Gerontology Wiki
Vaino Kannisto
Vaino Kannisto
Birth: 24 September 1916
Helsinki, Finland
Death: 16 February 2002
Lisbon, Portugal
Age: 86 years, 145 days
Country: FinlandFINPortugalPOR

Vaino Olavi Kannisto of Finland (24 September 1916 - 16 February 2002) was a demographer noted for the Kannisto-Thatcher Database, among other works.


Vaino Kannisto was born in Helsinki, Finland on 24 September 1916. His father was a linguist and professor Artturi Kannisto. He studied economics and statistics at the University of Helsinki and graduated with a master's degree in 1938. From 1939 to 1945 he was employed by the Statistical Office as an assistant actuary but spent most of that time in military service. During the Continuation War in 1942, he collected statistical data on the marriage history, births and deaths of local women in East Karelia through more than 5,500 interviews. Kannisto intended to use the material for his doctoral dissertation, but abandoned the intention when the professor who supervised his work found the material unreliable because it was not based on official documents. In the 1980s, Kannisto donated the material he collected to the Department of Sociology of the University of Helsinki.

After the wars, Kannisto defended his doctorate in 1947; dissertation Causes of death as demographic factors in Finland dealt with the causes of death of the population in Finland. Kannisto found regional differences in the causes of death of the population, so that in Western Finland tuberculosis was the leading cause of death, while in Eastern Finland it was heart disease. In particular, the mortality of middle-aged and old men in Eastern Finland was higher than usual. After earning his Ph.D., Kannisto studied biostatistics in Baltimore at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health from 1947 to 1948 and economic statistics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia from 1948 to 1949. Kannisto was then employed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a statistical expert from 1949 to 1955. He returned to Finland in 1956 for a year at the Statistical Office, but then moved back abroad and worked for the United Nations from 1957 to 1981 as an expert in demography and social statistics. After retiring, Kannisto was still an expert in various UN organizations from 1982 to 1990. From 1990, Kannisto lived with his wife in Lisbon. From the 1980s, Kannisto continued his research on population mortality, which he had done in the 1940s, now focusing on the causes of death in those over 80 years of age. He frequently visited Finland and received the honorary doctorate of the University of Tampere in 1985.

Vaino Kannisto passed away in Lisbon, Portugal on 16 February 2002 at the age of 86 years. The Vaino Kannisto Foundation awards the prize for the best demographic thesis in the field of mortality and health research.