100 years of the Ministry of social Affairs and Health

About a month before Finland gained its independence in 1917, the handling of social matters was transferred from the Senate’s administrative department for trade and industry to a new administrative department for social matters. The duties of the administrative department for social matters included, for example, poor relief, social insurance and promotion of sobriety.

A decree on the administrative department for social matters was issued on 8 November 1917. The modern Finnish social administration was thus launched.

Through a multi-stage development process, the administrative department for social matters finally became the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. This 100 years old Ministry has lots of experience and  is therefore very well prepared to respond to the changes to come.

Forward together

Thanks to the long-term health and social policy work, Finns have these days more healthy years of life than ever before.

The changing population age structure and the increasing pressures on public finances also affect the health and social policy. Structures will be reformed but they will not be wrecked.

The essence of our work remains unchanged: a socially sustainable Finland that promotes health, wellbeing and social inclusion, and offers the security and services needed.

Watch video about achievements of MSAH during Finland's independence

100 years of the Ministry of social Affairs and Health - 100 years of Finnish social and health policy 1917-2017. The information in the picture is in the text after the image.

100 years of Finnish social and health policy 1917–2017


From poor relief to central government

  • Poor relief
  • Temperance work
  • Elimination of poverty
  • Employee protection
  • Mental treatment
  • 1917 An independent Social Administrative Department is established.
  • 1918 The National Board of Social Welfare is established.
  • 1918 The Social Administrative Department becomes the Ministry of Social Affairs.
  • 1918 Eight-hour working day
  • 1919 Prohibition


Serving the poor and working people

  • Child welfare
  • Social conditions of workers
  • Old people’s homes
  • National Board of Health
  • Care of lunatics
  • 1922 Ministry of Social Affairs in charge of all social administration.
  • 1922 Prohibition tightens
  • 1922 Poor Relief Act


Social insurance system gives security

  • National pension
  • Workhouses
  • Depression
  • Vagabonds
  • Social work
  • Beggars
  • 1936 Child Welfare Act
  • 1936 Act on Alcoholics
  • 1936 Vagrancy Act


From wartime to reconstruction

  • Maternity and child health clinics
  • War reparations
  • Care of disabled people
  • Child allowance
  • Maternity packs
  • Act on Tuberculosis
  • Care of disabled war veterans
  • Baby-boom generation
  • 1948 Military Injuries Act
  • 1948 Child benefit is introduced
  • 1948 Act on Tuberculosis
  • 1949 Maternity Allowance Act


Construction of the welfare state begins

  • Municipal social welfare services
  • Hospitals
  • Temperance writing competitions
  • Municipal medical officers
  • Act on Mental Disease
  • 1956 National pension system reform, equalisation system
  • 1957 Social Allowance Act


Welfare state becomes established

  • Earnings-related pension system
  • Dental care
  • Health insurance
  • Act on General Municipal Hospitals
  • Social welfare and healthcare
  • National Board of Social Welfare
  • 1962 Earnings-related pension acts enter into force
  • 1963 National Health Insurance Act
  • 1968 The Ministry renamed as Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. Research department established, healthcare under the Ministry’s remit


Stronger municipal social welfare and healthcare

  • Occupational healthcare
  • Health centres
  • Primary healthcare
  • Child day care
  • Health education
  • 1972 Primary Health Care Act: first health centres, improved dental care
  • 1976 Tobacco Act


Decade of growth

  • Social Welfare Act
  • Services
  • Planning
  • Child maintenance
  • Elderly care
  • Home services
  • Ombudsman for Equality
  • Reform of the central government grants system
  • 1982 Social Welfare Act
  • 1987 Gender Equality Act


Recession and internationalisation

  • Depression
  • Unemployment
  • Preparations for demographic changes
  • Social exclusion
  • Developments in social welfare and healthcare
  • Social security cuts and reforms
  • 1991 Rehabilitation legislation: more versatile rehabilitation
  • 1995 Consolidation of national and EU health and social policies


Time of demographic change

  • Pension reform
  • Prevention
  • Restructuring of municipalities and services
  • Social exclusion
  • Food safety
  • Health promotion
  • National development of social welfare and healthcare
  • 2005 Maximum waiting times are introduced
  • 2005 Earnings-related pension reform continues


Decade of the health and social services reform

  • Need for savings and cuts
  • Health and social services reform
  • Migration
  • Structural changes
  • Client-orientation
  • Active inclusion
  • 2017 Earnings-related pension reform enters into force gradually
  • 2020 Health and social services reform will enter into force

Future. Now!

  • Transformation of work
  • Migration
  • Health technology
  • AI
  • Genome Centre
  • Digitalisation
  • Robotics
  • New challenges and possibilities

Further information