Youth Barometer 2014. Youth with human dignity

Sami Myllyniemi (ed.)

The Youth Barometer is a series of publications studying the values and attitudes of young people aged 15 to 29 living in Finland. It has been implemented annually since 1994. The 2014 Youth Barometer is based on 1,903 telephone interviews, and its theme is equality and discrimination.

According to young people, discrimination means, above all, unequal treatment of people. Almost all of them (95%) regard it as discrimination if, due to their ethnic background, a person is not served in a restaurant or does not get a job he or she is otherwise qualified for. Three out of four young people regard it as discrimination that same-sex couples cannot marry. However, especially boys do not find that the more structural inequalities in society are particularly discriminatory, such as the fact that those who are financially better off generally live longer than those with a lower income.
As many as 85% of the respondents had noticed discrimination against young people over the past 12 months. The media seems to be the most common arena for youth discrimination. It is also common to observe discrimination against young people at work (43%) and at school (37%), as well as in places where young people like to hang around, such as in shopping centres, streets, cafés or bars.

The most common forms of discrimination against young people include belittling or underestimating (observed by 72%), ridiculing and name-calling (68%), and excluding a person from the group (65%). Half of young people have noticed a threat of violence and one in three actual physical violence. Of the more structural forms of discrimination, 35% have noticed inaccessibility or discrimination in facilities or services and 31% in getting a job, receiving services, gaining positions of trust, etc.

The majority (55%) of all young people find that they have been discriminated against at some stage in their lives, and 30% of them consider this discrimination to be continuous in nature. Most victims of discrimination refer to experiences of discrimination that have taken place a relatively long time ago. Only 4% of all young people told that they are currently being discriminated against, 13% over the past 12 months.

Just under one in three (31%) of all young people admit that they are involved in the discrimination of other people. Those with no personal experience of discrimination either as a discriminator or a victim of discrimination account for 37% of the respondents. Those you have experienced personal discrimination account for as many as 32% and those who have been involved in the discrimination of others constitute 8% of the respondents. According to the questionnaire, 23% of young people have either discriminated against others or been discriminated against. Therefore, it seems to be the same young people who are often both victims and perpetrators.

Young people with an immigrant background have experienced somewhat more discrimination than those of the original population: especially being discriminated against is more common.  Being part of any kind of minority is strongly related to experiences of discrimination. Appearance in particular is a factor in discrimination: this would apply especially to girls and to young people under the age of 20. All in all, girls are more susceptible to discrimination than boys, but gender-based discrimination in particular is more common: 5% of boys and as many as 18% of girls find that they have been discriminated against due to their gender.

Less than 2% of young people classified as Finnish-speaking members of the original population and as many as over 10% of young Swedish-speaking Finns find that they have been discriminated against due to their ethnic background. One in five of the second-generation immigrants and one in three of first-generation immigrants say that they have experienced discrimination due to their ethnic background.

The share of those who have been discriminated against due to their sexual orientation (4%) and sexual identity or gender expression (4%) must be proportioned to the size of sexual minorities. A total of 20% of boys and 33% of girls belonging to a minority due to their sexual orientation said they were discriminated against for their orientation. The majority of girls with a strong minority experience related to their sexual orientation have been discriminated against due to their orientation.

When examining the places and situations of discrimination, the school is in a class of its own. Of all young people, 43% have been discriminated against at school, and as many as 77% of young people who have been discriminated against have been victims of discrimination specifically at school. Discrimination is more common in comprehensive schools and upper secondary vocational institutions and less common in upper secondary schools and universities.

A young person’s foreign background increases the risk of being discriminated against and the likelihood of observing discrimination. On the one hand, discrimination experienced by people with an immigrant background often occurs in informal ‘hang out’ places during leisure time but, on the other hand, first-generation immigrants in particular have also experienced more discrimination than others in finding accommodation and in their treatment by the authorities.

Young people who have been victims of discrimination are clearly less trusting of other people, they have a more pessimistic attitude towards the future, and their belief in their own abilities and opportunities to make an impact on their own lives is weaker. Victims of discrimination feel more insecure than other young people, especially in relation to their own social exclusion and loneliness. They have fewer close friends than others, they meet their friends less often, and they are less happy about their relationships. Victims of discrimination have more medical symptoms that occur on a regular basis and, on average, they are less satisfied with their state of health and life in general. Therefore, young people’s experiences of discrimination are strongly connected to many indicators of mental ill health.

Summary in English is available free of charge from the website: (39 pages)