FSD3356 Finnish Perceptions of Poverty and Welfare Support 2015

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  • Kainulainen, Sakari (Diaconia University of Applied Sciences)
  • Saari, Juho (University of Eastern Finland. Department of Social Sciences)
  • Niemelä, Mikko (University of Turku)
  • Erola, Jani (University of Turku)
  • Kallio, Johanna (University of Turku)
  • Kouvo, Antti (University of Eastern Finland)
  • Helsingin Sanomat


income, living conditions, poverty, social disadvantage, social security, social security benefits, social services, socio-economic status, standard of living


This survey, conducted by the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat in 2015, charted Finnish views on poverty and social security. The survey was conducted as part of the "Two Finlands - growing inequality" project, which in turn was part of the "Is Finland Becoming Polarized?" programme funded by Kone Foundation. The survey included two open-ended questions, q8 "Describe a person who is poor in Finland; how do you recognise a poor person?" and q9 "What kind of standard of living should a poor person settle for in Finland; what kind of life should the person have a chance at?", which received a large number of responses (q8 N:5,718 and q9 N:5,726) and can be utilised in qualitative analysis. Open-ended responses are only available in Finnish.

First, the respondents' perceptions of poverty and the reasons for poverty were charted with statements concerning, for example, whether they thought that people who are poor had bad luck, did not have the same chances in life as other people, or were lazy, and that the level of social security benefits was too low or that poverty was an inevitable part of contemporary development. The respondents' trust in other people and in authorities was examined next and several statements were presented on basic social assistance. The statements included, for instance, whether the respondents thought that most people who received social assistance really needed it or that many applied for social assistance on fraudulent grounds. The respondents were also asked whether they agreed or disagreed with several statements on social security in general (e.g. whether differences in living standards were too large in Finland, people should take more responsibility of themselves, and rich people were greedy).

Next, the respondents were asked to place their own social standing on a scale from those who are worst off to those who are best off. Challenging situations in life were examined with questions on how closely the respondents had experienced various situations, such as long-term unemployment, over-indebtedness, serious mental health problems, or substance abuse problems, during the previous two years. Questions also focused on the respondents' opinions regarding the help provided by society to various groups of people (e.g. the long-term unemployed, disabled or homeless persons, or those who were victims of violent crimes or had been lonely for a long time).

Background variables included, among others, the respondent's gender, age, income, household size, highest level of education, NUTS2 and NUTS3 regions of residence, and degree of urbanisation of municipality of residence.

Study description in machine readable DDI-C 2.5 format

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