About the statistics


Name and topic

Name: Deaths
Topic: Population

Responsible division

Division for Population Statistics

Definitions of the main concepts and variables

Mortality rates
The frequency of deaths in the population. In most cases the rate is multiplied by 1 000 so that it can be interpreted as the number of deaths per 1 000 persons.

Infant mortality
Number of deaths per 1 000 live births among children under the age of one.

Probability of death
Probability of death for a man/woman at age x is the probability that he/she will die before he/she reaches the age of x + 1. Probability of death is estimated for each age level separately for men and women and is used inter alia to estimate life expectancy. Probability of death is not the same as age-specific mortality rates.

Life expectancy - remaining lifetime
Life expectancy or mean lifetime is the number of years a new-born can expect to live under current mortality conditions (period mortality). Life expectancy is estimated on the basis of the age-specific mortality probabilities in the period. Expectation of life is estimated for the various age levels.

Calculation method - life expectancy and mortality tables

The mortality table is based on the probability of dying between two age levels (number of years). The probability is indicated with the symbol

Formel 1

 in which x stands for age x years.

The point of departure is a selected cohort of 100 000 persons of the same sex (l 0 =100 000), in which survivors at age x are

Formel 2

The number of persons who die are estimated for each age level.

The mathematical formula is as follows:

Formel 3

in which

Formel 4

is the probability that a person aged x-1 will be alive one year later.

The number of deceased persons by their exact age x to x+1 year in the selected cohort are given as:

Formel 5

To calculate the expectation of life at age x we need the auxiliary aggregates contemporary survivors and total remaining lifetime.

The contemporary survivors of age x,

Formel 6

are the average number of persons of age x. If the deaths are assumed to fall evenly throughout the year, contemporary survivors are:

Formel 7

Total remaining lifetime at age x is the number of years contemporary survivor xers in the cohort have to live:

Formel 8

in which

Formel 9

is equal to the highest age.

Expectation of life at age x is equal to the total of remaining years of life at age x, divided by the number of survivors at age x.

Formel 10

Age in the published tables is age in number of years at the time of death.



Standard classifications


Administrative information

Regional level


Frequency and timeliness

Annual final figures, quarterly preliminary figures.

International reporting

FN. Eurostat.


Files at the individual level which are processed and stored long-term.


Background and purpose

The statistics show the number of deaths over the course of one year. Mortality rates, infant mortality and life expectancy can indicate the general health of the population.

Statistics Norway has national figures dating back to 1735 and county figures from around 1950.

Users and applications

Public administration, politicians, the media, lawyers, the insurance industry and researchers who study demographics and living standards.

Equal treatment of users

Not relevant

Coherence with other statistics

Death statistics are included in the population accounts as one of the components for understanding the changes in the population.

From 1 January 2000 the same definition will mainly be used in the quarterly figures vis-à-vis the final statistics. The main difference is that in the final death statistics there is a two-month wait before the death reports are taken out, while in the quarterly figures there is only a one-month wait. From 1 January 2002 there is one-month wait before the death report are taken out, such as the quarterly figures.

Another source of death statistics is the cause of death register at the Division for Health Statistics.

The number of deaths in causes of death statistics does not completely coincide with the number of deaths in Statistics Norway’s population statistics. The difference used to be more extensive due to different routines regarding delayed reporting.

The differences in the number of deaths in recent years are due to the fact that population statistics are not including civilian death certificates received after the end of January the following year, while causes of deaths statistics includes medical death certificates received until just before publishing the results, for example for the 2010 statistics until the end of September 2011. On the other hand population statistics are including deaths that occurred in previous years, with a change in birth year and death year for the deceased so that age at death will be correct.

The different routines have, for the last twenty years, resulted in a yearly difference in the number of deaths by plus/minus 100 with a few exceptions. Please note that even for a statistical year with an equal number of deaths the two statistics can include a different group of (population of) deaths, for instance regarding age, gender and so on for approximately 200 persons. Nevertheless, over a time span of several statistical years the populations with be approximately identical.

Legal authority

Statistics Act §§ 2-1, 2-2, 3-2

EEA reference

Not relevant



The statistics cover only persons registered as living in Norway at the time of their death, without regard to whether the death took place in Norway or abroad.

The statistics for 1999 mainly cover deaths that actually occurred in 1999. Deaths from all previous years are counted in the 1999 figures if the report was made between 1 March 1999 and 29 February 2000, i.e. too late to be included in the 1998 or earlier annual statistics.

From 1985 to 1998 the statistics covered deaths that actually had happened during the year and in addition only deaths from the preceding year which were recorded too late to be included in the statistics.

From 2002 the statistics cover deaths from all previous years if the report was made between 1 March and 31 January 2003, i.e. too late to be included in the 2001 or earlier annual statistics.

Data sources and sampling

Death statistics are based on population register data. The figures from 1995 and later are based on the Central Population Register (DSF) at the Directorate of Taxes, while the figures for 1968-1994 are taken from its predecessor, the National Population Register (DSP). The register was built up from 1964 to 1966 on the basis of the 1960 census, at the same time as the 11-digit national identity number was introduced as identification. The Office of the National Registrar, which administrates the register, was transferred in 1991 from Statistics Norway to the Directorate of Taxes.

Since 1946 each municipality has had a local population registry that registers all residents in the municipality, pursuant to the Population Registration Act and its regulations. The population registries receive reports of births, deaths, marriages, divorces, migration etc. from various sources.

Deaths are reported by the probate court or sheriff to the population registry in the deceased person's municipality of residence. Reports of deaths abroad of persons who were residents of Norway are received via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Norwegian Maritime Directorate.

Updating of the Central Population Register is done in part by the local population registries, which are connected to the DSF via terminals, and in part by the Directorate of Taxes. The basis of the statistics on changes in the population is electronic copies to Statistics Norway of all such register updates. The reports are also used to update a separate Statistics Norway population database kept for statistical purposes, which forms the basis for the statistics on the composition of the population.

Data on basic statistical units are taken from the address portion of the Ground Property, Address and Building Register (GAB) owned by the Norwegian Mapping Authority.

Not relevant.

Collection of data, editing and estimations

Not relevant.

In addition to checks made by the DSF, Statistics Norway performs checks for statistical purposes. For further details of the controls that are done, see 3.7.3. in the report:

Dokumentasjon av BESYS-befolkningsstatistikksystemet. Befolkningsendringer i 1998 og befolkningsbasen (BEBAS) 1. januar 2000. Anne Sofie Brørs, Kirsten Dybendal, Aslaug Hurlen Foss og Trude Jakobsen, Notat 2000/24 Statistics Norway. ISSN 0806-3745 (in Norwegian only)

The statistics counts deaths by sex, age, marital status and citizenship.

Seasonal adjustment

Not relevant


If a table consists zero, one or two units and disclosing these units can lead to identification of individuals, the figure is rounded up or left empty.

Comparability over time and space

In 1999 the scope of which deaths are included was changed, leading to an 0.3 per cent increase in the number of deaths compared with the previous definition.

The method for calculating life expectancy was revised in 1998. The difference with the old method of calculation was a couple of hundredths.

Accuracy and reliability

Sources of error and uncertainty

Not relevant.



Not relevant