A man grocery shopping. LEHTIKUVA

Health & wellbeing

A recent "Terve Suomi" population study conducted by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has unveiled concerning insights into the financial struggles faced by Finnish adults. The survey, conducted during the fall of 2022 and spring of 2023, included responses from 28,000 adults aged 20 and above, and it revealed that approximately one in five adults in Finland has had to compromise on essentials such as food, medication, or medical appointments due to financial constraints.

The study showed that 18 percent of men and 23 percent of women reported having to make sacrifices in these crucial areas due to financial limitations. This equates to approximately 900,000 adults in Finland. Notably, the issue of financial hardship was particularly prevalent among young adults.

Among the working-age population, aged 20 to 64, a significant 25 percent admitted to having to cut back on necessities like food, medication, or medical appointments within the last 12 months. This trend was more pronounced among women, with 28 percent having faced such difficulties, compared to 22 percent of men.

The challenges related to making ends meet were most common among younger age groups. Among men aged 20 to 39, 26 percent reported making compromises in essential areas due to financial constraints, while the figure stood at 33 percent for women in the same age group. In contrast, less than 10 percent of both men and women aged 75 and over reported such difficulties.

Laura Kestilä, a leading researcher, noted that the financial challenges faced by young adults might be attributed to their less stable employment situations. Young adults often experience rapid life changes and may have a smaller financial cushion to weather unexpected expenses and crises.

Compared to a similar survey conducted in 2020, the study revealed a slight increase in financial hardships across all age groups, with women being more affected than men.

Factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia's aggression in Ukraine, and rising consumer prices are believed to have contributed to these financial difficulties. Additionally, the impact of rising interest rates on financial struggles may not yet be fully reflected in the survey results.

Despite these financial hardships, the majority of respondents, 67 percent, still described their daily lives as very or quite safe. Men tended to report feeling safe slightly more often than women. Feeling unsafe was a rare experience, with only four percent of adults reporting such feelings. However, there has been a slight increase in the perception of insecurity since 2020, especially among those aged 65 and older.

Sakari Karvonen, a research professor, commented, "It's even somewhat surprising that the perception of safety has remained relatively stable despite the uncertainties of recent times. Although the percentage of those feeling unsafe has slightly increased, Finland continues to be one of the world's safest countries, according to research."

Furthermore, the study found that the majority, 82 percent of adults, were satisfied with the conditions in their residential areas. Satisfaction levels increased with age for men but remained consistent for women. Highly educated individuals expressed higher satisfaction with their living conditions.

The "Terve Suomi" study will continue to release comprehensive results throughout the fall, providing a comprehensive overview of the health, well-being, and experiences with social and healthcare services among Finnish adults. Today's findings shed light on living conditions and mental health.