Journal Article

Home and away: mortality among Finnish-born migrants in Sweden compared to native Swedes and Finns residing in Finland

Östergren, O., Korhonen, K., Gustafsson, N.-K., Martikainen, P.
European Journal of Public Health, 31:2, 321–325 (2021)
Open Access


Most first-generation migrants have lower mortality compared to the native population. Finnish-born migrants in Sweden instead have higher mortality; possibly because of health behaviours established before migration. To increase our understanding of this excess mortality, we compared the cause-specific mortality of Finnish migrants in Sweden to both the native population of Sweden and the native Finnish population residing in Finland.
We used Swedish and Finnish register data, applying propensity score matching techniques to account for differences in sociodemographic characteristics between the migrants, Swedes and Finns. The index population were Finnish migrants aged 40–60, residing in Sweden in 1995. We compared patterns of all-cause, alcohol- and smoking-related, and cardiovascular disease mortality across the groups in the period 1996–2007.
Finnish migrant men in Sweden had lower all-cause mortality compared to Finnish men but higher mortality compared to the Swedish men. The same patterns were observed for alcohol-related, smoking-related and cardiovascular disease mortality. Among women, all three groups had similar levels of all-cause mortality. However, Finnish migrant women had higher alcohol-related mortality than Swedish women, similar to Finnish women. Conversely, migrant women had similar levels of smoking-related mortality to Swedish women, lower than Finnish women.
Finnish-born migrants residing in Sweden have mortality patterns that are typically in between the mortality patterns of the native populations in their country of origin and destination. Both the country of origin and destination need to be considered in order to better understand migrant health.

The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.