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Finland Must Triple Immigration to Maintain Work Force, Study Claims

© AFP 2023 / PANU POHJOLA / LEHTIKUVAMigrants queue in front of a refugee reception centre in Tornio,Finland (file)
Migrants queue in front of a refugee reception centre in Tornio,Finland (file) - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.02.2023
Although conceding that the economic input from unskilled immigrants is lower than that from educated ones, a recent Finnish business study has nevertheless suggested that even low-skilled immigration is ultimately beneficial as the country struggles with spiraling demographic woes.
A study by the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy (ETLA), a business-backed think tank, has estimated that immigration to the Nordic country should nearly triple to stabilize the size of the workforce.
This would mean a spike in net migration from the present levels of about 15,000 to about 44,000 people per year.
According to the report, a higher level of immigration would have a "significant positive impact" on economic growth and the sustainability of public finances, including healthcare and elderly care in an aging society.
With the present demographic and immigration trends, Finland's working-age population will shrink by nearly a fifth by 2070, the report warned. Increased immigration could therefore serve to mitigate this effect and help plug the black hole in tax take.
"The biggest problems are related to the financing of the welfare society. The fall in the number of employed persons reduces income from taxes and public fees at the same time as the increase in life expectancy boosts the costs of health treatment and care services," the report said.
Interestingly the Etla report didn't consider an increase in the birth rate as a realistic solution to the country's demographic woes. In 2022, the number of births in Finland was the lowest in more than 150 years, whereas the death rate reached its highest point since the Forties.
The river Ounaskoski in the Finnish Arctic town of Rovaniemi  - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.10.2022
Number of Births in Finland Drops to Lowest Ever Amid Record Mortality, Immigration
The present left-wing coalition government led by the Social Democrats aims to boost the number of work-related immigrants to 50,000 by 2030. However, the nationalist Finns Party, the largest in opposition, argues that the employment of Finland's existing workforce should be improved and proposes that Finland, as a rule of thumb, should refrain from letting in immigrants from non-EU countries, unless they are possessed of value-added skills.
"If a person applies for a work permit in Finland, a prerequisite in future for the permit must be earnings equivalent to the median salary in Finland," the Finns Party policy said.
Its leader Riikka Purra also slammed calls for increased immigration as "bluff" as she suggested that the real immigration Finland gets is "economically detrimental" rather than beneficial.
The Etla study admitted that economic input from immigrants with low levels of education is lower than that of the educated ones, as they tend to tap into benefits and public programs before they can generate tax revenues of their own. Nevertheless, it viewed even low-skilled immigration as ultimately beneficial.
Earlier, similar conclusions were made by the Consultancy for Regional Development (MDI), which stressed that a shrinking population, combined with a spike in elderly groups with special healthcare needs and a drop in the number of taxpayers all necessitate increased labor immigration in Finland.
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