Finland’s present demographic challenges are a threat to its prosperity

by , under All categories, Enrique

Finland will see dramatic changes to its population age structure in the next four decades, when the number of over-64-year-olds will soar by 941,000 to 1.639 million people, according to MTV3, citing Statistics Finland. Likewise, our labor force will shrink by an estimated 600,000 people in about 25 years. 

It is surprising, if not worrying, that the majority of politicians, never mind political parties, don’t consider Finland’s demographic woes a serious enough problem to address today. Few if any speak openly about attracting skilled immigrants to the country as one of many measures to slow the worrying trend.

In many respects, these politicians are hostages of their own complacency and shortsightedness. It’s very difficult to speak out in favor of immigration and cultural diversity when such politicians have been silent or made in the past slipshot comments on the issue.

But why would any sensible immigrant want to move to a country that doesn’t appear interested in them? Moreover, what’s so attractive about a country where it takes a long time to learn the language, has high taxes, long-and-cold winters and does everything possible to remind you that you are an immigrant?

Didn’t 19.1% of the Finns vote last year for the Perussuomalaiset (PS), an anti-EU, anti-immigration and especially anti-Islam party?

Pekka Myskylä of Statistics Finland, however, believes that our foreign population will account for 16% of the total population by 2057.

In a blog entry published in December 2009, Migrant Tales wrote that 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, according to Statistics Finland, Better medicare will fuel this trend, with persons over 85 years rising from 2% (108,000) to 7% (463,000).

What Finland doesn’t need today is a party like the PS that fuels xenophobia and instills fear in the hearts and minds of Finns on issues like immigration.

 

 

 

  1. Iam

    This system, parliament and government should live out of the world not on the world, then it will works for Finalnd.

    🙂
    Now adays is a bitter history of Finland, there is a big storm, they created, parliament people and voters, no/one is safe with storm, storm is harsh and will bite one by one.

    Hi dear Enrique
    And peace to Finalnd

  2. Toiset Soundit

    “But why would any sensible immigrant want to move to a country that doesn’t appear interested in them? Moreover, what’s so attractive about a country where it takes a long time to learn the language, has high taxes, long-and-cold winters and does everything possible to remind you that you are an immigrant?”

    Don’t you think that this is a little bit exaggerated? I mean as if you are implying that It is Finland’s fault that there are cold winters, that the language is hard, that the taxes are high (which is better than the kind of neo-liberal system where no one pays any taxes – i.e. Finland happens to be a Nordic welfare state, high taxes are part of that)?

    I am sorry, but you are painting a way too grim picture of Suomi. This blog is a little (?) bit too tendentious. I too, worry about racism. I however worry more about the social upheavals with which we are confonted, because they are at the root of social ills like racism.

    For that matter, I do not believe that Finland ‘must’ welcome more foreigners because of some vague neo-liberal concept of supply and demand in the labour market, in order to what? Make the industrialists happy because then they have a larger reservoir of workers which they can exploit, because do not forget that – like it or not – most immigrants coming to Europe nowadays are poor and unskilled. And do not contribute to welfare in that sense.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      –Don’t you think that this is a little bit exaggerated?

      Finland is competing with the best for skilled labor. Look at Germany, England and other countries where there are already many immigrants. Why would I want to move to a country that doesn’t yet get it concerning immigration and cultural diversity? Certainly it will learn. The faster, the more immigrants will start to move here.

  3. Mark

    Toiset Soundit

    – “which is better than the kind of neo-liberal system where no one pays any taxes”

    Neo-liberal? Give me a concrete example of a party, anywhere in the world, that suggests such a tax policy. I’d be interested to read about it.

    – “I am sorry, but you are painting a way too grim picture of Suomi.”

    There is no ‘one’ picture of Suomi, in the same way there is no ‘one’ Helsinki. It’s a different experience for the different people living here. Trying to get ‘one’ picture to fit everyone doesn’t work. In this case, it’s just common sense to recognise that for some people, Finland is a grim place, both for natives and for immigrants, though immigrants that complain about things in Finland are seen as being ‘ungrateful’, while natives are just being ‘Finnish’ when they complain about things. 🙂

    – “neo-liberal concept of supply and demand in the labour market, in order to what?”

