Bengt Holmström is a Finnish economist who received the Nobel Prize in economics in 2016. What he may know about economics does not mirror his knowledge of Nordic values such as social equality and especially how migrants and minorities live in Finland.
In an interview in YLE, and speaking as a white Finn on behalf of migrants and minorities in Finland, he states that foreigners would accept getting paid lower salaries and have less comprehensive social welfare.
“It’s good for them [migrants],” he stated. “By the same token, it would let them to move up the [social] ladder and it would not irritate Finns so much [because foreigners have done little to nothing to build the country’s social welfare system that has taken white Finns decades].”
In other words, let’s make discrimination and inequality the standard. Isn’t that how things are run in this country?
As we accept – and do nothing – to promote and make migrants equal members of society, Holmström ensures that their children and grandchildren will continue to live as second-class citizens.
While such claims by Holmström should raise eyebrows, he does us a favor by reinforcing what we’ve always known about this country: Non-discrimination laws in Finland don’t really work and are hypocritical.
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I wonder if Holmström has 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.
Does Holmström know that unemployment on average is 2-3 times higher among migrants than the national average? Does he know that what migrants make in Helsinki is so low that they usually have to turn to financial support to get by?
When it comes to social welfare, and since migrants have lower salaries than Finns, it’s clear their social welfare benefits are lower as well, according to Statistics Finland researcher Pekka Myrskylä.
Myrskylä writes: “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.”
The Statistics Finland researcher stated that the gap in unemployment benefits between migrants and Finns is 39% (15,000 euros versus 9,400 euros) and up to 59% for those who are outside the labor force (7,500 euros versus 3,100 euros).
Finland’s good education system is a lure for migrants. However, many of these students move out of the country after taking a degree.
Holmström states that we should pay migrants less and that they should have worse social welfare benefits. Isn’t that the case today?
His claim, which has a lot of support in Finland, offers migrants and minorities an important warning: If you wait for people like Holmström to improve your lot and to follow the laws of the land when it comes to non-discrimination, you can wait all your life and for many generations for change.
Nobody will do anything for you if you don’t demand change.
Therefore, migrants, and especially minorities, need to raise their voices and speak out against inequality in our society. We must demand to be treated as equal members of society.