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Students, jobseekers most at risk of poverty in Finland

Of those looking for work for at least half of a calendar year, 39 percent were seen as at risk of poverty.

Remontti Hoasin opiskelija-asunnoissa Kivikossa.
Units owned by the Foundation for Student Housing in the Helsinki Region (HOAS). Image: Kari Ahotupa / Yle

Nearly four out of 10 long-term jobseekers and a third of students are at risk of poverty in Finland, suggests a study released on Friday.

The data published by Statistics Finland dates back to 2017. The agency says that about 39 percent of people who were jobless for at least half the year were households considered to be "at risk of poverty". The same was true for some 31 percent of adult students.

The central statistics office's long-term data from the past three decades shows a growing gap between various population groups in the rate of poverty risk, especially since the severe recession of the 1990s. It says that wage-earners are now "very rarely at risk of poverty".

Students living solo most at risk

About half of students lived in households with wage-earners, typically parents or spouses, and these were at lower risk of poverty. Overall, about one fifth lived alone and an equal number with a spouse or partner. However half of low-income students lived alone.

Among those aged 18-24, nearly 28 percent lived in low-income households. Two thirds of low-income young adults were students, while 87 percent had moved away from their family homes.

Overall in this age group, roughly 40 percent still lived with parents or guardians, with 60 percent basically responsible for their own finances. Those living independently were five times as likely to be low-income than those still residing at home.

Ex-farmers most at risk of retirement poverty

The risk of poverty among the nation's nearly 1.4 million pensioners also varies. Almost half are former salaried employees, who are rarely at risk of poverty.

Among former lower-level employees, more than eight percent are at risk of poverty. The highest risk of poverty, around 38 percent, is among retired farmers.

As Statistics Finland defines it, a household is at risk of poverty if its disposable monetary income per ‘consumption unit’ – i.e. resident – averages less than 60 percent of the national median income.

In 2017, the at-risk-of-poverty threshold for a one-person household was 14,750 euros per year, or 1,230 euros per month after taxes.

Since the turn of the millennium, less than one fifth of those in risk households were in the highest-risk group, having income under 40 percent of the median.

In 2017, that 'poverty line' for individual disposable monetary income was 9,830 euros a year or 820 euros a month per month.

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