FSD3373 Welfare and Inequality in Finland 2012

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  • Kainulainen, Sakari (Diaconia University of Applied Sciences)
  • Saari, Juho (University of Eastern Finland)


quality of life, satisfaction, social inequality, social security benefits, social status, well-being (health)

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The study charted Finnish opinions on welfare and inequality. The study was part of the Wellbeing and social cohesion in an unequal society (WEBE) project funded by the Academy of Finland (decision number: 252317).

First, the respondents' satisfaction with their financial circumstances was charted with questions regarding, for example, whether they would want to earn more money, own more clothes, be able to eat out more often, and be able to go on holiday to exotic places more often. The respondents' self-perceived success in important areas of life, such as relationships and self-esteem, was charted next by using the Flourishing Scale (FS). The respondents were then asked about their general life satisfaction, mood, ability to achieve things and perceived status in society.

Next, satisfaction with specific domains of life, such as standard of living, personal health and personal safety, was examined by using the Personal Wellbeing Index (PWI). Regarding income and personal finance, net income of the household and the ease of covering usual expenses with the income were surveyed. The respondents' perceptions regarding various different groups in Finland, for example, the homeless, immigrants, middle class, and rich, were surveyed. Some questions focused on the respondents' personal health, and they were asked, for example, whether they had had problems with moving or exercise, felt pain or suffering, or experienced fears or depression on the day the survey was conducted. The respondents were then asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed with various statements concerning work and family life, living circumstances, communities they belonged to, and environment and nature.

Feelings of loneliness, depression, failure, happiness and being loved or in love in the past 12 months were charted. The respondents were also asked how well various statements described them (e.g. whether they thought people should live independently, spoke directly and openly with others, and liked talking to their neighbours). Next, the respondents were asked how much they cared about the well-being of different groups (e.g. the homeless, immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, children in poor families, the elderly). The respondents' opinions concerning the people living in their neighbourhood were charted and trust in other people was examined. The help the respondents received from people close to them was surveyed with questions on, for example, who helped them with practical issues and who would help them financially if they needed it.

The respondents were then asked whether they thought Finnish society had offered or would offer them better or worse opportunities compared to others of the same age (e.g. in standard of living, income, hobbies and starting a family). Some questions concerned the respondents' life management, for instance, whether they ate healthy food, used alcohol or drugs, and took care of people close to them. Negative life events were surveyed with questions on whether the respondents, a family member or a friend had experienced challenging life circumstances (e.g. homelessness, substance abuse, over-indebtedness, disability). A number of statements about social assistance (the social security benefit of the last resort) and social security were presented (e.g. whether the respondents thought that many people apply for social assistance on fraudulent grounds or that EU membership is a disadvantage for social security). Finally, the respondents were asked whether differences in income, health, neighbourhoods and education were too high in Finland.

Background variables included the respondent's gender, age, year of birth, marital status, household composition, type of accommodation, housing tenure, level of education, economic activity and occupational status, municipality and NUTS3 region of residence, and whether R's municipality of residence at present was the same as R's municipality of residence at birth.

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