Skip to content

Study reveals regional pay gaps in social and healthcare

Researchers found significant differences between pay for health and social workers in various parts of the country.

Nurses are paid less in Helsinki and Uusimaa while medical specialists receive higher salaries than elsewhere (file photo). Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Public-sector social and healthcare workers in Eastern Uusimaa are Finland's highest-paid, according to a study by a state-owned think tank. The VATT Institute for Economic Research published its report on regional pay gaps in the health and social services sector on Friday.

Researchers found significant differences between pay for employees in various parts of the country. The lowest average salaries are in the South Savo wellbeing services county, which includes Mikkeli, Savonlinna and Pieksämäki.

The new wellbeing services counties begin operations early next year as part of the overhaul of health, social and rescue services known as sote. The reform is aimed at ensuring the same standards and levels of care everywhere while cutting administrative costs.

Pay gaps may undermine 'sote' reform

However, pay gaps between various counties will make it harder to achieve these goals, VATT researchers said.

Pay gaps between various regions are as high as six percent, which causes significant differences in the cost of service production, the institute said.

The wellbeing services county with the highest average pay, East Uusimaa, includes the cities of Porvoo and Loviisa and five smaller municipalities including Sipoo, just east of Helsinki.

VATT said that the government will use the study as part of efforts to improve the funding model of the counties.

Researchers looked at salaries paid to 460,000 people around Finland. They found that Kymenlaakso in the southeast was closest to the national average.

“Since labour costs account for 69 percent of social and healthcare services’ 20-billion-euro production costs, pay gaps may result in significant differences in the price of service production in different counties,” said chief researcher Teemu Lyytikäinen.

Helsinki, Uusimaa pay less for basic healthcare, more for specialists and social services

The study also compared pay for various subsectors within the overall health and social services branch. This indicated that the lowest pay for basic healthcare personnel was in Helsinki, which is not part of a wellbeing service county, but will continue to provide its own services as before.

“With the exception of Pirkanmaa, basic healthcare personnel receive higher salaries in every other county than Helsinki. Salaries in Helsinki lag roughly six percent behind Eastern Uusimaa and Lapland,” said Lyytikäinen.

He noted that this was linked to the availability of basic healthcare personnel outside of the Helsinki region, where local authorities have had to entice workers with higher pay and more overtime.

In contrast, specialists' salaries are highest in Helsinki and the adjacent Uusimaa county.

VATT also found significant pay gaps in social services, with Helsinki and Uusimaa offering the highest hourly wages for eldercare and other social assistance, with the rest of the country lagging by up to four percent.