Finland as a Growth Environment for the Next Generation

Antti Kääriälä, Markus Keski-Säntti, Mikko Aaltonen, Lotta Haikkola, Tiina Huotari, Ilari Ilmakunnas, Aapo Juutinen, Tomi Kiilakoski, Marko Merikukka, Elina Pekkarinen, Shadia Rask, Tiina Ristikari, Jarmo Salo, Mika Gissler

In Finnish: Suomi seuraavan sukupolven kasvuympäristönä. Seuranta Suomessa vuonna 1997 syntyneistä lapsista, joilla on ulkomailla syntynyt vanhempi

Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). Report 15/2020. 108 pages. Helsinki, Finland 2020. ISBN 978-952-343-582-7 (online publication)


The report ‘Finland as a Growth Environment for the Next Generation’ examines the lives of the children born in Finland in 1997 who had at least one parent who was born abroad. The course of the children’s lives is followed from birth to adulthood, with the subjects grouped according to their parents’ country of birth. The report examines the socio-economic status, health and family relationships of the children’s parents. Multiple aspects of the children’s well-being are examined, including their education, physical and psychological health, child welfare issues and involvement in crime. In addition, attention is given to the geographical distribution of the children’s places of residence both by region and along the urban/rural spectrum, and the features of the children’s residential areas are also examined.

The data was obtained from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s 1997 Finnish Birth Cohort research data, in which data has been collected together from a number of different registers for all persons born in Finland in 1997, covering the whole period from gestation to adulthood. The report is a continuation of a previous follow-up study based on the same data. This previous study examined the entire 1997 birth cohort, but did not separately examine the children of parents born abroad.

Of the children born in Finland in 1997, 5.2% had one parent who was born abroad and 1.7% had parents who were both born abroad. The results of the study indicate that the majority of children in this birth cohort are doing well regardless of whether their parents were born in Finland or abroad. However, not all children within the birth cohort enjoyed to the same extent the positive growth environment and development that was typical to the cohort as a whole. This finding applies both to the children of parents born in Finland and to children whose parents were born abroad. For some parents, their low level of education, income difficulties and health problems caused significant stress in daily life. Some children performed poorly at school, and their educational pathways were discontinued after basic education. With some children, efforts were made to treat mental health and behaviour problems or factors endangering their growth environment and development through specialised medical care and child welfare services.

Despite the similarities, the children of parents born abroad showed some differences from the children of parents born in Finland with regards to the issues and services described above. There were differences that correlated with whether one or both parents were born abroad and with the country the parents were born in. One trend that was evident throughout the whole birth cohort was that factors which put a strain on parenthood, such as parents’ income difficulties, were linked to harmful developmental paths in the child. Children with either one of both parents born abroad more often lived in urban areas and in Uusimaa compared to children of parents born in Finland. The conclusions of the report give consideration to welfare policy measures that could promote the social and economic well-being and education of both parents born abroad and their children as well as the effectiveness of social and health care services.

Keywords: children, young people, family, health, well-being, school, education, crime, child