Migrant, beggar, enterprise creator

by Aleksi Vihunen & Ville Matilainen (group3)

An old Finnish saying goes: “Don’t let the foreigner in. He only steals your money, wife and maybe even your job.”

Almost a quarter of all the immigrants we receive come here for work based reasons. Although the number of immigration has declined little bit, we have to think about the whole picture. Enter the foreigners who aren’t here permanently. They are just visiting or stop by for a job or two and after that go on.

Interesting detail with this is that we don’t know the exact number of them. Then again, should we?

We can say, that we receive this and this amount of immigrants yearly, but then we are talking about different figures. When in EU one doesn’t have to live here just to work here. Side effect to this is gray economy and moonshiners, who just collect the salary without any stress of taxing the income anywhere.

You can be an Estonian worker who sails here every Monday to constructions just to leave back again next Friday with a paycheck in your pocket – and there you go! Finland Statistics don’t have a clue how to calculate you or your goings.

According to Finnish Construction Trade Unions estimate, there are at least 25.000 Estonian construction workers actively working in Finland. In the capitol area they number merely 30 percent of all the construction workers.

These high numbers are easily explained: low wages. Also, foreigners from lower income countries are happy to jump in a jobs we Finns don’t seem to think too much of. Nursing and healthcare, services fast food, cleaning and sanitarium, you know. The dirty jobs. The jobs, which won’t necessarily require education. The jobs, that are needed to be done — by someone else.

Number of these part time (also only part pay) workers has grown all the time in 2000s, reaching its top in 2007-08 with almost 40.000 active workers. It seems like today’s trend with the relationship between Finland and the EU countries isn’t really immigration; it is long distance-part-time-working.


Immigration has been slightly declining since 2008. Reasons for this can partially be found in the growing political nationalism, even though at the moment Finland doesn’t have a comprehensive immigration- and integration policy. Declining of immigration is actually a European wide phenomenon, which would lead to a conclusion that the biggest reason behind this phenomenon is the Europe’s unstable economy.

Despite Europe’s economical troubles many immigrants come to Finland to work as employees. Many of those workers, who have full-time jobs, live near, on, or just below the poverty line. Poor salary and working conditions drive immigrants more and more towards entrepreneurship, or gray economy.

The number of immigrant-led enterprises in Finland has doubled in the 21st century. And with almost 6000 enterprises, the number has even quadrupled from the early 90s.

Immigrants are more eager to start a business than native-born Finns. This statement is based on a report that was submitted by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, which also pointed out that the image of foreigners as “pizza and kebab-entrepreneurs” is outdated. For example, highly educated immigrants of Russian origin have been recently more and more interested in becoming entrepreneurs.

Some 700,000 – 800,000 employees in Finland will retire within the next couple of decades. We’re in a desperate need of labor and it’s becoming more obvious that the migrant workers are the solution to that problem.

The ball is now in the hands of the Finnish decision makers. They should make a huge effort in mending the problem concerning the working conditions and lack of salary of the migrant workers. Otherwise even more immigrants will seek ways of maintaining from the possibilities provided by the gray economy, which will only furthermore damage our economic stability.

Eurostat, Migration and migrant population statistics, October 2011

EWCO – European Working Conditions Observatory, Study of Employment and Working Conditions of Migrant Workers – Finland, 29th of May 2007

Helsingin Sanomat, Article – Number of immigrant-led enterprises doubles in Finland

Taloussanomat.fi, Article – The Number of immigrant-led enterprises growing, 22nd of August 2010

Muuttoliikkeessa.fi (migration movement), Article – Working in Finland – permanently or partly? 23rd of October 2012

Helsingin Sanomat, Graphic – Opinions considering Finlands immigration policy

Statistics Finland, Immigration lower than the year before, April 2011


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