Kela is currently celebrating a double anniversary: Finland turns 100 and Kela 80 years. To honor this, our researchers took a vote on the most important social security reforms in Finland.
In this video series, we present these 10 reforms and reflect on how they have contributed to Finnish society.
1. Ground-breaking idea: everyone has the right to receive help
The 1922 Poor Relief Act required municipalities to help those in trouble. It became the foundation for a new kind of social security.
2. The national pension took the elderly out of poverty
In 1937, the National Pensions Act gave all Finns the right to a pension. About twenty years later, pensions were considerably increased. Without these reforms, the elderly in Finland would be more unequal, poorer, and dependent on the good will of their relatives.
3. Maternity grants brought mothers to maternity clinics
In today’s Finland, it seems clear that expectant mothers seek prenatal care. Even just 80 years ago, this was not the case. Then an effective means was found: maternity grants, which required visits to the doctor or midwife. Maternity grants came into use in 1938.
4. Support for all families with children
After the war, there was a boom of children being born in Finland. The Parliament of Finland unanimously decided that families with children needed support. Since 1948, all families with children have received child benefits. It evens out the costs between families with children and other households.
5. A healthier and more equal in Finland
Before health insurance in 1964, illness meant poverty for a lot of Finnish people. Not everyone could afford healthcare and medicine, and a workplace-based insurance system was very unequal. Health insurance has contributed to the equality and health of Finns.
6. Health services conveniently from one place
In 1972, the Primary Health Care Act significantly changed Finnish health care. It required municipalities to take care of primary health care and bring affordable medical services to everyone. All municipalities had to set up a local health center.
7. Everyone has the opportunity to study
Since 1969, Finnish students have received a state-guaranteed student loan. Since 1972, they have also received grants that do not have to be repaid. The purpose of student financial aid is to secure opportunities for students from different backgrounds to study, since education is also an asset for society.
8. Local day care facilitates women’s employment
Since 1973, municipalities have provided an affordable place for children to be cared for during the working days of their parents. At the same time, the child receives high-quality early childhood education.
9. Basic social assistance consistent across the country
Social assistance can be received if one’s income is otherwise insufficient for living. At the beginning of 2017, basic social assistance was transferred from the municipalities to Kela to ensure that customers are treated equally regardless of their place of residence and to lower the barriers for seeking support.
10. Simpler and more supportive social security?
Finland’s social security system is complex and it cannot always meet today’s needs. Therefore, a basic income experiment is underway in Finland from 2017–2018 that offers research data, which can be used to reform social security.