Differences Between The Employment of Different Immigrant Groups Are Large in Finland, A Study Reveals

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Picture: Karoliina Paatos / ETK

The differences between the employment of different groups of immigrants are large, reveals a new study. For example, female immigrants from the Middle East or Somalia have been employed for the least amount of time while young male immigrants from Estonia have spent the most time in employment.

This is evident from the unique register study that focused on the working lives of people who immigrated to Finland in 1995-1996, 2000-2001 and 2005-2006. The study was conducted by the Pellervo Economic Research Institute, and the data is based on register data of the Finnish Centre for Pensions and Statistics Finland. It includes 58,000 immigrants and contains their working life history until 2013. The study provides, for the first time, an overall picture of the working lives of immigrants who arrived in Finland in the 1990s and the 2000s.

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According to the study, immigrants are employed for approximately 40 percent of the time they spend in the country. The time in employment differs clearly based on gender, age, year of immigration and home country.

The employment of immigrants has, however, improved considerably since the 1990s

The employment of immigrants has, however, improved considerably since the 1990s, the study reveals. While those who came to Finland in 1995-1996 spent less than one year in employment during their first four years in the country, those who immigrated in 2005-2006 have had a working life that is twice as long. At the same time, the group of people immigrating to Finland has also changed.

Immigrants from Estonia and Southern and Western Europe have been most successful in finding employment. The shortest working lives can be found among immigrants from the Middle East and Somalia. Most of them have come to Finland for humanitarian reasons.

After four years in the country, immigrants from Estonia and Southern and Western Europe have been employed for an average of two years. Those from the Middle East and Somalia, on the other hand, have been working for about six months.

Traditional gender roles reduce women’s time spent in employment.

Immigrants who have been in the country for a longer period of time and who have an education have a better chance of getting employed and of spending more time in employment. Traditional gender roles reduce women’s time spent in employment.

“Female immigrants start a family at a younger age and take care of their children at home for a longer period of time than do the women of the majority population. Half of the female immigrants have not been working at all during their first four years in the country,” said Henna Busk, an economist at the Pellervo Economic Research Institute, in a bulletin.

The working lives and earnings of immigrants are clearly shorter and smaller than those of native Finns. As a result, immigrants will collect only a small earnings-related pension. Older immigrants and female immigrants, in particular, run a greater risk of having to rely on basic security in retirement.

For example, after eight years in the country, the median annual income for female immigrants was less than 11,000 euros. For male immigrants, it was about 19,000 euros. “We should improve the employment opportunities for female immigrants. Otherwise, their employment rates will remain weak and their income in retirement low,” said Signe Jauhiainen, the research director at Pellervo Economic Research Institute.