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Poverty in Finland on rise

Despite the fact that poverty in Finland has been dropping for the past 20 years, a new study from the University of Turku shows that the number of poor in the country is on the rise and the gap between rich and poor is widening.

Nuori odottaa te-palveluita
Young person waiting at an employment office. Finnish text on the floor reads "wait here." File photo. Image: Antti Kolppo / Yle

A new study says that one in ten Finns are poor and that the gap between the very rich and those living in poverty is on the increase. A social policy professor at the University of Turku, Veli-Matti Ritakallio says that those especially hard hit by poverty are families with children, single parents and people who live on their own.

"Money running out a few days before the next payout day is typical for a poor family," Riitakallio says. "Bills remain unpaid and the personal economic situation becomes more difficult to handle."

Also young adults are hit particularly hard, he says.

"In the past young adulthood was seen as an opportunity to get a job, start a family and buy an apartment," he says. "The future seemed appealing. Now, young adulthood is seen as a societal risk."

One reason behind the increase in poverty, Riitakallio says, is the cost of housing.

"In the greater Helsinki area, more than half or a third of poor people’s income goes towards rent," he says.

The University of Turku has examined poverty levels in Finland every five years since 1995.

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