ESPN Thematic Report on Progress in the Implementation of the 2013 EU Recommendation on “Investing in children: Breaking the Cycle of Disadvantage”: Finland
The Finnish combination of universal and targeted services and income transfers has been effective in combatting child poverty and social exclusion. When it comes to children, the country is one of the top performers according to official EU (EU-SILC) measures of poverty, exclusion and deprivation (AROP, AROPE and SMD). Finnish legislation provides children with strong rights to express their opinions and to be recognized. All these results are in line with the EU Recommendation on investing in children. Therefore, the Recommendation does not play an important role in Finnish social policy-making. A wide variety of measures supporting parents’ participation in the labour market are available: the subjective right to daycare, part-time care, flexible care, and temporary care leave. Despite the right to daycare for children, however, Finland has some problems meeting the EU Recommendation in respect of the share of children enrolled in organized daycare. The explanation is that the ‘home care allowance’ (HCA), a cash-for-care benefit, reduces the utilization of daycare. The use of the HCA is correlated with education (parents with lower education use the HCA longer than well-educated parents); labour market attachment (those with weak attachment use it longer) and family status (single mothers use it longer than mothers with spouses). Since part-time employment is not that common in Finland, mothers either take care of their children at home or are employed full time. Consequently, the aim of giving all children equal early educational possibilities is not totally fulfilled. The 2014 pre-primary education reform that made preschool mandatory for all 6-year-old children partially repaired the deficit.
Recommendation: introduce mandatory (part-time) early education for all children in the 3-5 age bracket.
In Finland, pupils’ skills are less linked to parents’ education and socio-economic position than in most other countries included in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). However, fiscal consolidation, the increasing number of pupils in classrooms, and savings in special education and training may create problems in the long run.
Recommendation: strengthen the social investment paradigm through adequate investments in early and primary education, with special emphasis on children in need and immigrant children to combat intergenerational transmission of disadvantage.
The share of youngsters who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) has increased during the last decade. In addition to existing measures to improve labour market inclusion, new and innovative measures are needed.
Recommendation: start experiments with ‘participatory social policy’, i.e. tailored activation programmes targeted at NEET youngsters.
The real value of minimum social benefits has decreased, and lags behind the 60% poverty line. The European Committee of Social Rights published a decision on 9 May 2017 criticizing the insufficient level of Finnish minimum social benefits.
Recommendation: the government should adopt measures to improve minimum benefit levels.
In Finland, the whole social/healthcare sector is going through a process of reform. It is important to evaluate how new laws such as the Social Welfare Act, as well as other parts of the ongoing reform, will affect the ability to effectively administer and coordinate measures taken at different administrative levels (municipalities, the newly created counties, and central government) to combat all forms of child poverty and exclusion.
Olli Kangas, Laura Kalliomaa-Puha
- Vertaisarvioitu: ei.
- Avoin saatavuus: kyllä.
- Koko viite: Kangas, O., & Kalliomaa-Puha, L. (2017). ESPN Thematic Report on Progress in the Implementation of the 2013 EU Recommendation on “Investing in children: Breaking the Cycle of Disadvantage”: Finland. European Commission.