    More of this ‘neo-liberalism’. I hardly think supply and demand is exclusively a liberal concept or a ‘neo’ concept. It’s fairly fundamental to any economic system. The issue here though is not so much industrialists looking to stock the factories with cheap labourers, but rather services, for the elderly, health services, home care services, along with fewer people as tax contributors, both in numbers and as a proportion of the population.

    – “most immigrants coming to Europe nowadays are poor and unskilled. And do not contribute to welfare in that sense.”

    Well, that’s not true. For many of them, they are highly skilled, but their qualifications are not recognised or perhaps even directly relevant to a European system. The economy requires people of differing skills though, some semi-skilled, some highly skilled. Even a ‘poor’ mother from a developing country who happens to have five healthy kids who grow up with perfect Finnish and go on to college or university is greatly contributing to the Finnish economy in the long-run, TS. But you’d have to take a larger perspective to see or appreciate that.

    But hey, get the sly digs in on the immigrants and how much they ‘cost’ Finnish society. Or did you perhaps mean something else? Would make a nice change if you did.

  4. Toiset Soundit

    Neo-liberalism: only the rich do not pay few or no taxes. Exists in many countries troughout the whole world, including my home country, Belgium. But in the first place: USA, England, many third world countries…

    I can agree with you on the fact that Finland like other European countries shall need a lot of health workers in the near future and that European countries in that sense may benefit from migrant workers. I said may…

    Diversity won’t bring universal happiness, which is what this blog wants to make believe. Diversity is a fact in many countries and countries will have to take a stand towards it, be open to it, try to encourage people not to fear it. But too much diversity (i.e. a high influx of – mostly unskilled – people with a different cultural background who do not know how to live, act, thrive in a modern-day society) creates great tensions. That is what we see happening today. And those tensions only benefit to those who want to divide (PS, big business, …) instead of to unite.

    Being patronizing and provocative towards those who do fear, who do feel lost in their own neighbourhoods, who do not have the intellectual capacities to look behind the smoke screen of the hatemongers, but who are in fact the first ones to be confronted with the negative effects of uncontrolled migration (in whose neighbourhoods do these people settle you think? Not in the neighbourhoods where the highly educated live, I can give you that) is counterproductive, as the left in Belgium has understood in the mean time. Maybe it is time to start dealing with the subject in a more caleidoscopic way, that means also trying (empathy ) to look at the matter from the point of view of the – what you call- hillbillies, epähiket and what more.

    Finland is not a racist country. South-Africa was, The United States before the abolition of slavery and long after that was. The Congo was a racits construction. And so was the domination of the Swedish speaking bättre folk and their stance towards the Finnish boors. Saoudi-Arabia and many of the Gulf States are entertaining a racist system in which all non-Arabs are treated as untermenschen, the blacker the more ‘unter’.

    Not saying Finland hasn’t got issues with racism. But in this blog Finland is portrayed as some kind of new S-Africa, USA, S-Arabia… a little bt exaggerated.

    best schooling system, open to everybody, paying huge attention to minorities in schools, extra language classes and so on

    Social security system working for all

    Extra curricula for foreigners who want to become nurses

    Minority (language) rights for Swedish speakers

    Freedom of religion

    For the rest, I wish you all the luck.

    • Mark

      TS

      But too much diversity (i.e. a high influx of – mostly unskilled – people with a different cultural background who do not know how to live, act, thrive in a modern-day society) creates great tensions. That is what we see happening today. And those tensions only benefit to those who want to divide (PS, big business, …) instead of to unite.

      I actually agree with this assessment. It is the challenge of our times, it is a very significant social change, but reverting to old nationalisms is absolutely not the right solution.

      Diversity won’t bring universal happiness, which is what this blog wants to make believe.

      That almost sounds religious. It is not the intention of this blog to promise universal happiness, by any means. What it certainly hopes to do is challenge those who would very specifically seek to affect the happiness of perfectly honest, law-abiding, hard-working, aspiring citizens whose only crime is to have come from somewhere else.

