet Union. There were 74,202 such persons at the end of 2013, representing one-quarter of all persons with foreign background. The next biggest groups were people of Estonian background, 40,990, of Somalian background, 15,723, and of Iraqi background, 11,942.

Persons with foreign background are notably younger than the rest of the population

The age structure of persons with foreign background differs clearly from persons with Finnish background. The share of people of working age (aged 15 to 64) among persons with Finnish background was 63 per cent. Among persons with foreign background, the share of people of working age was 76 per cent and among first generation with foreign background the share was 86 per cent.

Of persons with foreign background, 5 per cent were of retirement age (aged 65 or over), while 20 per cent of persons with Finnish background were of retirement age. Of those with foreign background, 18 per cent were children aged between 0 and 14, while the corresponding share for persons of Finnish background was 16 per cent.

Population with foreign background by age, 2013

 Population with foreign background by age, 2013

The age structure of persons of first and second generation with foreign background also differ considerably from one another. Among persons of first generation with foreign background, persons aged between 25 and 34 stand out as a clearly larger age group than others. Persons of second generation with foreign background are still young, nearly one-half of them were still under school age, i.e. aged 0 to 6, in 2013. Among second generation with foreign background, 93 per cent were aged under 30.

Gender distribution varies by background country

At the end of 2013, altogether 153,007 of persons with foreign background were men and 148,517 were women, so there were 4,490 more men than women. The share of men among persons with foreign background was 51 per cent and it has been slowly growing during the 2000s. At the end of 2013, the share of men among persons with Finnish background was 49 per cent as was in the entire population of Finland.

Examined by background country, the differences in gender distribution between background country groups living in Finland are considerable. The share of men was highest among those with British background, of whom 80 per cent were men. The share of men was next highest among those with Nigerian, Nepali and Pakistani background.

As many as 85 per cent of those with Thai background were women and 71 per cent of those with Filipino background were women. Among the largest background country groups, the female majority also prevailed, for example, among those with Russian, Chinese and Vietnamese background.

Share of foreign citizens low in Finland

There were 207,511 foreign citizens in Finland in 2013. Even though the relative increase in foreign citizens has been large over the past twenty years, the relative share of foreign citizens in Finland is still low by international comparison. Foreign citizens accounted for 3.8 per cent of the entire population in 2013.

Among current EU countries, that is the EU 27 countries, the average share of foreign citizens was 6.8 per cent of the population in 2012, which is the latest year for which data are available. At 3.6 per cent, the Finnish figure was the seventh lowest in an EU 27 countries comparison. Among old EU countries (EU 15 countries), Finland has the lowest share of foreign citizens; among all EU countries, Hungary, Slovakia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and Poland have a lower share of foreign citizens than Finland.

Share of foreign citizens in EU 27 countries (%) in 2012

Share of foreign citizens in EU 27 countries (%) in 2012
Source: Eurostat. The share of foreign citizens also contains persons whose nationality is recorded as unknown.

Many persons with foreign background receive Finnish citizenship after having lived in the country for years. Among persons with foreign background, 33 per cent were Finnish citizens in 2013.

In 2013, Finland's migration gain was record high, as 18,048 more persons moved to the country than left it. A majority of net migration consisted of migrants born in EU countries.

These and other data can be found in Statistics Finland’s newly published Population with foreign background 2013 publication. The publication contains data on the population with foreign background and international migration in the past years. In addition, the publication examines the employment of the population with foreign background. The population is examined based on citizenship, country of birth, language and origin.


Source: Population Structure 2013, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Marja-Liisa Helminen 029 551 3273, vaesto.tilasto@stat.fi

Director in charge: Riitta Harala

Publication in pdf-format (349.4 kB)

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Updated 10.12.2014

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Population structure [e-publication].
ISSN=1797-5395. Annual review 2013. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 17.12.2017].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/vaerak/2013/02/vaerak_2013_02_2014-12-10_tie_001_en.html

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