Finland Social Condition Facts

Social conditions

A generous social policy and social legislation provides Finns with well-functioning security systems, usually administered by the municipalities. During the economic crisis in the 1990s, the cost of welfare was cut, including the reduction in unemployment benefits. Even during the 2008 economic downturn, attempts have been made to reduce the state’s costs for social protection networks. Nevertheless, Finland spends more money on welfare than most other EU countries.

Health care is well developed and is largely financed by public funds. Infant mortality in Finland is one of the lowest in the world. A remaining public health problem is that the proportion of alcoholics in the population is relatively high. About 2,000 deaths per year can be related to alcohol. However, overall alcohol consumption has decreased in recent years, and the total alcohol consumption in Finland is somewhere in the middle compared to the rest of Europe. The main cause of death is cardiovascular disease.

Sickness insurance is financed through municipal tax and by employers. It subsidizes both care and pharmaceuticals and provides some compensation for sick leave at work.

The pension system consists mainly of two parts, an income-tested national pension to which all citizens are entitled, and a pension part whose size depends on how many years of service the person has. The retirement age is 65, but since 2005, those aged between 63 and 68 can choose to retire in retirement.

finland population

A debate has been going on for several years about how Finland should be able to finance the large welfare sector in the longer term, especially considering that the proportion of older people in the population is increasing. Votes have been raised to make more people work longer. As the country’s economy has faced more and more challenges in the 2010s (see Finance), the government has been trying to find ways to reduce both long-term sick leave and early retirement, as well as the cost of public employees (see Labor market). The bourgeois government that took office in 2015 was one of its main objectives to implement a major reform of the country’s health care with the aim of centralizing and streamlining public health care and encouraging private alternatives. However, it failed to push through the comprehensive plans.

Less class differences than before

Unlike Sweden, until the 1960s, Finland had virtually no middle class. The majority of Finns were included in the working class, while there was a small upper class with a great influence in society. Nowadays, class boundaries have started to be blurred, while the pay gap between high and low income earners continues to be relatively large.

The rapid urbanization that took off after World War II has changed the family patterns. A Finnish family has an average of 1.9 children. Only a few percent have four children or more.

When a child is born, the mother can take leave for three months (105 days). Thereafter and until the child becomes nine months, there is parental leave for 158 days which can be taken out by the mother or father or shared equally between the two parents. It is more common for the mother to stay home with the children than the father does.

The children bear either the mother’s or the father’s last name or a combination of both. At marriage it is common for the woman to take the husband’s last name, but a man can take his wife’s last name if the couple so wishes. The proportion of married couples has declined since the 1960s, which is because more and more people choose to live together without being married. At the same time, divorce has become more common. Nowadays, around half of all marriages dissolve.

First in Europe with female voting rights

In 1995, discrimination based on sexual orientation was prohibited by law. Same-sex couples have since 2002 been allowed to register partnerships and since March 1, 2017 have the right to marry, but they are still not allowed to adopt children. Instead, one party in the couple relationship can adopt their partner’s child, so-called kinship adoption.

Finland was the first in Europe in 1906 to introduce women’s suffrage and the first in the world to allow women to stand for election.

Women work almost as much as men, but they usually have lower positions and lower wages, even though they are generally at least as well educated as men. More than half of the students in higher education are women.

In the case of inheritance, women and men have the same rights.

Young people release from their parents relatively early and many move away from home before the age of 20. Girls generally move slightly earlier than boys.

Discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin is prohibited by law but still exists. For example, some groups find it difficult to enter the labor market. One group that is often discriminated against is the Roma.


Infant Mortality: 1 per 1000 births (2018)

Percentage of HIV infected: 0.1 percent (2018)

Proportion of HIV infected among young women

0.1 percent (2018)

Proportion of HIV infected among young men: 0.1 percent (2018)

Proportion of population with access to clean water: 100.0 percent (2015)

Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 99.4 percent (2017)

Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 9.4 percent (2015)

Public expenditure on health care per person: 4,117 US dollars (2016)

Proportion of women in parliament: 42 percent (2018)



The Prime Minister announces his departure

Vanhanen states that he will resign as party leader at the Center’s congress in June 2010.


Prime Minister in windy weather

Prime Minister Vanhanen passes a vote of no confidence in Parliament, brought by the Social Democrats. The background is a revelation that Vanhanen, like other politicians from the Center and the Socialist Party, did not report all election contributions. It appears that Vanhanen has received large sums from a nonprofit foundation where he was chairman.


Folkstorm around the pension issue

Prime Minister Vanhanen faces fierce opposition when he proposes raising the retirement age from 63 to 65. The union threatens a general strike and Vanhanen is forced to withdraw the proposal. The government, trade unions and employers decide to jointly formulate a proposal for pension reform.