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Finns no longer believe they live in an equal society, study claims

Researchers say they are surprised by preliminary results of a social attitudes survey, which suggests a departure from the traditional view of Finland as a haven of equality and respect for rights.

Ihmiset leipäjonossa Helsingin Myllypurossa.
Image: Yle

Researchers studying social attitudes in Finland say they have been surprised to find that as many as half of respondents to a new poll do not believe that the country has an equal society.

A study into perceptions of security and equality, carried out by the Finnish National Rescue Association, SPEK, saw 3,000 people questioned about their views on equality and the respect of rights in Finland, as well as their concern over various threats.

The preliminary results of the study, funded by the Prime Minister’s Office, mark a departure from the traditional view of Finland as a haven of equality with little marginalisation.

Security threat

”It was indeed surprising that so many people answered in that way,” said SPEK’s Head of Research and Development, Teija Mankkinen. 

”It’s not good at all from a security point of view. It means that citizens do not feel equal, that inequality is growing… This is something that should awaken concerns from a security perspective,” she said.

The survey also revealed that the most-feared threat to Finnish security, cited by over half of respondents, is a drawn-out economic recession.

The poll, carried out before April’s election, also asked about the government’s domestic policy, which one third of respondents described as bogged down by decision-making problems.

One in five said they were concerned about the government’s foreign policy, with a similar amount expressing concerns about terrorism. This was considered a larger threat than, for instance, an influx of refugees, or a weather-related disaster.

Generally confident

The potential crises that least worried respondents were the outbreak of war, a serious epidemic or an environmental catastrophe.

The majority of people surveyed said they are generally confident regarding the future. But Mankkinen says some responses gave her pause for thought.

”I believe that social phenomena such as these develop over a longer period, and are about bigger questions than any single government or election.”

MPs were also questioned about their views of security, although only six out of 200 responded to the researchers’ email questionnaire.

The research will be officially published in autumn, and the researchers say they hope their study will give decision-makers a better insight into the security concerns of Finland’s citizens.

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