Research projects

The objective of research conducted in Kela is to produce information for the development and implementation of social security. The main emphasis is placed on research supporting national development, in addition to which an important task is to acquire and distribute information about social security reforms carried out in other countries (see our research programme for more information).

Research conducted in Kela deals with income security schemes administered by Kela, Kela's own operations, healthcare provision and rehabilitation. Our key research projects are introduced here briefly by subject categories.

Benefits for families

Labour markets and income security

Private medical and dental services


Sickness benefits

Rehabilitation and ability to work

Kela's services and operations and the implementation of social security

Social security system:

Health insurance system

Income security system


Families with children

This research project looks at mothers who have given birth in the 2000s and their families from different perspectives. The research data covers 60 percent of mothers who gave birth in 1999–2009. The factual content of the data comprises Kela benefits, benefit periods and background information gathered from the labour force survey conducted by Statistics Finland. The sample has approx. 33,000 mothers per annum.

By using registers of Kela and Statistics Finland, the mothers' spouses have also been found and the same background information is available on them as well. This representative sample is used in both cross-sectional and longitudinal research frames. Individual families with children may be followed up to 10–11 years.

The objectives of this research project are

  1. to produce information on the interconnectedness of family leave reforms and how family leaves are distributed between parents and on how family leave reforms affect mothers' and fathers' labour market positions,
  2. to produce more accurate information particularly on such families with children which have previously been studied only marginally or not at all due to small sample sizes, and
  3. to look at how companies' background features explain the use of family leaves and the allocation of paid leaves.

Reports published:

Ongoing  research studies:

  • Aalto, Aino-Maija and Ulla Hämäläinen: Vaikuttiko vuoden 2005 päivärahamuutos synnytysväleihin? (Did the law change of 2005 narrow siblings' age gap?)
  • Ahola, Elina: Toimeentulotuen saaminen pienten lasten perheissä. (Income acquisition in families with small children.)
  • Ahola, Elina: Elatustuen merkitys yksinhuoltajaperheiden toimeentulossa vuonna 2010
  • Airio, Ilpo: Eron vaikutus perheen tuloihin?
  • Heinonen, Hanna-Mari: Nuoret äidit.
  • Hiilamo, Heikki and Ahola, Elina: Vammainen lapsi perheessä. (A disabled child in the family.)
  • Honkanen, Pertti: Pienten lasten äitien työttömyys ja työttömyysturva
  • Tervola, Jussi: Maahanmuuttajaäitien kotihoidon tuen käyttö. (Take-up of home care allowance among immigrant mothers)
  • Saarikallio-Torp, Miia: Perhevapaavalinnat monikkoperheissä. (Family leave choices in multiple-birth families.)
  • Saarikallio-Torp, Miia and Haataja, Anita: Isät uudistettujen vanhempainvapaiden käyttäjinä – keitä reformit eivät tavoittaneet?
  • Valaste, Maria: Kotihoidontuen vaihtoehdot ja vaikutukset päivähoitopalvelujen kysyntään ja vanhempien työmarkkina-asemaan. (Alternatives for child home care allowance and impacts on the demand of daycare services and the parents' labour market position.)

Cooperation partners: Statistics Finland, Kela Actuarial and Statistical Department and Kela IT Department.

Additional information:
Anita Haataja, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1942 or +358 (0)50 583 8594,


Labour markets, social security and income distribution

This study analyses the effect that a transition from one labour market status to another is likely to have on personal incomes in different EU countries. Among other questions, the study looks at the income effects of retirement and examines the extent to which acquired pension rights are indexed to keep pace with general income growth. In addition, the study looks at such life events as unemployment, illness, childbirth and return to the labour market following unemployment or childbirth. The incentives built into the social security systems of different countries are another focus of the study. The study draws upon longitudinal data from the European Community Household Panel, which tracks subjects between 1994 and 2000. The data set will be complemented with EU-Silc data for the 2000s.

One article has been published in an international journal. Two articles and a book manuscript (commissioned by Policy Press) were completed in 2011.

Cooperation partners: Syd dansk universitet (Odense, Denmark) and Stockholms universitet (Sweden).

Additional information:
Olli Kangas, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1935,

Basic social protection: Gaps in coverage and links to social assistance

The Finnish system of basic social protection encompasses the provision of housing benefits and benefits associated with specific contingencies (such as unemployment and sickness allowances). If the level of basic protection is insufficient to meet the subsistence needs of an individual or a family, they are entitled to social assistance.

