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400-page research report: "Finland has a mental sustainability gap"

According to the much-anticipated research report co-authored by philosopher-consultant Pekka Himanen, Finland’s mental sustainability gap is a greater problem than its economic and social welfare sustainability gaps. The 700,000-euro report was released today to much fanfare and an introductory speech by Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, and seeks to move Finland toward a national culture that values the individual.

Professori Pekka Himanen ja pääministeri Jyrki Katainen Helsingin Säätytalolla torstaina 7. marraskuuta 2013.
Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen opened the event at which the research report co-authored by Pekka Himanen was launched in Helsinki Thursday. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

The report team concluded that Finland’s problems are closely linked to its current culture of creativity and social welfare. The team found that in particular, Finland is dominated by an atmosphere of fear and envy, where failure is seen as personal disgrace and where people don’t celebrate the success of others.

Apart from the country’s cultural and economic problems, the overall negative attitude to immigration is highlighted as a setback for Finland, more so since the phenomenon has taken hold in other political parties since it boosted the profile and support of the immigrant-skeptical Finns Party in the last general election.

On the other hand Finland’s culture of trust and honesty was seen as a great national advantage, and a vehicle for possible change.

Reforms needed in social welfare model

The report calls on Finland to urgently revise its social welfare model, since the current system no longer works and would not be viable in 2030, given that one-third of today’s over-15 year olds will then be retirees.

The researchers recommend that reforms be implemented so that everyone would benefit from the entire system. So far no reforms have made a difference because all stakeholders are protecting their own interests, they noted.

“The alternatives are politicisation or joint success,” the report declared.

The extensive paper calls for restructuring of almost all of the major elements of the welfare society: Finland should transition from plugging holes to promoting wellbeing; from reactive to proactive programmes, towards treating people as subjects rather than objects, to view and manage social welfare in its entirety and to move towards a more participatory society.

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