Kela’s Info TraySkip to content

Kela’s Research Programme for 2023–2025

Published 8.12.2022

Kela’s Research Unit carries out topical and multidisciplinary research on issues that are relevant domestically and internationally. We produce research findings that have an impact and can be utilised by society in developing social and health security.

Kela is required by law to carry out research. Our three-year research programme describes and directs what kinds of subject matter will be emphasised in our research activities on those issues related to social security that we have identified as important.

Our values are

  • reliability
  • effectiveness
  • capacity for cooperation.

We produce independent, multidisciplinary and scientifically high-quality research and participate actively in public policy discourse.

In the programme period 2023–2025, we will be collaborating especially with the wellbeing services counties and municipalities. We will be invested in cooperating closely with domestic and international research partners.

We look for answers to the questions of today

Our research programme is founded upon our traditional strengths in social and health security. In addition to our long-term research agenda, we produce and interpret findings for society’s current needs on an expedited basis if needed.

Our research supports Kela’s 2022 updated strategy, which emphasises the production of customer insight data and the development of service processes for different customer groups.

Our research and expertise also provide support to the development of the services of the wellbeing services counties and knowledge-based management, and they contribute to the work of the committee preparing a comprehensive reform of the social security system. We produce information for the preliminary assessment of legislative changes and reforms and for monitoring their impact.

Sustainable and innovative social and health security – Our goal is the wellbeing of both individuals and communities

In all our research projects, our goal is to produce data that supports the wellbeing of individuals in society.

Building on our nearly 60 years of research experience, we produce findings that can be used to develop a more equitable and just society and a more sustainable and innovative system of social and health security. We produce data especially for the purpose of promoting employment and inclusion.

In our research programme, we acknowledge the existence of megatrends, some of the most essential examples of which are

  • population ageing and demographic shift
  • resource scarcity
  • regional disparities and the growth of cities.

Transformations in work and technology, social crises, climate change, biodiversity loss, multiculturalism, and the diversity of families and households also challenge our researchers.

We analyse diverse sets of data

Our main source of data is Kela’s benefit register, which we combine with other register-based data sources. In addition, we gather information with surveys and interviews.

We look for innovative study designs, methods, and approaches. We make an effort to analyse more and more comprehensive and diversified sets of data, which helps in grasping the full breadth of the benefits and services system facing customers.

We follow the principles of open science

We follow the principles enshrined in the Declaration for Open Science and Research.

We recommend that research results be published in a way that makes them immediately accessible to all, free of charge and in their entirety. We also recommend providing open access to data and methods.

The focus areas of our research

Our research topics are divided by theme into specific focus areas in which we carry out both long-term research projects and quick analyses of current topics.

During the research programme period 2023–2025, we will do research in three focus areas, which are

  • shared customers
  • security of livelihood in various life situations
  • functional capacity, work ability, and rehabilitation.

Some of the topics are related to more than one focus area.

Shared customers

The Kela Research Unit carries out research on social and health policy and wellbeing.

We study customer relationships and customers, as well as the combined whole of multichannel funding and the social security system, especially in the wellbeing services counties. We study the implementation of Kela’s policies and service packages aimed at customers.

We also predict changes in our operational environment. We study the impact that technological change has on the use of digital services and benefits and the allocation of benefits, for example.

We study how the system of benefits and services supports families with children, young people, those of working age and the elderly, as well as customers in vulnerable positions or difficult situations, and we also study how well it recognises the diversity of families.

The key research themes concerning the medical insurance system include medicine and travel costs as well as private services reimbursed by Kela. We do research on student and occupational health care also.

Security of livelihood in various life situations

We study the whole of people’s livelihood: how work income, social security benefits and expenses combine to provide subsistence for people in different life situations and how the benefit system functions in times of change in society or an individual’s personal life.

We study the functioning and levels of minimum security, for example the use, sufficiency and development of basic social assistance and general housing allowance.

The COVID-19 pandemic, energy crisis and rising costs of living have put the functioning of social security to the test. We generate research findings on the effects that these sudden social changes have on people’s livelihoods and the use of benefits.

We study how livelihood is formed from the combination of income from both work and benefits, observe the simultaneous use of different benefits, and investigate how the benefits system functions to stabilise shifts in work income.

We examine the construction of livelihood for different population groups, such as families with children, people living alone, and those of retirement age. During the new research programme period, we will also continue with our evaluations of different reforms such as the basic income experiment and family leave reform.  

Functional capacity, work ability and rehabilitation

The key research topics of this focus area are the use of benefits and services related to a person’s ability to work, study and function, changes in the use of these benefits, and differences between population groups and regions.

We study changes in the service system as well as in disability and rehabilitation legislation and the impact these changes has on customers and other actors, and how they affect the number of recipients of benefits. We produce insights about the implementation and effectiveness of rehabilitation services and benefits; we are particularly interested in how rehabilitation services and cash benefits can be utilised in improving the functional capacity, work ability and rehabilitation of customers of different ages and circumstances.

We examine the processes surrounding disability and look for ways to prevent and shorten incapacity for work and sick leaves. In our research we also consider the perspective of families and caregiving by looking at the effect family leave can have on the health and wellbeing of parents and children, for example.

Themes that cut across our research activities

In each focus area and their respective research projects we take into account a number of appropriate, cross-cutting themes.

Customer perspective and improving implementation

Kela’s strategy emphasises trust in the customer and an ever deeper understanding of our customers’ needs.

The first cross-cutting theme for our research is customer perspective, and this also includes improving the implementation of Kela’s benefits and services. For example, during the new research programme period we will launch a customer research programme that was previously in the works.


The next cross-cutting theme is effectiveness. We are involved with researching and developing Kela’s benefits and new service models, and we also produce findings and estimates on their effectiveness.

The Impact of Rehabilitation research programme will continue in the research period, and our goal is to also get started with evaluations of the effectiveness of occupational and student healthcare, among others.

We utilise simulation and calculation models as support for decision-making. We also carry out effectiveness assessments of social security reforms. We will continue working with the themes of rational prescribing and pharmaceutical treatment.

Inequality and equality

The third cross-cutting theme is inequality and equality. In several of our studies we investigate variation in the use of benefits and services and the realisation of rights between population groups divided by socio-economic status, gender, and other differences.

Our goal is to support the construction of an equitable social security system.

Sustainable wellbeing

The fourth cross-cutting theme is sustainable wellbeing. The scarcity of natural and economic resources, climate change and loss of biodiversity have a wide range of effects on social development, and they also challenge social security to contribute to the green transition.

We aim to consider the perspective of sustainable wellbeing more than before in our research projects.

Social security and service system reforms

The fifth cross-cutting theme includes responding to the information needs presented by the various reforms in social security and service systems, monitoring the reforms, and evaluating their effects.

The reforms we monitor and support with research insights include

  • the social security reform
  • the health and social services reform and the accompanying transfer of responsibility for organising social and health services to the wellbeing services counties
  • the family leave reform
  • the reform of responsibility for financing and organising student healthcare
  • the pharmaceutical services reform
  • changes in benefits prompted by sudden crises, such as the assistance with electricity costs that was introduced in order to control the effects of the energy crisis on people’s subsistence.

Share this article

Share page to Twitter Share page to Facebook Share page to LinkedIn