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Number of people living in long-term poverty doubles in 20 years

The number of people living in chronic poverty rose from 51,000 to 116,000 during the review period.

Hyvä Arki ry:n ruoanjakelupiste Espoossa.
Espoo residents queue for food aid. Image: Ronnie Holmberg / Yle
Yle News

The number of Finnish residents living in long-term poverty doubled over the 20-year period between 1995 and 2014. That’s according to the findings of an examination of population data from mainland Finland by the VATT Institute for Economic Research.

Researchers Marja Riihelä, Matti Tuomala and Arttu Kauhanen found that during the 20 years under review, Finland’s poor population essentially appeared to have divided into two groups: one group experienced short-term poverty, while for the other group, poverty became prolonged and chronic.

The study defined long-term poverty to include people who lived below the poverty line for a 10-year review period. From 1995 to 2004 about 1.2 percent of the population lived in long-term poverty. During the period 2005 to 2014, that more than doubled to 2.6 percent.

The findings indicate that this represents a rise in the number of people living in chronic poverty from 51,000 to 116,000.

13.7 percent of people living in poverty

The researchers said that it is important to make a distinction between short- and long-term poverty because each requires different political measures. They noted that during the review period, the time that individuals spent living below the poverty line had expanded and become more continuous.

"Reducing poverty has become more difficult as it has become more chronic," said researcher Marja Riihelä said in a statement.

When researchers included the number of people living in short- as well as long-term poverty in 2017, they represented 13.7 percent of the population. The people most at risk of poverty include the unemployed, the self-employed, pensioners and other individuals not directly participating in the job market.

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