Changes in marital status: documentation of statistics
Basic data of the statistics
Unit of measure
In indicators per mil, i.e. the number of vital events or individuals involved in such an event proportioned to the mean population of the part of population susceptible to the event per 1,000 individuals.
The classification into regions and the statistical grouping of municipalities have been used since 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 on changes in marital status have used the regional division which has entered into force at the beginning of the calendar year following the statistical year.
From 2002 to 2017, the statistics also included the registered partnerships which began each year in which at least one of the parties resided permanently in Finland on the date the partnership was confirmed.
The statistics contain several universal details on the individuals whom the aforementioned vital events concern, such as age, marital status and previous marital status, native language, municipality of residence, municipality of birth, country of birth, country of residence, nationality, number of children and the sequence number of the marriage or registered partnership. They also contain data on the date related to each change in marital status, such as the date on which a couple entered into marriage or registered a partnership, or the date on which a marriage or registered partnership ended in divorce. In addition, the statistics include data related to a particular change only, such as the manner in which a marriage was entered into and the date on which a previous marriage was dissolved.
Data on the number of marriages entered into per year are available as of 1749. Data on divorces began to be collected annually following the statistical reform in 1877.
The amendment to the Marriage Act, as of which same-sex couples have married and the registration of partnerships ended, came into force on 1 March 2017. Among other things, the amendment meant that, as of 2017, the total number of annually contracted marriages is composed of marriages in which the couples may be of the opposite sexes or of the same sex. The aforementioned also applies to divorces.
The total number of marriages entered into annually from 1980 to 2016 was composed of marriages in which the wife resided permanently in Finland. Starting from 2017, the total number of opposite-sex marriages contracted also includes marriages entered into where only the husband is permanently residing in Finland at the time the marriage was contracted. When applying the new calculation method it is possible to tabulate comparable numbers of opposite-sex marriages contracted retrospectively starting from 1990. The aforementioned also applies to divorces.
Data on the number of registered partnerships confirmed and divorced from are available from 2002 to 2017. Data on the number of same-sex marriages and divorces are available as of 2017.
Frequency of dissemination
Preliminary data on the numbers of marriages and divorces are released monthly on Statistics Finland’s website under Preliminary population statistics.
In 1980 to 2016, divorces referred to divorces of women living permanently in Finland unless otherwise stated. Starting from the statistical reference year 2017, divorces where at least one of the spouses has resided permanently in Finland on the day the divorce was granted are included in the statistics as divorces. The amendment to the Marriage Act that entered into force on 1 March 2017 enabled same-sex couples to enter into marriage (156/2015). Since 2017, the total number of divorces consists of the number of divorces of marriages between opposite-sex and same-sex couples.
The amendment to the Marriage Act (411/1987), effective from 1 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 new legislation. The Marriage Act no longer has regulations on 'cancellation of marriage' or 'nullification of marriage'. Before the new act came into force in 1988 these were in separate groups, now among divorces.
Languages are classified by the Population Register Centre according to the ISO 639 standard. The future language classification ISO-639-1 was already adopted for the 2000 population census.
The number of marriages contracted annually is, thus, the number of marriages entered into by same-sex and opposite-sex spouses.
In 1980 to 2016, contracted marriages referred to marriages of women living permanently in Finland unless otherwise stated.
As a result of the amendment to the Marriage Act, starting from 1 June 2019, a person under 18 years of age shall not marry in Finland (351/ 2019).
The possibility to register partnerships started in Finland on 1 March 2002 and ended on the last day of February 2017 (Act to amend the Act of Registered Partnerships 250/2016). Starting from the beginning of March 2017, same-sex couples have been able to enter into marriage (156/2015).
As a result of the amendment to the Marriage Act, parties to a partnership registered in Finland can convert their partnership into a marriage by making a joint notification of this to the Digital and Data Services Office. A registered partnership continues as a marriage from the day on which the Digital and Data Services Office has received the notification.
In the statistics, registered partnerships that have been converted into marriages based on such notification are not included as contracted marriages in the annual statistics.
Accuracy, reliability and timeliness
Courts of law enter data on the divorces they grant and on registered partnerships ending in divorce in the Population Information System.
The Population Information System maintained by the Digital and Population Data Services Agency and the State Department of Åland can be regarded as very exhaustive in terms of persons. For an individual to receive a personal identity code, they must be registered in the Population Information System. Living in Finland without a personal identity code is practically impossible. Legal employment, the opening of a bank account, taking care of affairs with the authorities, etc. all require a personal identity code.
Following the discontinuation of census registration as of 1989, the Population Information System has been maintained solely with reports on vital events. The accuracy of these is indicated by the address reliability survey carried out within the Population Information System.
The Population Register Centre has commissioned a sample survey on the accuracy of addresses from Statistics Finland. Approximately 11,000 individuals are contacted and 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.
Comparability - geographical
The definitions of entering into marriage and divorce comply with international recommendations. However, there may be some differences between countries, due to which the definitions must be reviewed before comparison between countries. The age at which marriage can be entered into can differ between countries, for example.
