The new decade will either make or break Finland. If we are not successful at attracting labor immigrants to our country to plug the ever-growing number of pensioners leaving the labor market during the 2010s, the first one to feel the impact will be the economy.
Due to the recession and age-old taboos of Finnish nationalism, some Finns would rather stick their heads in the sand than face the demographic challenges ahead. According to Statistics Finland,Finland´s population is graying rapidly. As more people retire from the workforce the more strains it will place on public finances and our society.
How many? The number of pensioners will rise from the present 17% (905,000 persons who are older than 65 years) to 27% by 2040 and 29% (1.79 million) by 2060. Better medicare will fuel this trend. Persons over 85 years in Finland will rise from 2% (108,000) to 7% (463,000).
Any sensible person understands that for a country to have a successful and dynamic immigration policy a general acceptance by society is paramount. Does Finland have a favorable attitude towards immigrants? The jury is still out on this question since Finland’s foreign population is still too small to make any clear assessment. However, if we look at immigrant unemployment figures, which are about two times higher than the national average, Finland does not appear very immigrant-friendly.
One of the matters that we will have overcome as a nation if we want to attract new inhabitants is offer opportunities to attain the Finnish dream.The same matters that makes us want to live here must rub off on those who may choose to move here.
Despite our successful welfare society founded on liberal democratic values, the weight of our history continues to muddy our view of the outside world and of outsiders. It has made us liberal in our perceptions of society but also extremely conservative because we have always felt that we are in danger of being devoured by a foreign power.
Knowledge of our history is vital but more important is how we see the future.