FSD3569 Changing Nature of Being an Expatriate Finn Survey 2020

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  • Hovi, Tuomas (Migration Institute of Finland)
  • Tervonen, Miika (Migration Institute of Finland)


COVID-19, brexit, distance learning, expatriates, interpersonal relations, national identity, nationality, political behaviour, population migration, religion, travel, voting behaviour, well-being (health)


The study investigated Finnish expatriates' views of Finland and experiences of living abroad. Main topics of the survey included well-being, social networks, political participation, reasons for moving abroad, the services available for expatriate Finns, the effects of COVID-19 and Brexit on expatriate Finns, and the respondents' interest in moving back to Finland. The survey was conducted in co-operation with the Church Council/Office of the Church Council Department for International Relations, the Finland Society, the Finnish Seamen's Mission, and the Finnish Lifelong Learning Foundation.

The respondents' life situation was surveyed with questions on what their current home country was, how long they had lived in their current home country, and which factors had influenced their move to their current home country (e.g. work, studies, work of their spouse, desire to live abroad, parent' background in the target country). The respondents were also asked how long they intended to live in their current country of residence, which factors affected their intention to not live in their current country of residence permanently (e.g. their work, their studies, career insecurity, children's schooling, desire to return to Finland), and whether they had lived abroad before and for how long. Full-time studies abroad and the field of studies were also charted.

On the topic of well-being, the respondents were asked how much they enjoyed in their current country of residence, whether they had good social networks in their country of residence, and how they would describe their health at the moment. Interest in receiving welfare-related services (e.g. health care/medical counselling, housing and environment, employment and working conditions, social relationships) from Finnish providers was also investigated. Opinions on the services available to expatriate Finns from Finland were examined with questions on how well the respondents knew several organisations that offer services to expatriate Finns, what kind of issues they needed counselling or services for (e.g. taxation, social security, children's studies), and whether they thought that there were enough services available.

The next sets of questions focused on the effects of the coronavirus epidemic and Brexit. The respondents were asked whether COVID-19 or Brexit had increased their willingness to return to Finland. On the effects of the coronavirus epidemic, the respondents were also asked how COVID-19 had affected their daily life in their country of residence and whether they had received sufficient information and support from the Finnish state and expatriate Finnish organisations regarding the coronavirus situation. Additionally, the impact of Brexit on the respondents' daily life (e.g. work, studies, plans for the future, experience of belonging to their country of residence) was surveyed. The respondents' expectations and support needs in relation to moving back to Finland were charted with questions on whether they had considered moving back to Finland, why they had considered moving back to Finland (e.g. family reasons, work situation in their country of residence, political situation in their country of residence, coronavirus epidemic), and what matters they would like to receive guidance on regarding a possible move back to Finland (e.g. practical issues related to moving, benefits and services, looking for a job).

The respondents' social networks in their current country of residence and whether coronavirus had decreased their social interaction with others in their current country of residence were surveyed. Participation in different activities (e.g. Finland Society and/or Finnish Expatriate Parliament, Finnish School, expatriate Finn discussion groups on Facebook), and how important different ways to maintain contact with other Finns and Finnish identity (e.g. participating in the activities of expatriate Finnish communities, having the possibility to use the Finnish language) were investigated. In addition, the respondents' contact with and visits to Finland were surveyed by asking how often the respondents had visited Finland since moving abroad, how often they followed affairs relating to Finland, where their family members currently lived, and how they kept in touch with family members living in different countries.

Political participation was examined by asking the respondents how interested they were in politics in Finland and their current country of residence, in which Finnish elections they had voted, whether they had voted in the elections of their current country of residence, which reasons had influenced their decision to not vote if they had not voted, and which Finnish parties' candidates they had voted for. Additional questions were asked on the topics of religion and national identity. These questions covered, for example, religious affiliation, frequency of taking part in religious activities, and the importance of several factors in relation to the respondents' identity (e.g. being Finnish, being European, religion, patriotism, Finnish language, Finnish celebrations).

Background variables included, among others, the respondent's gender, age group, country of residence, country of birth (categorised), nationalities (categorised), and mother tongue (categorised).

Study description in machine readable DDI 2.0 format

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