Migration in Finland

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It is not simple to estimate the amount of immigrants in Finland. About three per cent of the inhabitants of Finland have a foreign nationality. However, many immigrants seek the Finnish nationality, so they do not appear in these statistics. If the amount of immigrants is estimated on the basis of the mother tongue, it is four per cent. The problem is that Swedish speaking people from Sweden are missing from these statistics, as Swedish is an official language in Finland. About 4.4 per cent of the inhabitants of Finland were born in a foreign country. This is not an accurate estimate of the immigrants in Finland, though, because the statistics include children born to Finnish families, who lived abroad and have since moved back to Finland. (Figure 1.)

The number and proportion of foreign nationalities living in Finland has increased since 1990. (Figure 2.) However, the proportion is still quite small compared to many other European countries. About 65 per cent of foreigners live in 10 biggest towns of Finland.

In Finland, there are about 30 000 families with children, in which at least one of the parents has a foreign nationality. In 40 000 families at least one of the parents has a foreign mother tongue. If also families with at least 18 years old children and childless couples are included, there are about 70 000 families with at least one foreign language speaking person in them. (Figure 3.)

Children, who have moved to Finland with their parents, are considered as immigrants. However, sometimes also children of one or two immigrant parents are considered as immigrants, even though they were born in Finland. Because of the unclear definition of a young immigrant, the estimate of the number and proportion of young immigrants in Finland, are usually calculated on the basis of the mother tongue. There were almost 70 000 under 25-year-old immigrants in Finland in 2009 and their proportion of the age group is almost five per cent. (Figure 4.)

Figures by Anneli Miettinen / Population Research Institute

More information

Statistics Finland: Migration

City of Helsinki Urban Facts: Foreigners in Helsinki 2008 (pdf)