A study by Ognjen Obućina and Ilari Ilmakunnas and cited by Sunday’s Helsingin Sanomat concluded the following: poverty and housing overcrowding was more prevalent among immigrant children compared with white Finnish children.
The study showed that 60% of migrant children had experienced poverty for at least a year during the first five years of their lives. Moreover, 45% of the latter group experienced overcrowding. The corresponding figure for white Finnish children was 25%.
Ilmakunnas was quoted as saying in Helsingin Sanomat that renting is one factor that explains overcrowding. “Rents have gone up especially in [urban] growth centers,” he said.
While these types of studies are essential and shed light on our ever-growing culturally diverse communities, the problem is that they lack political action and will.
One factor that has dampened such political will is that Finland has since the 2011 parliamentary election a hostile and racist party, the Perussuomalaiset (PS).* Their presence and the popularity of their anti-immigration message and their success in the elections is enough to discourage many.
Statistics Finland researcher Pekka Myrskylä is one of many who has shown how disadvantaged migrant groups in this country. In 2014, he wrote. “Generous social welfare benefits to migrants appear to be an urban legend. Since migrants make a quarter less than natives, welfare benefits are smaller since they hinge on earnings-related subsidies.”
I wonder how many have read Pasi Suakkonen’s study, Maahanmuuttajen kotoutuminen Helsingissä (2016)? The study points out that migrants make annually on average nationally 27.3% less (21,479 euros versus 29,550 euros by Finns), and in Helsinki 38.5% less (22,286 euros versus 36,239 euros) than Finns.
Finland has never experienced a Black Lives Matter social movement like in the United States. But if we continue to drag our heels and do little to make migrants and minorities feel at home and enjoy the same rights as white Finns, it will only be a matter of time when such a movement will appear.