Migration: documentation of statistics
Basic data of the statistics
In migration statistics, data are compiled by the migrants’ age, gender, marital status, native language, nationality, country of birth, municipality of birth, and region of arrival and departure. The data describe the situation on the day of the move. Data are available on the country of departure and arrival in terms of immigration and emigration, and on the municipality of departure and arrival in terms of internal migration. The statistics provide data on migration between different areas, such as between regions and between sub-regional units.
Unit of measure
The propensity for migration indicates the mean population corresponding to the number of migrants per 1,000 people.
The classifications of region and the statistical grouping of municipalities have been used as of 1997. Prior to this, provinces were used instead of regions and forms of local government instead of the statistical grouping of municipalities. As of 1999, the statistics have used the regional division which entered into force at the beginning of the calendar year following the statistical year.
Immigration into Finland from abroad is included in population statistics if the place of residence reported by a person in a move notification as their permanent place of domicile is approved by a local register office. Emigrations are included in the statistics if the person has had a permanent place of residence in Finland prior to the move. The statistics on intramunicipal migration include moves in which a permanent place of residence changes within a municipality.
In terms of their coverage, the statistics on migration accord with international recommendations.
Historical population statistics have also been digitised; these are available as PDF files through the National Library of Finland’s Doria service. Statistics on municipal migration according to the area of departure and arrival, with the most recent regional division, are available from 1974. Data on intramunicipal migration are available from 1990 onwards. Data on international migration, according to the area entered or departed, are available from 1981 onwards. Data on the total numbers of immigration and emigration covering the entire country are available from 1945, and municipality-specific statistics on the total number of international migration are available from 1975 onwards.
Frequency of dissemination
Preliminary data on migration are published monthly on the page Preliminary population statistics. Municipality-specific data on migration are published every three months in the Preliminary population statistics and monthly in the population statistics service, which is subject to a charge. Preliminary data concerning previous months during a statistical reference year are revised monthly, in connection with the latest release.
Accuracy, reliability and timeliness
Following the discontinuation of census registration as of 1989, the Population Information System has been maintained solely with reports on population changes. The Digital and Population Data Services Agency has commissioned sample surveys on the accuracy of addresses from Statistics Finland. The survey contacts approximately 11,000 individuals to inquire whether their address in the Population Information System is accurate. In the latest survey, in 2012, the address of 98.9 per cent of the respondents was correct.
Inaccurate addresses impact municipality-specific migration data only if the inaccurate address is in a municipality other than the accurate address. Only some of the inaccurate addresses are in a wrong municipality.
The statistics on migration are almost invariably released on the target date, due to which there has been no time delay. If the release of statistical data is significantly delayed from the announced point of time, information about the delay is posted on the statistics’ home page.
Comparability - geographical
The regional concepts and definitions of the statistics on migration comply with international recommendations. This improves the migration data’s international comparability.
The consistency of the statistics between countries has been studied in the Nordic countries with the Mirror analysis, which includes a comparison of the statistical authorities’ data on migration between the countries. In recent years, differences between the migration figures of the Nordic countries have increased slightly.
Despite international recommendations, the time for which a person must reside in a country before being included in its population varies in the statistical systems of some countries. This is why it is difficult to compare countries’ statistics on international migration with each other.
Comparability - over time
The definitions of the statistics on international migration accord with the international recommendations. In Finland, the statistics have been produced according to the recommendations since the 1970s. This increases the statistics’ temporal comparability.
The statistics on internal migration are primarily comparable between the statistical reference years. However, there is a break in the time series between 1993 and 1994, when the entry into force of the Municipality of Residence Act resulted in changes in the internal migration figures. Internal migration grew for a period of about five years, partly due to changes in the way in which the statistics on students’ moves were compiled.
The database tables of the statistics on migration do not account for age structure’s impact on the number of migrations or propensity for migration. Age standardisation allows for improving the comparability of migration figures in a long time series or in the comparison of areas with differing age structures.
Coherence - cross domain
The definitions of the statistics on migration accord with the international recommendations. The statistics on migration are largely coherent with the statistics produced by the statistical offices of other countries as long as the statistical authority of a country complies with the international recommendations in their corresponding statistics.
