Sunday, September 08, 2013

Finland facts

  • 36 vacation days per year, not including holidays. You can leave your job for a brief hiatus and come back to a guaranteed position months later.
  • Tuition at university is free.
  • An immigrant, while learning the language and training for jobs, earns 700 euros a month to live on. 
  • When a child is born, the parents will collect 100 euros a month from the government until the day they turn 17.
  • The country has a low infant mortality rate, better school scores, and a very low poverty rate.
  • It's the second-happiest country on earth (the U.S. doesn't break the top 10). According to the OECD, Finns on average give an 8.8 score to their overall life satisfaction.
  • The Finnish government gives every mom a 'baby box'. This package sent to expecting women contains all the essentials for newborns -- everything from diapers to a tiny sleeping bag. (Want to choose your own baby clothes? You can opt instead for the box's cash value) 
  • Finland mandates four months of paid maternity leave, and the mother and father can share an additional six-month "parental leave" period, with pay. After that, kids can either continue staying home with their mothers until they reach school age, or parents can instead send them to a publicly subsidized child-care center, where the providers are all extensively trained. The cost is on a sliding scale based on family income, but the maximum comes out to about $4,000 a year, compared with $10,000 for comparable care in the US.
  • Unemployment insurance in Finland lasts for 500 days, after which you can collect a means-tested Labor Market Subsidy for an essentially indefinite period of time. (The unemployment rate is a high-but-not-awful 8.2 percent).
  • In addition to dirt-cheap universal health care, Finland offers compensation for wages you might have lost while you were away from work, as well as a "Special Care Allowance" if you need to take some time off to take care of your sick kids.
  • People in Finland are more secure and less anxious because there is a threshold below which they won't fall. Even if they face unemployment or illness, Finns will have some payments from the state, guaranteed public health care and education. 
  • Finnish women were the second in the world to get the vote in 1906, and they were heavily represented in the country's first parliament. 
  • Roughly 75 to 80 percent of Finns are union members (it's about 11 percent in the US), and the groups dictate the salaries and working conditions for large swaths of the population. 
  • Finns live in houses and apartments that are about half the size of Americans', and their taxes on the wealthy, like those on capital gains, are much higher than ours. Professionals such as doctors make far less there, which helps medical care to stay reasonably priced.
  • Finland has much more powerful local governments and they're tasked with executing the myriad functions of the welfare system -- from helping the poor to operating the day cares. Municipal taxes are redistributed and supplemented with grants, thus largely eliminating the problem of under-resourced areas.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some of my dearest friends are Fins, in fact we were supposed to be there last summer, until Mitch's Achilles tendon decided otherwise. We are rescheduling for next summer.