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Think tank: Home care allowance linked to lower employment among migrant women

Women who move to Finland are less likely to find work than those who move to Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

Studies have shown that integration plans help to improve the academic success of immigrant children, Eva's report said. Image: Petteri Bülow / Yle

Weak employment prospects for female immigrants in Finland can have a knock-on effect on their children’s professional careers, according to a report by the business think tank Finnish Business and Policy Forum (Eva).

"The low employment rate of immigrant women is a problem that has far-reaching negative effects on society as a whole," the report stated, and highlighted the country's home care allowance, which allows a child to be cared for at home until the age of three.

Eva says the benefit is a factor in the lower employment rate of mothers compared to other Nordic nations like Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

The low employment rate of women who move to Finland also weakens their integration into society and stresses public finance coffers, according to Eva.

"Finland's passive unemployment benefit and home care allowance seem to be the reasons for the particularly low employment of immigrant women compared to other Nordic countries," Eva's economist Sanna Kurronen wrote in Eva's report Maahanmuuttajanaisten loukku (The Trap for Immigrant Women).

Eva also noted that while about 70 percent of participants in employment training programs in Sweden and Denmark subsequently found either a salaried or wage-subsidised position, the rate in Finland was only 35 percent.

Kurronen added that the child home care allowance was "particularly problematic" as mothers with immigrant backgrounds tend to use the benefit more often and for longer than the native population.

The other Nordic nations do not offer the same level or length of allowance to stay-at-home parents.

The report found that employment rates were especially low among mothers from Russia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, China and Vietnam. Women who move to Finland from other Nordic countries or the EU, however, were found to have a significantly higher employment rate.

Integration plan helps children

In the report, Eva further argued that in addition to the abolition of home care allowance, other means should be used to improve the employment of immigrant women. For example, an integration plan has been shown to improve the academic performance of migrant children, the report added.

Integration policies could also help to guide more women into working life. Eva’s report cited studies that have shown how private sector wage subsidies are a viable employment measure for immigrants.

"Finnish society is based on the fact that all able-bodied adults work. Immigrants cannot be an exception," Kurronen wrote.