First study of Years of Good Life in Finland


The Finnish Yearbook of Population Research Vol. 54 has been published.

Finland has the world’s longest annual demographic time series starting from almost in the beginning of the 18th century. A study by Claudia Reiter and Wolfgang Lutz, Founding Director of the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital, published in the Finnish Yearbook of Population Research apply the recently developed wellbeing indicator “Years of Good Life” (YoGL) to Finland combining historical time series with future scenarios. The paper uses also a large number of sources to find out a first rough estimation of how quality of life has changed in Finland over the centuries.

Along with a long demographic time series, Finland has a particularly interesting story of increasing quality of life. Up to the 19th century, Finland was one of the poorest countries of the Europe, but only 150 year later, it is ranked one of the happiest and safest country in the world with an advanced educational system.

Results show that wellbeing as measured in Years of Good Life has significantly increased over the observation period from 1860 to 2015. While in 1860 the average Finnish newborn could expect to live hardly half of her expected life years as good years, this proportion has increased to more than 90 percent in 2015.

A steady increase of YoGL happened in the second half of the 20th century, comparable to increases in life expectancy. The most rapid increase in wellbeing happened between the years 1944 and 1984, where YoGL more than doubled. A Finnish person expectation to live in wellbeing is much bigger today than it was 150 years ago. When trying to interpret the results, it is good to remember that results may significantly differ among different subpopulations, like men and women, age groups or education level.

The 54th Volume of the Finnish Yearbook of Population Research also addresses a question why fertility keeps declining in Finland also after the end of the economic crisis. Fertility decline now includes women in almost all age and educational groups in the country, and has continued long enough to also indicate a dramatic decrease in completed fertility. Heikki Hiilamo’s article discusses the limitations of current mainstream fertility theories.

The Yearbook also studies birth order and relationship quality between adult children and parents. Some have predicted that middleborn children should have a worse relationship quality with their parents compared to other siblings. Researchers Antti Tanskanen and Mirkka Danielsbacka tested this hypothesis using a large-scale, population based sample of younger adults from Germany and did not find convincing support for the neglected middleborn effect.

All articles of the Yearbook are now available online

The Finnish Yearbook of Population Research has been published since 1946. Initially, the journal was published in Finnish, but from 1969 it started publishing in English. Since 2014 the Yearbook has been published online via the service provided by the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies.

The ditization of older articles was made possible through grant awarded by Kone Foundation, and gradually journal has moved to open publishing for new and old articles. From today, all articles of the Yearbook from the year 1946 can be found online for free.

"Getting articles open to the public opens up a great opportunity to get to know the history of Finnish population research," says Anna Rotkirch, editor-in-chief from the Family Federation of Finland.

More information:

Hans Hämäläinen, Guest editor

Anna Rotkirch, Editor-in-chief
tel. +358 40 776 3086, anna.rotkirch(at)

Finnish Yearbook of Population Research, Volume 54 (2019)

The Finnish Yearbook of Population Research is a peer reviewed, open access journal. It deals with a wide range of global demographic issues as well as current population trends in Finland, Scandinavia, the Baltic countries, and other parts of Europe. FYPR is published by the Population Research Institute of The Family Federation of Finland (Väestöliitto) in collaboration with The Migration Institute of Finland and The Finnish Demographic Society.