The well-being of the immigrant population in Finland

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In 2022, the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare started a project on the well-being of the immigrant population of Finland. The Institute published the results of the project online recently. In our blog this week, we’ll review some of the results.

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The MoniSuomi 2022 project

The MoniSuomi 2022 project aims to gather information on the health, well-being, and social and healthcare service use among the foreign-born population of Finland. This information helps to measure and evaluate the well-being of this population. Also, decision-makers in Finland can use this information to develop services that will promote the health and well-being of immigrants in Finland.

The MoniSuomi 2022 information is based on a survey of immigrants in Finland. The survey sample included 18,600 adult respondents who were born outside Finland. The researchers received answers from 7,838 of these respondents. 

This project is a continuation of an earlier project from 2018 called FinMonik. We’ve referred to those results for example here.   

The areas covered in the survey include, for example

  • inclusion, participation and social relations;
  • discrimination and violence;
  • living conditions;
  • mental health;
  • health services; and 
  • experienced health and quality of life. 

The actual data is only available in Finnish, but here’s a link to the complete list of indicators in English

The well-being of the immigrant population in Finland: survey results

The study looked at several indicators of well-being but we won’t go over them all here. If you want to get an overall picture of the survey findings, you have to rely on a Finnish-language summary. You can find it here. The Institute has also published a statistical report on the use of medical services and psychological distress among the immigrant population in Finland. There are Finnish and English-language versions of that report. The Finnish-language version is here and the English-language version is here

In the Finnish-language summary, the researchers summarize the main findings as follows:

  • On average, the well-being of the immigrant population in Finland is relatively good. 
  • Most immigrants have a relatively strong sense of belonging and personal safety.
  • Most immigrants feel that they are in good health. They report fewer long-term illnesses than the population in general
  • Discrimination is frequent. 43 % of respondents had experienced discrimination within the past 12 months.
  • Between 2018 and 2022 the need for health services increased significantly.

However, looking at the average results doesn’t really tell us much about the immigrant population in Finland. For most of the indicators, the results varied quite a lot when examined by demographic factors such as age, gender, and country of origin. 

For example, on average 80 % of immigrants reported that they have at least one friend in Finland. However, only 68 % of men coming from the Middle East or North Africa said the same. In contrast, at least 90 % of Estonians and Russians said they had at least one friend.  

Because of this variation, we’ll forget the overall averages and look at two indicators in more detail. 

Inclusion 

The researchers measured inclusion based on the percentage of people who had at least one friend in Finland, the share of people feeling lonely, the share of people having a very low sense of inclusion, and points per inclusion indicators on a scale of 1 to 100. 

Compared with the population as a whole, both immigrant men and women report higher points for inclusion, being a part of something, than Finnish men (74 vs. 72 points out of a 100) and women (77 vs. 75).  There was some variation according to gender and area of origin. However, the differences were not very pronounced. 

The situation changes, however, when we look at the share of people who have a very low sense of inclusion. In the whole population, 11 %  of men have a very low sense of inclusion. 8 % of all women feel the same. In contrast, 15 % of men from the Middle East and North Africa have a very low sense of inclusion. This is the highest share of men in all geographic groups. For women, the highest share was 10 %. Again for those from the Middle East and North Africa. The lowest shares, lower than for the general population, are for men and women from Estonia, the Far East, and Russia and the former Soviet Union.

Trust

The researchers asked the respondents about their trust in Finnish healthcare professionals, social service professionals, the police, the justice system, the government, religious communities, the media, teachers, and the President. 

The results show that generally speaking, trust in Finnish institutions is high. For example, around 83 % of immigrants said they trusted the Finnish justice system. However, only 73 % of Estonian men said the same. In contrast, 90 % of men from Southeast Asia said they trusted the Finnish justice system. 

The variation is highest with respect to religious institutions. 70 % of African men and 78 % of African women said they trusted Finnish religious institutions. Only 26 % of Estonian men did. 

On average, 58 % of immigrants trust the media in Finland. Levels varied from around 44 % (50-74 year-old men from Russia and the former Soviet Union) to 77 % (50-74 old women from the Far East).

The results make it clear that trust levels correlate with the respondent’s area of origin and gender. Thus these answers may reflect the respondents’ life experiences and differing views on how a society functions or should function. However, as the researchers point out, these types of officials can actively build trust with their actions.  

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