A unique survey by the think tank Suomen Perusta linked to the Finns party has estimated lifetime costs associated with Iraqi and Somali immigrants, who constitute the largest groups of so-called "humanitarian immigration" to Finland and contributed the most in 2015, the peak of Europe's migrant crisis.
Using government-generated statistics, Suomen Perusta calculated that an average Iraqi migrant moving to Finland between the ages of 20 to 24 is expected to cost Finland €690,000 ($783,000). A Somali migrant of the same age was estimated to be even more expensive, burdening the Finnish state with €951,000 ($1.08 million). If child-related issues are included, the costs rise to €844,000 ($957,000) and €1,343,000 ($1.5 million) respectively. For the sake of comparison, the reference mean value for native-born Finns was set at 0 Euros.
The research also found that the asylum-seeker and refugee expenditure in the state budget is only about 4-6 percent of the entire accumulated life-cycle.
The second-generation of migrants who have grown up in Finland were found to have a rate of social and economic exclusion and income support 6-8 times higher than native-born Finnish young adults, despite having received basic education in Finland. A total of 49 and 50 percent of 22-year-old Iraqi and Somali migrants were income support recipients, as opposed to only 11 percent of their Finnish peers, the report found.
Admittedly, the authors didn't account for all possible fiscal effects in their study. Had those "missing" items been recognised as well, they argued, the effects would have been even more negative, the study said. Some of these may include lower contribution for old age pensions, indirect integration costs, and higher health services costs due to factors such as translation needs.
From the Finnish public finance point of view, the authors concluded, no new migbrants should be welcomed to Finland when expected life-cycle effects are negative.
"The conclusion of the study is that from the standpoint of the public finances of Finland it is not beneficial to take any migrants born in Iraq or Somalia", the report said. "The same conclusion holds for whichever way the results are broken down: by age, by years of education, the age when the migrant arrives in Finland or their employment status.
However, the research led by Samuli Salminen, was met with criticism. Hannu Pikkola, a professor of economics at the University of Vaasa, slammed both the starting point and the results of the research.
"These numbers sound like what a person pays to society if they become incapacitated", Pekkola said, as quoted by the newspaper Aamulehti.
According to Pekkola, taxes paid by migrants should not be estimated, despite their lower value.
"Work has many other effects. The benefits to the national economy double when people consume", Pekkola said. He also argued that migrants children are beneficial amid Finland's protracted demographic slump, as the nation has reached its lowest nativity rate in 150 years.
Others ventured that this survey will be used by the right-wing and anti-immigrant Finns party in the upcoming general election.
According to Finland's Migration Board (Migri), almost 5,000 Iraqi and just under 3,000 Somali asylum seekers received a positive decision last year alone. If Suomen Perusta's calculation is true, they will set Finland back €3.5 billion ($3.9 billion) and €2.9 billion ($3.3) respectively, the newspaper Iltalehti reported.