surviving life

Norway's Population Between 1845-2015

2015-05-25 (20:43)

This post shows a brief overview of some of the data about the Norwegian population between 1845-2015. Statistics Norway has a lot of data about the country, and I wanted to inspect some of it to see if I could find something surprising or interesting.

Total population of Norway

To start it all off, let’s look at the total population. As of 01.01.2015 there were 5,165,802 people living in Norway, with 50.31% male and 49.69% females. Historically there has been most women in Norway, but in the data from 01.01.2011, there were for the first time in recorded history most males. I’ve always heard that there were most women, so this definitely surprised me.

The growth rate year-over-year seems to hover around 0.5% and 1.5% as can be seen in the chart below.

In fact, we can see the year-over-year change in the growth rate below which shows that Norway doesn’t increase its increase in population faster and faster, but instead that varies quite a bit over the years.

Age Distribution of Norway’s Population

Another thing I’ve heard is that women tend to live longer than men, and this turned out not to be a myth. Since the data gathering started it has always shown that women live longer than men. We can clearly see the large sections for older age groups for women in the charts below.

Marital Status

Another thing I’ve heard is that there are women who outlive their husband than the other way around, so I also took a look at the marital status of the people in Norway from 1865-2015. First of all, let’s take a quick peek at the raw data of all the different states that are gathered.

The data above seems to to include a lot of people that are under 15 years old, and also some unknowns, so by removing that we should get a clearer picture.

With the charts above we can see the data much clearer, and it is clear to me that women not only live longer, that also seems to correlate with them being widowed more often. There also seems to be a difference in the number of unmarried persons, so for the people that are 15 years or older, the following chart shows the percentage of the population that are unmarried, which means that they are not married now, and have never been, as a percentage of the whole population.

So men definitely stay single more then women. In addition, the chart might indicate that since there are more singles than before (an upward trend recently), people stay single longer, which matches what I thought.

But now let’s take a look at the marital status of persons that have in fact been married at least once, but are not married anymore.

However, the charts above doesn’t really visualize that there are way more women than men who have been widowed, so let’s see how the data looks like when we put it together in a single chart as a percentage of all of the persons in that state.

That at least much clearer showed the different states across the sexes. Way more women than men have been widoved, but overall, it seems like the number of divorces has gone up for both sexes. The number of widows has very slowly decreased since 1995, but it could also be just that the number of divorced have gone up significantly. Let’s take a look at the raw numbers.

That seems to show a huge increase in the number of divorces since 1960. Did something happen, or is this just because the total population went up? Let’s overlay the total population on top of this data.

Now we can see that the increase in the number of divorces increase far more than the total number of people in Norway, so there seems to be something that has changed with our society recently.

One theory would be that the new women’s liberation movement which made popular by Simone de Beauvoir in May 1968, caused the society to experience this change. In Norway, it resulted in more gender equality, more women getting an education and getting a payed job among other things. For some more information about this change in Norway, you can read Den nye kvinnebevegelsen i 1970-årene by Elisabeth Lønnå (in Norwegian). In general the whole site is a quick overview about this topic. It’s developed by the Nordic Gender Institute and Information Centre for Gender Research in Norway. There is naturally also a lot of information about this online, and a simple starting point could be a search on Google for gender equality or feminist movement.



Marital Status

  • Downloaded Resident population, by sex and marital status (table 05813) for men and women between 1769-2015.
  • Data between 1769-1855 was incomplete, so it was removed.
  • The Unmarried column was just a sum of persons above and below 15 years, so it was removed.
  • To fill in missing data, initially tried to use Smart Autofill for Google Sheets, which uses Machine Learning via the Google Prediction API. However, the data ended up looking unnatural.
  • Data about Separated persons was missing for 1946 and 1955. Because of a sudden bump in the number in 1975, fitting of Separated persons was done based on data from 1865-1970. Data about Divorced persons was missing for 1946, and was fitted based on data from 1865-2015. Both of these were fitted using scipy.optimize.curve_fit with the following function:
    def func(x, a, b, c, d):
      return a*x**3 + b*x**2 + c*x + d

Creating charts

  • All charts were created using Google Sheets.
  • For merging data between marital status and population, I manually merged the data in Google Sheets and selected “Plot null values” to ensure that the graph was continuous.
  • To simplify comparison for charts with multiple data points per year, I selected “Compare mode” for the chart. That makes the hover functionality show all results for the given X-value.
  • All charts have been embedded to the website using Publish to the web and selecting Embed of an Interactive chart. See this for details. I tried just saving an image and linking to the original chart at first, but then I lost the functionality of being able to have interactive charts in compare-mode.