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Life expectancy for Finnish boys sinks for the first time since 1971

New figures show that Finnish boys born in 2016 are expected to live 78.4 years, about one month less than boys born in 2015. This is the first time male life expectancy has fallen since 1971. Compared with other Nordic countries, Finns are the fattest and the most anxious, but they drink less than the Danes and have the fewest number of abortions.

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Image: AOP

According to figures released on Friday, life expectancy for Finnish boys born in 2016 was 78.4 years and for girls 84.1 years. While life expectancy for girls remained unchanged from 2015, this was the first time that it fell – by 0.1 years or about 36 days – for boys since 1971 when statistics started.

However, a drop in life expectancy is not uncommon, says Katariina Heikkilä from Statistics Finland as the level of mortality has an effect on life expectancy.

"For example, an influenza epidemic at the start and the end of the same year increases mortality during that year," Heikkilä says.

It is more important to look at the long-term development, which shows that life expectancy in Finland has risen by 13 years for boys and 10 years for girls since 1971, she adds.

Swedish speakers live longer

Compared with their Finnish-speaking peers, boys who speak Swedish as their mother tongue live more than two years longer and on average reach the age of 80.8 years. Among girls, the difference in mother tongue does not play such a large role, with Finnish-speaking girls on average dying 11 months earlier than their Swedish-speaking counterparts.

Geographically, the longest living Finns inhabit the Western parts of the country, Ostrobothnia in particular, where boys and girls born in 2016 live to be 80.4 and 85.5 years, respectively. In contrast, the shortest life expectancy faces boys in Southern Savo and girls in Northern Karelia.

In terms of life expectancy, girls in Finland have caught up with Sweden and Norway, but Finnish boys still live approximately two years less than their Swedish and Norwegian peers.

Finns are fat and anxious but have the fewest STDs

In a related report, Finns fare moderately poorly against their neighbours in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland in terms of health. Statistics from the National Institute for Health and Welfare released on Wednesday show that Finland has the largest number of overweight people in the Nordic countries. About 19 percent of Finnish men and women have a Body Mass Index of more than 30.

On a more positive note, Finland has the lowest number of abortions (0.29 per live births) and the fewest number of reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Then again, Finns and Icelanders are more likely to take medication against anxiety, and Finnish men commit more suicides than men in other Nordic countries. Surprisingly, Finns take the least amount of antidepressants, where Iceland tops the list. On the other hand, the use of prescription drugs for diabetes, heart disease and erectile dysfunction is more common among Finns.

Finland's population sinks

Sadly, Finland is the only Nordic country where more people die than are born. On average, each woman in Finland has 1.57 children - significantly lower than in other Nordic countries, where women on average have 1.71 - 1.85 children.

Finland also does not benefit from large-scale immigration, which has helped to keep population growth in Scandinavia at a fairly sturdy level. Compared with its neighbours, Finland has the lowest net immigration rate of 3 persons per 1,000 habitants, the report says.

However, the remaining Finns will not be as intoxicated as previous generations as figures show that the use of alcohol has fallen in the past five years. Among the Nordic countries, the Danes drink the most.

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