In addition, different countries may have different definitions for compiling statistics on marriages and divorces as having taken place in the country. In one country, for instance, all cases in which both spouses resided in the country permanently when they married or divorced can be included in the statistics. In another country, the definition may be broader, in which case all cases in which at least one of the spouses resided in the country permanently when they married or divorced are included in the statistics.
Comparability - over time
Following an amendment to the Marriage Act, same-sex couples have been permitted to get married and the registration of partnerships was abandoned as of 1 March 2017. This meant that, as of 2017, the total number of annually contracted marriages is composed of marriages in which the couples may be of the opposite sexes or of the same sex. Likewise as of 2017, the total number of divorces consists of divorces in which the spouses may be either of the opposite sexes or the same sex.
The total number of marriages or divorces annually from 1980 to 2016 was composed of marriages or divorces in which at least the wife resided permanently in Finland. As of 2017, the total number of marriages or divorces by couples of opposite sex have also included those in which only the husband resides permanently in Finland at the time the marriage is entered into or the divorce is granted. By applying the new computing method, it is nevertheless possible to retroactively tabulate comparable numbers of marriages entered into or divorces by opposite-sex couples as of 1990.
When tabulating data on changes in marital status by area, such as by municipality, cases in which the couple resides permanently in Finland, but the spouses’ or partners’ municipalities of residence at the time of the event are not the same, the municipality of residence selected in a vital event between opposite sexes is the woman’s, and in a vital event between a same-sex couple, the younger spouse’s or partner’s municipality of residence. The principle of the procedure is the same as before. In other cases, the municipality of residence selected is that of the spouse or partner who resides permanently in Finland.
Data on the number of registered partnerships confirmed and divorced from are available from 2002 to 2017 and from 2002, respectively. Data on the number of same-sex marriages and divorces are available as of 2017.
Coherence - cross domain
Coherence - internal
The final statistics depart from the preliminary statistics mainly in that the data in the final statistics are reviewed in more detail than those in the preliminary statistics and in that the final statistics contain more variables describing the phenomenon.
Source data and data collections
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.
Frequency of data collection
The data include underlying variables from which data may be missing.
Insofar as possible, the data are filled in using population data and the Population Information System.
Cases are not imputed.
The data are checked for double rows.
The data are checked for cases which would have been included in the data of previous years.
The direct distributions of variables are verified and the values of variables are examined to check whether they accord with classifications.
Missing cases are investigated. Data are searched for in other population data sets and ultimately in the direct access service of the Population Information System.
The logic of variables is checked by cross-tabulation.
Principles and outlines
Contact organisation unit
Legal acts and other agreements
The compilation of statistics is guided by the Statistics Act. The Statistics Act contains provisions on collection of data, processing of data and the obligation to provide data. Besides the Statistics Act, the Data Protection Act and the Act on the Openness of Government Activities are applied to processing of data when producing statistics.
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
Confidentiality - policy
The data protection of data collected for statistical purposes is guaranteed in accordance with the requirements of the Statistics Act (280/2004), the Act on the Openness of Government Activities (621/1999), the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 and the Data Protection Act (1050/2018). The data materials are protected at all stages of processing with the necessary physical and technical solutions. Statistics Finland has compiled detailed directions and instructions for confidential processing of the data. Employees have access only to the data essential for their duties. The premises where unit-level data are processed are not accessible to outsiders. Members of the personnel have signed a pledge of secrecy upon entering the service. Violation of data protection is punishable.
Further information: Data protection | Statistics Finland (stat.fi)
Confidentiality - data treatment
According to the Statistics Act, data released for research use must be edited into a form from which statistical units cannot be identified directly or indirectly. 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 a sample 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 hiding the variable values of a single unit.
Statistics Finland publishes new statistical data at 8 am on weekdays in its web service. The release times of statistics are given in advance in the release calendar available in the web service. The data are public after they have been updated in the web service.
Further information: Publication principles for statistics at Statistics Finland
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.
Data on marriages entered into and of divorces are delivered to Eurostat, responsible for compiling the EU’s demographic statistics, in accordance with the relevant EU Regulation 1260/2013. Data to the UN is transmitted in the same delivery.
Regulation (EC) No 1260/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council defines the data and metadata to be submitted to the Commission (Eurostat). The due dates for submission are determined in the Regulation. The data delivered on marriages include the following: the age, date of birth, previous marital status, sex, nationality (country) and country of birth of couples who have married. The data delivered on divorces include the following: the duration of the marriage, the year the couple married and the nationality and country of birth of the spouses. The aforementioned data are also delivered to the UN’s Statistics Division, the OECD and the Nordic Council.
Accessibility and clarity
Statistical data are published as database tables in the StatFin database. The database is the primary publishing site of data, and new data are updated first there. When releasing statistical data, existing database tables can be updated with new data or completely new database tables can be published.
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.
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.
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 frameworks complement each other. The quality criteria of Official Statistics of Finland are also compatible with the European Statistics Code of Practice.
Further information: Quality management | Statistics Finland (stat.fi)
Data are released to all users at the same time. Statistical data may only be handled at Statistics Finland and information on them may be given before release only by persons involved in the production of the statistics concerned or who need the data of the statistics concerned in their own work before the data are published.
Further information: Publication principles for statistics
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