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Friday’s papers: Economic surprise, satisfied Finns and fur farming

Positive stories dominate the news on one of the darkest days of the year in Finland.

Nainen ulkoilee meren rannalla.
Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

On Black Friday, one of the greyest days of the year in Finland, the media explores bright spots in the economy and Finns' high life satisfaction.

Finland’s economy experienced a surprising third-quarter uptick, says business daily Kauppalehti, citing new figures from national number cruncher Statistics Finland.

Compared to the same period one year earlier, gross domestic product grew by 2.2 percent.

Exports were also up by 5.3 percent from the same time in 2018.

Responding to the encouraging figures, Nordea economist Olli Kärkkäinen tweeted that private consumption was the main growth driver. He speculated that the earlier payout of tax refunds could partially explain the sudden jump.

Satisfaction vs joy

It’s cold, wet and dark but Helsingin Sanomat reports that Finns’ are the most satisfied people in the EU, according to a fresh Eurostat poll that surveyed people on their subjective well-being. Austria, Denmark and Poland also topped the ranking, whereas residents of Lithuania, Croatia and Bulgaria were the least satisfied with their lot in life.

Finnish studies have also found that residents are increasingly pleased with their life.

Philosopher Frank Martela said the results reflected the social security afforded by the Finnish welfare state.

“Satisfaction is an indicator of how well the state functions and whether there’s a safety net in times of crisis. Finland’s high ranking doesn’t mean that people are fully satisfied, but that there are fewer less satisfied people.”

Martela added that joy is something completely different from satisfaction. When it comes to perceived joyfulness, Finland generally draws an average score.

Fur farming's future

Animal rights campaigners often ramp up messaging ahead of the festive season to highlight animal suffering in Christmas dinners.

Now animal rights groups Animalia and Oikeutta eläimille have put out a study that says 36 percent of Finns are prepared to ban fur farming if the state helps transition producers into new careers. A slightly greater number—38 percent—said fur farming could continue if animals had better conditions.

Heidi Kivekäs, the director of Animalia, said policies in other countries to improve animal welfare have led to many fur farms closing down as these changes led to businesses becoming less viable.

Some 1,000 people in Finland responded to the survey which was carried out by Taloustutkimus.

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