Foreigners in Finland trust people, police and the president

What are the attitudes of Estonian, Somali, Arabic, Russian and English speakers living in the capital city region to life in Finland?

Finnish flag drawn in chalk / Credit: Suomi100 Suvi-Tuuli Kankaanpää

Foreigners in Finland are more likely to trust native Finnish people than compatriots from their homeland; have a strong confidence in the police and justice systems; and the healthcare and education systems too.

Those are some of the key findings in a new study carried out among Russian, Estonian, Somali, Arabic and English-speakers living in Finland by the E2 think tank, the Cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, and the Ministry of Justice.

Around 300 people from each language group answered questions for the report in the capital city region.

With four of the language groups – Arabic, Russian, Estonian and English – immigrants are more likely to trust native Finns than people from their own language group or their own country of origin.

The main difference was with Somali speakers.

“Somali speakers form close communities in the metropolitan area. This strengthens mutual trust” says researcher Ville Pitkänen.

File picture of Muslim teacher and school girls wearing headscarves / Credit: iStock

Confidence in Finnish institutions 

While the study finds an overall high level of trust and confidence in a range of Finnish institutions like schools, universities, health care and the judicial system there is less confidence in the police among Somali speakers than other language groups.

The President of the Republic is trusted in all language groups – more than parliament or the government. While politicians and political parties are less trusted again.

As many 75% of English speakers and 66% of Somali speakers actively follow Finnish social issues. Estonian speakers are (36%) are the least actively engaged.

While 71% of Somali speakers think Finnish politics rarely does anything good, only 12% of English speakers agree with that.

“Although Somali speakers are the most disappointed in politics, their turnout in the last municipal elections was the highest among foreign-speaking groups” explains Pitkänen.

“”So dissatisfaction does not mean they are passive” he adds.

File picture of waving Finnish flag, with Helsinki in the background / Credit: iStock

Things that are ‘sacred’ to foreigners in Finland

More than half of Somali speakers – 56% – said they believe Finnish independence is extremely important or even sacred to them, and Somali speakers emphasize Finnishness more in their identities than Estonian speakers, for example.

And 75% of people with foreign backgrounds consider Finnish sporting success to be a great thing because it unites people regardless of their origins.

“Contacts between native Finnish people and immigrants are low in many areas, but sports and sports clubs bring people together. Athletes of foreign background in blue and white provide positive role models” says researcher Jussi Westinen.

Migration is welcome

There’s a divide in the language groups when it comes to international migration.

Almost all Somali speakers and English speakers consider it a good thing, while 30% of Russian speakers and 75% of Estonian speakers say the opposite.

“Even Estonians can benefit from intra-European migration, but perhaps those who work in Finland do not feel they are immigrants” says researcher Pasi Saukkonen.

And when it comes to the success of these five different language groups of immigrants about 90% of Russian, Estonian, Arabic and Somali speakers think the key to success lies in their own hard work and efforts.

It’s much lower in English speakers (74%) and lower still with native Finns (64%).