Previous posts in this discussion:
PostWith the Finns, Shake Off Those Stereotypes! (Cameron Sawyer, Russia, 03/16/19 6:55 am)
I find it odd that anyone thinks that Finns are "unhappy." I am spending about half my time in Finland these days, and I don't find them unhappy at all. Like the Germans, they don't have the same sense of humor some other of us find in other nations (like the Brits or the Russians), so they seem reserved, overly serious, and slow to us (they appear that way even to themselves). But unhappy? I would never say that. In fact last year a UN report named Finland as the happiest country in the world:
As to how they get by on their salaries--well, their material standard of life is actually quite good. Their salaries have greatly increased in the last 20 years and are not so much behind those in the US, as far as I can tell. Certainly it is very expensive to hire a Finnish person, as I am experiencing painfully. The Finns pay low corporate income and capital gains taxes, and entrepreneurship is favoured in many ways, including the possibility of having two years of your previous salary paid by the state, in case you leave a job to start a new business. They pay relatively high income taxes, but these taxes are not actually so high when you consider that about half of them are paid directly to your municipality which delivers concrete services for that money, services which most of the rest of us pay for out of our savings. Health care is very good (so good that unlike in the UK, there is little demand for private health care), covers everyone, and is almost free, education is free, including in any private school of your choice, so a much greater proportion of your income is actually disposable. Housing is very high quality indeed, and is far cheaper than in most of the rest of the developed world, and particularly places like the UK, and is not in shortage even in Helsinki. Finland has a highly developed merchant building industry, and Finland has an enlightened pro-growth city planning process which ensures that there is an adequate supply of land for the production of new housing. Most Finns have country houses besides their principle residences--they have exactly the same dacha culture as the Russians.
In short, Finland, despite various economic challenges which hit the country one after the other (the collapse of Nokia; sanctions on Russia; collapse of the paper industry) is a remarkably successful society, lacking a whole list of problems which plague many other European countries, and is altogether a great place to live.
The suicide rate in Finland is actually almost exactly the same as the US (13.8 per 100,000 in 2016 vs 13.7), and Sweden is now 11.7, below France and not that much more than Ireland (10.9).
So, shake off those stereotypes!
JE comments: Yes, Cameron, debunking assumptions is what WAIS does best! Kiitos. Next up, a guest post on Finland's education system, thanks to Hank Levin (and his colleague at Columbia, Sam Abrams).