This project looks at the use of social assistance and at the recipient population. Questions addressed include: What is the role of housing costs in creating need for social assistance? To what extent do health care expenses (doctors' fees, pharmaceutical expenses, dental care) create need for social assistance? How extensive is social assistance use among immigrants? What is the prevalence of multiple concurrent problems among young homeless recipients of social assistance?

The study utilises the client information system of the City of Helsinki Department of Social Services and Health Care and the registry data available to Kela. A book titled Köyhyyttä Helsingissä – Toimeentulotuen saajat ja käyttö 2008–2010 (Poverty in Helsinki - An analysis of social assistance recipients and use in 2008-2010) came out in April 2013 as part of the project (see press release). There will be additional publications as the project progresses.

Additional information: Elina Ahola, Tel. 020 634 1879,


New models of operation in dental care

The project consists of three sub-studies. In the first one the results of partnership projects between private and public dental services will be evaluated. The study follows private sector patients' use of services and the types of procedures (and their costs) performed on them. Dental procedures and costs of patients in the partnership project are compared to procedures and visits of other patients using private services.

The second sub-study looks to evaluate the operations of different companies in the dental care market and how changes in the market affect procedures performed on patients, treatment practices and the frequency of use. In the third sub-study the effects of a voucher trial on the compensations for dental expenses and the service providers' pricing are evaluated by using Helsinki as a case example.

The data used in the sub-studies is the Kela register of compensations for medical expenses 2008–2015 and the data is analysed with applicable statistical methods.

Additional information:
Hennamari Mikkola, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1890, and Merja Komu, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1959,


Online access to health care service fee data

This project seeks to create a data repository within Kela's statistical database to collect data on fees charged for the services of private physicians and for laboratory tests and x-rays on a yearly basis. The database will contain price details about the most common types of visits to physicians and dentists (e.g. surgery, internal medicine), laboratory tests and medical procedures (e.g. the most frequent imaging and ultrasound examinations). The data is set to be open and to make price comparisons possible for citizens. The service was opened to users in April 2012.

Additional information:
Ulla Tuominen, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1904,


Factors underlying the increase in the expenditures for prescription medications

The expenditures for prescription medications have increased continuously in Finland over the last few decades. The project analyses the factors behind this increase in selected drug categories between 1998 and 2005. The analysis is planned to encompass antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-infectives and non-steroidal anti-infective painkillers. The range of drugs may be expanded or changed as necessary.

The research data will be collected from the prescription register maintained by Kela and the register of medical specializations.

The study began in 2006. Articles will be published as the study proceeds.

Cooperation partner: Kela IT department.

Additional information:
Hanna Koskinen, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1902,

The effects of pharmaceutical cost containment policies on the access to medicines in Finland and New Zealand

The objective of regulating the pharmaceutical market is generally to contain costs, especially public expenditure, without compromising equity in access to safe and cost-effective therapies. The aims of the study are to evaluate and compare cost containment policies and their effects on the access to medicines in Finland and New Zealand. The variables used to describe access are range of available medicines and out-of-pocket costs for medicines. The focus of the study is on older people.

The data used consist of registers and interview data, such as the pharmacies' sales registers, Kela's prescription database and Household Budget Survey data of Statistics Finland.

Additional information:
Katri Aaltonen, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1941, 


Pre-surgery sickness allowances

The study looks at surgery-related sickness allowances paid by Kela. In this register-based study focuses on finding out, for instance, how many persons of working age received sickness allowance and what was the paid amount. Through register data it is possible to produce more accurate and nationwide information on paid sickness allowances. The source data are all those of working age who underwent non-urgent surgery in 2004–2009.

Cooperation partner: National Institute for Health and Wellbeing, Kela IT Department

Additional information:
Lauri Virta, tel. +358 (0)20 634 2858,


Second-phase evaluation of a development project aimed at promoting the transition from rehabilitation to work

This evaluation study focuses on a model of rehabilitation based on the results of earlier development work and knowledge on rehabilitation. The model is tested and developed by five rehabilitation service providers in 2012–2014. The rehabilitation model is described in a project plan laid out by the rehabilitation group of Kela's Health Department.

The aim of this study is to produce information which will help developing the contents and quality of rehabilitation to work in a direction better suited to the needs of employees and workplaces. Another objective is to evaluate the carrying out and functionality of rehabilitation as well as its effects and benefits. These subjects are looked at from the perspectives of the rehabilitee, the workplace, occupational health care and the rehabilitation service provider. The study is carried out by Kela in cooperation with the National Institute of Health and Wellbeing, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and the Rehabilitation Foundation.

