Population growth in Helsinki mainly due to migration – fertility is low

Between 2012 and 2016, Helsinki’s population grew by almost 39,800 inhabitants. The increase came from positive net migration based on in-migration from both abroad (surplus 1,817 in 2016) and other parts of Finland than the Uusimaa province (5,419). Although quite a few move from Helsinki to the other municipalities in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, there is now also more migration from other parts of Finland to Helsinki than earlier in the 2000s. These figures are drawn from a recent statistics publication from Helsinki City Executive Office.

The intensity of migration is illustrated by the fact that the number of Helsinki residents with another mother tongue than Finnish, Swedish or Sami had reached 93,200 by the end of 2016, making up 14.7 per cent of the city’s population. When calculated as the proportion of people with a foreign background, the immigrant population of Helsinki was 14.9 per cent, with their numbers having grown rapidly since 2005.

Of those moving to Helsinki, a clear majority are young adults, usually unmarried. Those moving away from Helsinki are generally older than the in-migrants. Earlier, the out-migrants were considerably higher educated than the in-migrants, primarily because the in-migrants were younger and often came to Helsinki to study. During the last few years, however, this difference of educational level has decreased.

2016 saw 6,803 births in Helsinki, which was very close to the annual average for the five-year period 2012-2016. In Helsinki, the total fertility rate of women was 1.25 children in 2016, as compared with 1.65 children in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area or 1.57 in Finland as a whole – thus clearly lower in Helsinki. Although the number of births has stayed fairly stable, the fertility rate has decreased as the population has grown in the 2010s. In Helsinki, however, fertility has fallen less than in its neighbouring municipalities and Finland as a whole. A growing proportion – over one-fifth – of mothers giving birth in Helsinki had a foreign mother tongue.

Increasing life expectancy in Helsinki – closer to the Finnish average

In 2016, the life expectancy of a new-born baby in Helsinki was 78.2 years for boys and 83.8 years for girls. In the last few years, life expectancy has been only slightly lower in Helsinki than in Finland on average. Over the last 40 years, it has increased by 9.3 years in Helsinki. In the last 10 years, mortality has fallen, and life expectancy has increased by 2.2 years.

The marital-status structure of Helsinki’s population still differs from that of both the neighbouring municipalities and the whole country. The proportion of married is clearly smaller in Helsinki. Instead, the proportion of one-person households and single dwellers is larger in Helsinki, although both shares have decreased in Helsinki. In 2016, the number of marriages concluded in Helsinki was 3,601. Over the last 25 years, marriage rates have decreased most strongly under the age of 30 among both women and men. Divorce rates are slightly higher in Helsinki than in nearby municipalities and clearly higher than in Finland as a whole. People tend to divorce at a higher age, which is partly explained by their marrying at a higher age.

The new publication on population changes in Helsinki contains vital statistics on population, population structure, births, deaths, migration, marriages and divorces. The figures are based on data from Statistics Finland.


Netta Mäki & Pekka Vuori: Väestönmuutokset Helsingissä 2012–2016. Helsinki City Executive Office, Statistics 2018:8, pdf-publication.


Senior Statistician Netta Mäki, +358 40 334 4765, netta.maki(at)hel.fi
System Manager Pekka Vuori, +358 40 334 4790, pekka.vuori(at)hel.fi