The preliminary and final migration data compiled by the statistical authorities may contain minor quantitative differences. Various organisations have commissioned data on population changes from the Population Information System and produce monthly migration data on the basis of these data. The figures depart from the monthly preliminary data of Statistics Finland. The difference is attributable to different processing methods and to the organisations producing the data tabulating the data of the registration situation when a month changes into the next, whereas Statistics Finland waits for notifications on vital events for a week and a half after the end of a month before producing preliminary statistics on the previous month’s situation.
The final statistics on international migration do not generally suffer from incoherence problems in respect of the data compiled by the statistics offices of EU countries, given that Eurostat requires the international comparability of migration data and definitions from the Member States. Statistics Finland is the sole authority producing statistics on migration in Finland. The Finnish Immigration Service produces statistics on third-country nationals being granted residence permits in Finland. In terms of their quantity, the data are fairly similar to the data in Statistics Finland’s statistics on the migration of third-country nationals who have moved to Finland.
Coherence - internal
Source data and data collections
The last population registration in Finland was carried on 1 January 1989. After this, the Population Information System has been updated on the basis of change notifications. The data stored in the Population Information System are specified in the Act (21 August 2009/661) on the Population Information System and the certificate services of the Digital and Population Data Services Agency. Notifications on population changes for the ended year are awaited up to the last day of January of the following year.
The Population Register Centre has commissioned sample surveys on the accuracy of addresses from Statistics Finland, in which some 11,000 individuals are inquired whether their address in the Population Information System is accurate. In the latest survey, in 2012, the address of 98.9 per cent of the respondents was accurate.
In connection with municipal elections, returned notifications of voting sent to foreigners usually reveal around 1000 persons who have moved from the country without giving notice and are thus still included in the Finnish population. The Digital and Population Data Services Agency removes these individuals from the Population Information System’s population residing in Finland before the next turn of the year.
Frequency of data collection
The final annual statistics on migration are based on the weekly data compiled during the statistical reference year and during January of the following year.
The validation measures mentioned in Section 18.4 interact with the measures correcting any observed data deficiencies and inaccuracies. The corrections are made to the data preceding the latest data, after which the latest data are produced again. Following this, the data are again validated and, in the event of any deficiencies, the latest data are modified again. The process is continued until the inaccuracies and deficiencies have been corrected.
There is slight under-coverage in the emigration data received through the Population Information System, given that some individuals emigrating from Finland do not submit a notification concerning their emigration. Because of this, Statistics Finland annually removes any individuals of whom there are no signs of life or information of such individuals residing permanently in Finland in recent years from the data on population structure received from the Population Information System. Emigration has been generated for a majority of the individuals removed from the population structure of the most recent statistical reference year. Such emigrations have annually accounted for a little more than a per cent, on average, of the entire amount of emigration. The individual’s details in the population data at the end of the year are imported to the generated emigration.
• Checking the data for double rows (more than one moves during a week to the same place of residence).
• Verifying the direct distributions of variables.
• Testing the frequency and checking whether the values accord with the classifications.
• Checking the logic of variables by cross-tabulation.
• Investigating whether any missing cases are really missing and whether the matter can be clarified with the help of some other population statistics or, ultimately, the Population Information System’s direct access service.
• Investigating whether any extra cases are really extras and whether the matter can be clarified with the help of some other population statistics or, ultimately, the Population Information System’s direct access service.
• Verifying that the key variables do not include unknown values any more than is defined as permitted.
• Checking that a person marked as an internal migrant is, in their first move, a resident of the country at the beginning of the year.
• Checking that a person marked as an immigrant is not, in their first move, a resident of the country at the beginning of the year.
• Checking that a person marked as an emigrant is not, in their last move, a resident of the country at the end of the year.
• The possible imputation of the values of background variables to a slight extent with the help of other data in the same data group.
Principles and outlines
Contact organisation unit
Legal acts and other agreements
Statistics Finland compiles statistics in line with the EU’s regulations applicable to statistics, which steer the statistical agencies of all EU Member States.
Further information: Statistical legislation
Only the necessary data that are not available from administrative data sources are collected from data suppliers. Statistics Finland is tasked with compiling statistics that describe societal conditions (Statistics Finland Act (48/1992)).
