Key areas of participation and inclusionAuttava käsi

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health works to strengthen inclusion and social wellbeing and to reduce inequality.

Social exclusion and poverty are prevented by strengthening people’s inclusion and ability to work, reducing unemployment, people’s lack of prospects and non-participation, and ensuring the availability of social security and basic public services.

Preventing social exclusion and poverty requires measures and cooperation across different administrative branches.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) produces statistical information on social exclusion and social inequality.

Social exclusion is multidimensional

The concept of social exclusion describes the modern forms of social disadvantage.  
Social exclusion can be caused by factors such as unemployment, poverty, mental health issues, alcoholism or the lack of opportunities to exert influence in society. It can prevent people from participating fully in the normal activities of society. 

People are particularly vulnerable to social exclusion during key changes in their lives, for example, when their school or studies end or their employment or romantic relationship comes to an end.   The risk of social exclusion is greatest when children have to live and grow up in an environment which demonstrates a number of features of social exclusion. 

Measuring poverty is challenging

People who live on social security alone are at risk of descending into poverty.

Poverty among families with children has become more common in Finland. Unemployed people living alone, students and those in atypical employment are also at risk of poverty.

However, it is challenging to measure poverty. In a welfare state such as Finland, poverty is usually understood as relative poverty. Relative poverty means that a person is unable to achieve a reasonable minimum standard of living that is expected and considered generally acceptable in society.

Relative poverty is caused by insufficient financial resources, such as a low income. In statistical studies, relative poverty often means the same as relative low income. In Finland, the relative poverty line is set at 60 per cent of the average household income.

The EU’s target is to significantly reduce the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion by 2030.

Finland has set itself the national target of reducing the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion by 100,000 by the year 2030. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has drawn up an action plan to reach this target.