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Finland’s high earners saw bigger income boost than mid, low earners in 2017

Income differences between high and middle or low earners were largest in the Helsinki region, data show.

Rypistyneitä viiden euron seteleitä ja 20 sentin kolikko.
Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Finland’s high earners saw their real income grow more in 2017 than their peers in middle and low income groups, according to new data released by Statistics Finland on Tuesday.

Incomes among the country’s highest income decile rose by 4.4 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, while the year-on-year increase was 1.3 percent for middle income earners.

Incomes for the four lowest income deciles meanwhile grew by 1.2 percent over the one-year period. However among earners in the lowest income decile, the change was 2.2 percent between 2016 and 2017.

The data show that in 2017, the average annual income for the lowest-earning decile in Finland was roughly 10,820 euros per person. By comparison, average annual incomes among the highest-earning decile last year was six times that of the lowest earners at 66,100 euros per person. The median annual income last year was 24, 860 or just over 2,000 euros a month.

According to the state data trackers, the Gini coefficient, which describes the relative income differentials, stood at 27.7 in 2017 up 0.5 percentage points from 2016. The higher the Gini coefficient, the bigger the relative income disparity. Statistics Finland said that the measure was almost the same as in 2010 and noted that income differentials have been at their lowest since the 1980s.

Smallest income disparities in northeast

Regional differences show that income disparities were greatest in the Helsinki region while they were smallest in areas such as Haapavesi and Siikalatva in Northern Ostrobothnia as well as many parts of northeast Finland.

At the beginning of the year Prime Minister Juha Sipilä admitted that he expected income differences to grow in 2017, given the surprisingly rapid pace of economic growth. "When the economy expands quickly then income difference will also increase," Sipilä told the Parliament in February.

A report published earlier this year indicated that the Sipilä administration's economic policies may not have contributed to increased income disparity if the impact of employment is taken into account.

However in that report, Jussi Tervola, research chief at the national public health watchdog THL and Nordea economist Olli Kärkkäinen said that without the employment effect, income differences would have grown.

This autumn Tervola told the news agency STT that working people in particular benefited from government policy, while people dependent on benefits did not gain as much.

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