The evaluation study follows the schedule of the development project, beginning in 2012 and ending in 2014. Results will be reported in the middle and the end of the project and an analysis of the commencement of the rehabilitation service in the early stages of the project. The interim and final reports will be published in Kela's publication series.

Additional information:
Riitta Seppänen-Järvelä, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1908,

Behavioural and mental disorders in children

The psychological well-being of children and adolescents is believed to have deteriorated in the current decade. The study examines this question on the basis of register data on the take-up of child disability allowances and the use of psychotropic medications in 2000–2007.

Two articles have been published in Finnish Medical Journal (Suomen Lääkärilehti), an article in the book Perhepiirissä and an article in the European Journal of Psychiatry. The register study will be repeated in the coming years as applicable.

Cooperation partners: The Kela Actuarial and Statistical Department and the University of Turku.

Additional information:
Ilona Autti-Rämö, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1910,

Evaluation study of a development project on outpatient mental health rehabilitation for adults

A development project on outpatient mental health rehabilitation of adults (AMI project) seeks to improve and secure the patient's ability to work and function, to alleviate mental health problems and to support the development of social interaction and life control. The success of the project is assessed in a separate evaluation study where, in addition to effectiveness, the functionality of networking and the dynamics of service chains are examined. The information produced in this study on the effectiveness of group rehabilitation may be applied in the acquisition process of Kela's established course activities.

A final report for the study will be published in the summer of 2014 after all data is collected in early 2014.

Cooperation partners: Rehabilitation group of Kela, National Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Additional information:
Annamari Tuulio-Henriksson, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1877,

Use of health and social security benefits among persons having applied for psychotherapy arranged by Kela

The aim of the study is to survey the situation in 2007–2010 of persons 16–35 years of age who have applied for mental health rehabilitation arranged by Kela and received a positive or negative decision. The study investigates the distribution of mental health rehabilitation within the age cohort, in different groups of diagnosis and by region. The study also surveys the reasons for positive or negative decisions on psychotherapy. A further aim is also to study factors at the individual level which predict the need for psychotherapy at age 16–35 and factors which cause young adults to have to retire on a disability pension at a young age.

The project covers the years 2012–2014 and findings will be published in Finnish and international publications.

Cooperation partners: Finnish Centre for Pensions (Eläketurvakeskus), National Institute for Health and Welfare and Statistics Finland.

Additional information:
Annamari Tuulio-Henriksson, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1877,

The period prior to disability pension

This joint study of the Finnish Center for Pensions (Eläketurvakeskus) and Kela looks into the factors which influence transferring to disability pension. In order to understand the process leading to disability pension and from the perspective of actions preventing disability it is also important to look at the different paths and mechanisms created by social security systems through which individuals end up on disability pension. The goal here is especially to find the phases in the process leading up to disability pension in which the direction of the process might be reversed and directed back to working life. The study will produce current, register-based information on the factors that affect regaining the ability to work and facilitate the employee's return to work after being on sick leave. Matters of interest in the study are state of health prior to the sick leave, unemployment and previous decisions for pension and rehabilitation. The data used is a large register data set, which contains information derived from different registers.

The project will run through 2012–2015.

Cooperation partners: Finnish Center for Pensions (Eläketurvakeskus)

Additional information:
Jenni Blomgren, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1893,


Long-term care of the elderly in Finland: effects of individual and regional factors

This study investigates the individual and regional risk factors involved in long-term institutional care of the elderly. As regards individual factors of the elderly, particularly the ability to function, socio-economic status, whether or not they live alone and physical conditions of living are of interest here. In regional factors attention is paid to the distribution and coverage of different serviced directed at seniors. Special emphasis is placed on looking at how different service structures are linked to the risk of being placed in institutional care, when individual background matters are taken into account. The extent to which regional differences in service structures reflect differences in need factors and whether this is due to, for instance, municipal preferences in providing care are also investigated.

The project will run through 2012–2014.

Cooperation partners: National Institute for Health and Wellbeing, University of Helsinki

Additional information:
Jenni Blomgren, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1893,


Citizens' views on Kela, Kela's benefits and their implementation

The study surveys citizens' perceptions of Kela, Kela's benefits and their implementation. Kela's operations and the needs to develop them are assessed from the viewpoint of both Kela's public image and customer satisfaction. The study is a sequel to the citizen surveys conducted in 2000, 2002–2005 and 2008–2014, and therefore it is also possible to observe the change over time.