      Being patronizing and provocative towards those who do fear, who do feel lost in their own neighbourhoods, who do not have the intellectual capacities to look behind the smoke screen of the hatemongers, but who are in fact the first ones to be confronted with the negative effects of uncontrolled migration (in whose neighbourhoods do these people settle you think? Not in the neighbourhoods where the highly educated live, I can give you that) is counterproductive, as the left in Belgium has understood in the mean time

      This is one of the smartest observations I’ve seen written in a comment by one of our guest commentators, and I thank you for it. I agree. The only thing I will say about it is that people very rarely present their experiences so honestly. More often than not, these fears and uncertainties are expressed through scapegoating of minorities, and there, my tolerance and sympathy gets somewhat tested.

      Finland is not a racist country.

      It has been my stand for some time that asking if Finland is a racist country is the wrong question. The important question is whether there is racism in Finland and what can and should be done about it.

      The United States before the abolition of slavery and long after that was.

      Long after and into the current day. Obama has no chance in some of the formerly democrat, but not firmly entrenched Republican racist southern states.

      But in this blog Finland is portrayed as some kind of new S-Africa

      The key issue in Finland is that 20% of voters have voted for what amounts to an openly racist party. For all the protestations and rejection of criticisms, the True Finns clearly and strategically gather support from a racist undercurrent in Finland. Denying otherwise is admitting to living with your head buried in the multa.

      Social security system working for all

      Extra curricula for foreigners who want to become nurses

      Minority (language) rights for Swedish speakers

      Freedom of religion

      You should stand for councillor on behalf of the Swedish party. 😀

    • JusticeDemon

      TS

      Being patronizing and provocative towards those who do fear, who do feel lost in their own neighbourhoods, who do not have the intellectual capacities to look behind the smoke screen of the hatemongers, but who are in fact the first ones to be confronted with the negative effects of uncontrolled migration (in whose neighbourhoods do these people settle you think? Not in the neighbourhoods where the highly educated live, I can give you that) is counterproductive, as the left in Belgium has understood in the mean time. Maybe it is time to start dealing with the subject in a more caleidoscopic way, that means also trying (empathy ) to look at the matter from the point of view of the – what you call- hillbillies, epähiket and what more.

      In the first place Finland does not have uncontrolled migration, at least with respect to non-citizens settling in Finland. With the same degree of care taken in observing the Helsinki tram network, a tourist might readily gain the impression that this transport system is free of charge, as most passengers do not bother to show their monthly travelcards to the card reader. The fact that poorly informed outsiders do not see immigration control procedures does not mean that there is no control. Even citizens of other Nordic countries are subject to rudimentary immigration control.

      The intellectually challenged redneck fringe (or epähiket, if you prefer) tends to repeat whatever explanation of its discomfort is fed to it by the cheaper end of the mass media (aka the gutter press), which is either owned by big business or at least depends on big business for advertising and other revenues. If this fringe is squeezed by the drive for profit in big business, then it is politically important to ensure that its attention is diverted away from the true source of its pain.

      Thus an industrial worker did not lose his job because a large company cut its workforce and intimidated the remaining staff into working unpaid overtime. That explanation would be too complicated. Instead the worker lost his job because the immigrants are moving in. Any media outlet or ambitious political activist willing to sell this ridiculous lie can expect various forms of direct and indirect financial support from the people who profit. In the meantime the lie leads to resentment on the street and some immigrant gets beaten up, with consequent polarisation of views and political division of the victimised social segment.

      This pattern of distraction is repeated for whatever social problem happens to be flavour of the month. We had an exceptionally thick troll on here a while back claiming that undocumented immigrants were somehow responsible for economic problems in the eurozone. It takes a peculiar turn of mind to conclude that people who receive the smallest financial return on the value of their labour, and who are also systematically excluded from social services, can somehow constitute a net drain on the public economy. This view is so absurd that it can only be explained in terms of lack of basic critical acumen and a certain type of psychopathology that disposes an individual to believe such obvious crap, but it does have a certain utility in deflecting attention from obscene levels of tax evasion and reckless gambling on the financial markets.

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