The statistics are compiled according to the municipality of residence pursuant to the Municipality of Residence Act (201/1994) and the permanent residence in that municipality.
The data recorded in the Population Information System are defined by the Act on the Population Information System and the Certification Services of the Digital and Population Data Services Agency (661/2009). Foreign nationals’ rights of residence are defined in the Aliens Act (301/2004). Statistics Finland and the Digital and Population Data Services Agency have made an agreement on the delivery of the relevant data.
Confidentiality - policy
Further information: Data protection | Statistics Finland (stat.fi)
Confidentiality - data treatment
The data released on the statistics on migration describe moves, not the individuals who move. Furthermore, the released statistics include solely aggregated data, rather than data on an individual level.
In accordance with data protection practices, regional migration data comply with aggregation rules if a table includes variables defined as sensitive. In such cases, figures remaining below the limit value are not reported or divided into the classes of the sensitive variable.
According to the Statistics Act, data disclosed for research purposes is rendered into a form from which the statistical units cannot be directly or indirectly identified. To prevent indirect identification, variables key to identification must be modified with statistical data protection methods suitable for the situation.
The most important data protection method is the disclosure of sample data rather than the total data. In addition to samples, the data limiting methods used by Statistics Finland include aggregating the classification of variables, removing variables and suppressing the variable values of a single unit.
Further information: Publication principles for statistics at Statistics Finland
Statistics Finland’s release calendar lists in advance all the statistical data and publications to be released over the year. Statistical releases can be found under statistics-specific releases. The calendar is updated on weekdays. Statistics Finland’s release calendar for the coming year is published every year in December.
The data on migration are available after their release in the StatFin statistical database. The data become public after they have been updated on the relevant websites.
Data from the statistics on migration are delivered annually to Eurostat, the UN and the Nordic Statistics database.
Accessibility and clarity
In addition to statistical data published in the StatFin database, a release on the key data is usually published in the web service. If the release contains data concerning several reference periods (e.g. monthly and annual data), a review bringing together these data is published in the web service. Database tables updated at the time of publication are listed both in the release and in the review. In some cases, statistical data can also be published as mere database releases in the StatFin database. No release or review is published in connection with these database releases.
Releases and database tables are published in three languages, in Finnish, Swedish and English. The language versions of releases may have more limited content than in Finnish.
Information about changes in the publication schedules of releases and database tables and about corrections are given as change releases in the web service.
General information and long time series on the entire country’s migration are available on the website of the statistics on migration.
Migration statistics since 1880 have been digitised into PDF files in the Doria service of the National Library of Finland.
Population structure and vital events publications (including migration) as well as census publications are available in Doria.
The population statistics service provides more detailed data on migration by socio-economic group, for instance, and by municipal sub-area. This service is subject to a charge. Further information on the service can be found on the website of the population statistics service (in Finnish).
Data revision - policy
Revisions – i.e. improvements in the accuracy of statistical data already published – are a normal feature of statistical production and result in improved quality of statistics. The principle is that statistical data are based on the best available data and information concerning the statistical phenomenon. On the other hand, the revisions are communicated as transparently as possible in advance. Advance communication ensures that the users can prepare for the data revisions.
The reason why data in statistical releases become revised is often caused by the data becoming supplemented. Then the new, revised statistical figure is based on a wider information basis and describes the phenomenon more accurately than before.
Revisions of statistical data may also be caused by the calculation method used, such as annual benchmarking or updating of weight structures. Changes of base years and used classifications may also cause revisions to data.
The statistics on migration have not been thoroughly audited.
A point of reference for the statistics on migration is provided by the statistics on population structure, to whose population increases the number of moves are compared. This contributes to an improvement in the quality of the statistics on migration.
Quality management requires comprehensive guidance of activities. The quality management framework of the field of statistics is the European Statistics Code of Practice (CoP). The quality criteria of Official Statistics of Finland are compatible with the European Statistics Code of Practice.
Further information: Quality management | Statistics Finland (stat.fi)
Further information: Publication principles for statistics
Further information on exceptional releases, for example, is available on the web page Publication principles for statistics at Statistics Finland.
Are you looking for previously published documentation?
The documentation released before 5.4.2022 can be found on the archive pages of the statistics.Go to the archive page