The data are collected through phone interviews. The number of interviews will total 1000. The persons interviewed represent the population that has reached the age of 15, excluding the Åland Islands.

Cooperation partner: TNS Gallup

Additional information:
Hannu Mattila, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1956,

A questionnaire survey on benefits and benefit administration

The study explores the experiences and ideas for improvement that customers have about the implementation of Kela's benefit programmes. The data for the study is collected with questionnaires sent out to 3,000 persons who have received a benefit-related decision from Kela about a week earlier.

The study will also investigate customers' views about benefits administered by Kela, the existing customer services and new services they would like to see, and Kela's overall public image.

Additional information:
Markku Laatu, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1945,

The Kela Barometer

Introduced in 1996, the Kela Barometer is a yearly indicator of the quality of the service Kela provides and of staff well-being. The Barometer results are used in the improvement of operations and services.

Data: Staff and customer surveys carried out by the Research Department

Cooperation partner: The Kela Barometer Advisory Board

Additional information:
Piia Bogdanoff, tel. +358 (0)50 551 7148, and Minna Ylikännö, tel. +358 (0)50 313 8712,


Changing Salo 2013–2023

A sharp change in the economic structure has taken place in Salo within a short period of time after Nokia closed down a mobile phone factory in town. The study Changing Salo 2013–2023 looks at the effects such a large scale structural change has on the well-being of individuals and the region. As part of the study a survey is conducted to gather information about Salo residents' unemployment, livelihood, well-being and health. Additionally, the economic development of the region and the effectiveness of support measures targeted at Salo will be investigated and changes in the provision of public services in ten years (2013–2023) will be monitored.

The first results will be reported in autumn 2013. The study is a collaboration of the Kela Research Department and the University of Turku.

Additional information:
Sari Kehusmaa, tel. +358 (0)20 634 2866, and Minna Ylikännö, tel. +358 (0)2 333 8896,


Health of the Finns and health-related benefits: indicator monitoring

Diverse indicator data on the health of the Finnish population is needed for the monitoring of developments in public health and the use of health-related benefits granted by Kela and for the forecasting of future developments. The project gathers indicator data on the health of the Finns and their health-related behavior in comparison to other European countries as well as data on developments in the use and costs of health-related benefits granted by Kela. In 2011 the first report of the project was published, in which the reference period was mainly the years 1995–2010. In the future the project will produce reports that will be published at certain intervals and where the time series will be updated with more recent data.

Additional information:
Jenni Blomgren, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1893,

Compensations of medical fees in different income groups

The study looks into the differences between income groups in compensations of medical fees paid by Kela (medication reimbursements, compensations for private physicians' fees, compensations for private dentists' fees, compensations for examinations and treatment, refund of travel expenses, sickness allowances) in 2005–2011. It is particularly interesting to look at how big a part of the population in each income group receives compensations for different benefits in a given year, as well as to see on how many instances and in what amounts (in euros) benefits have been paid. The population is analysed separately by age and gender as well as by category of diagnosis. Also, confounding factors (e.g. age and morbidity), which relate to differences between income groups, are standardized.

The project will run through 2012–2014.

Additional information:
Jenni Blomgren, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1893,



Sustainable well-being

"Sustainable well-being" is a future-focused research project aimed at outlining social policy approaches, models and practices that would better address the demands of sustainable development. The project is based on the idea that well-being is multidimensional, that these dimensions are interdependent, and that all activity aimed at creating well-being must occur within ecologically sustainable boundaries. The project consists of several articles and a trilogy of books.

Available in English:

Additional information:
Tuula Helne, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1582,


Microsimulation methods are used to simulate and analyse the effects of legislation on household transfers and taxes. Microsimulation is useful both in drafting legislation and as a tool of tax and social security research. For example, it allows the researcher to examine long-term trends in social security legislation and to test the impact of different hypothetical changes in legislation on household incomes.

The Research Department will participate in the design of a new simulation model, which will be maintained by Statistics Finland. The Department is already involved in the updating and maintenance of the JUTTA microsimulation model.

Cooperation partners: Statistics Finland, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, National Institute for Health and Wellbeing, Government Institute for Economic Research, Labour Institute for Economic Research, Library of Parliament's Information Service.

Additional information:
Pertti Honkanen, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1467,

Last modified 14/06/2017
Updated 22/10/2012