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Study: Less than fifth come to Finland for work, more than half for love

A new study by Statistics Finland shows that more than half of people to have moved to Finland from abroad came here because of a romantic relationship or family reasons. About 10 percent of immigrants come to study, and a similar number come as refugees. The study is the first of its kind in the country.

Koristesydämiä roikkuu narussa.
Love is mentioned more often than almost any other reason for moving to Finland, a groundbreaking study finds. Image: Minna Heikura / Yle

A study published on Thursday by Statistics Finland shows that more than half of people to have moved to Finland from another country cite family or a personal relationship as their main motivation. The study is the first of its kind, as for the first time the results include people who have moved to Finland from another EU country. Previously statistics have been gathered based on work permits granted to non-EU nationals.

Less than a fifth of those surveyed said they had come seeking employment, and every tenth said they came to study. Some 10 percent of respondents had refugee backgrounds.

The 8 percent who cited reasons other than the above included motivations ranging from people getting to know their Finnish roots and tourists who came on vacation and then never left.


Women top men in coming for family, most comers in capital region

Women interviewed for the study mentioned family as the main reason for their immigration more often than men. Two thirds of women said they had come for family or for love, while the figure for men is just under a half.

24 percent of those who claimed family as their reason had arrived in the country at age 15 or under, while 47 percent of adult immigrants put family at the top of their list.

The number of people with an immigrant background varies greatly depending on location. Almost half of those coming from abroad live in the capital region municipalities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa. Every fourth foreigners lives elsewhere in Southern Finland. The north and east, meanwhile, are home to just ten percent of Finland's foreign residents.

Only Estonians surveyed in 2014 bucked the trend of family or love being the top reason for moving to Finland. More people from Estonia came for work than for love.

Those arriving from North Africa or the Middle East mention safety as a top reason almost as often as family or love. Those from elsewhere in Africa and immigrants from Asian countries cite studying as the main reason. Refugees, on the other hand, come most often from Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iran.

Immigrants asked reasons for the first time

The statistical study on the employment and welfare of people from abroad represents 15 to 64-year-olds who lived in Finland permanently in 2014 and who were born outside of Finland. More than 3,200 people were interviewed in 12 different languages.

The grouping also included second generation immigrants, meaning people who were born in Finland but whose parents were born in another country, and Finnish citizens. The length of time the interviewed people had spent in Finland ranged from a short while to more than ten years.

Asylum-seekers who have arrived in 2015 were not yet represented in the study at hand.

The Statistics Finland study is the first of its kind, as it allowed people of foreign descent living in Finland to personally respond to queries on the reasons for their moving. The study also included statistics on immigrants from EU and EFTA countries; people from such countries do not need a residence permit and so information on their motives for moving have not been known.

The survey on work and wellbeing among among persons of foreign origin was funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy and the EU's fund for the integration of third-country nationals.

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