Current research

Kela carries out research on the benefit systems it operates, Kela’s internal operations, general health security and rehabilitation. Brief summaries of our key current research projects follow, arranged by subject area.

Economic security

Social assistance recipiency in Helsinki in the 2010s

The transfer of administrative responsibility for the basic social assistance scheme from municipal authorities to Kela at the beginning of 2017 was believed to contribute to reducing poverty and improving access to first-line benefits. Additionally, the transfer was thought to be likely to streamline and standardise the practices relating to eligibility assessment and payment, to simplify the compiling of statistics, and to free resources for actual social work in the municipalities.

The purpose of this project is to look at the effects of the transfer on recipients and applicants and to study the connections between social assistance and the other benefits available from Kela in the period between 2011 to 2019; i.e., before and after the transfer of administrative responsibility for basic social assistance. Additionally, the project will investigate how the lower reimbursement rates for type 2 diabetes medications introduced in 2017 have impacted social assistance recipiency. The study population consists of residents of Helsinki in the above mentioned time period.

The study draws together data on social assistance collected by the City of Helsinki Department of Social Services for 2011–2017 and register data compiled by Kela for the period 2011–2019.

Additional information: Tuija Korpela, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Immigrants as clients of Kela

The aim of this study to provide new information on immigrants as Kela clients. A working paper released towards the end of 2020 looked at recipiency of Kela benefits among immigrants compared to the native population.  The study will go on to look at the take-up of Kela benefits over a longer period of time, focusing on young persons between 18 and 24 as clients of Kela. The study will also explore how the information provided to clients in their first language affects benefit application and take-up rates. The study draws on data compiled from Kela’s registers.

The project will be conducted between 1 June 2019 and 30 June 2022.

Additional information: Signe Jauhiainen, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

The role of migration and social policy in shaping demographic structures and social problems in Finnish suburbs

The aim of the project is to shed light on segregation mechanism and to contribute to efforts aimed at strengthening well-being in suburbs. To do this, the project will seek to produce more detailed information on: 1) the development of the demographic structure in the suburbs of the larger Finnish cities; 2) the relationship between various social problems and the demographic structure; 3) how selective migration affects the demographic structure and the accumulation of social problems; 4) how social security levels out income disparities between different regions and the link between benefit recipiency and mobility; and 5) how social work can support the housing needs of vulnerable individuals in particular. The study uses longitudinal individual-level data along with quantitative and qualitative interview data. The results will help to understand the development trajectories that different types of suburbs are going through and to assist in developing housing support mechanisms related to housing production, social security and social work that can curb segregation and promote housing security.

The project is a collaboration of Kela and the National Institute for Health and Welfare. Kela will carry out the sub-study 4. The project is part of the Ministry of the Environment’s programme focusing on Finnish suburbs.

Additional information: Signe Jauhiainen, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Social impact of the coronavirus epidemic on the most vulnerable clients and the services available to them

This study will look at the circumstances of the most vulnerable population both during and after the coronavirus epidemic. It will seek to find out what changes they have experienced in terms of their well-being and the services available to them as a result of the steps taken and restrictions imposed to deal with the epidemic. The part of the study being conducted by Kela focuses on 1) changes in the population receiving social assistance payments and 2) changes in the financial circumstances of young women. A collaboration with the National Institute for Health and Welfare, the study will be carried out between 1 June 2020 and 31 December 2021.

Additional information: Signe Jauhiainen, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Changes in the special reimbursement status of Type 2 diabetes medications on the use of the medication and the take-up of social assistance

At the beginning of 2017, medications for type 2 diabetes were transferred from the higher special reimbursement category with a reimbursement rate of 100% to the lower special reimbursement category, in which reimbursements are available at a rate of 65%.

The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of changes in the special reimbursement status of Type 2 diabetes medications on the patients’ overall use of medication. A secondary objective is to look at trends in the share of costs for pharmaceutical treatment of patients with Type 2 diabetes that are covered out of social assistance funds following the 2017 change in the special reimbursement status, and to see whether they differ from trends seen in social assistance supported pharmaceutical treatments in suitable comparison populations.

Additional information: Hanna Rättö, tel. 020 634 1980, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

EUROMOD update project for Finland

EUROMOD is a harmonized microsimulation model covering all EU member states. The model provides a standardized, flexible solution for cross-country comparison of tax-benefit policies. Uses of the model include evidence based ex-ante policy evaluation, such as estimating effects of policy changes on income distribution. In addition, EUROMOD is an essential tool for producing flash estimate indicators on income poverty and inequality in the EC.

The European Commission Joint-Research Centre, the University of Essex and national teams from member states update the model annually as a joint effort. The EUROMOD update project for Finland includes documenting the up-to-date tax-transfer policy system in Finland and producing an input dataset for the most recent year available.

Cooperation partners: European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC), University of Essex

The project will be carried out between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2023.

Additional information: Tapio Räsänen, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Stress-testing the social security system

By stress-testing the Finnish social security system, this study seeks to find out how a sudden economic downturn or individual loss of income affects households’ finances and ability to afford essential expenses. The study applies the social security stress-test proposed by Atkinson (2009). Using a microsimulation method, the study examines how extensively the social insurance system covers households against such risks as unemployment.

The study will produce up-to-date information on whether the welfare system offers adequate protection against unforeseen risks. By applying the stress-test method to the evaluation of the economic impact of the 2020 pandemic, it seeks to respond to existing needs for current information. The first stage involves an analysis of the protections available to Finnish employed and self-employed households. The evaluation of the economic impact focuses on the economic security of households and the extent of coverage provided by the welfare system.

Project implementation period: 1 April 2020–31 December 2021.

Additional information: Tapio Räsänen, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Service outcomes

Use and costs of social and health services and social security benefits in Oulu, 2013–2018

The study seeks to produce information at the individual level about the use of social and health services and benefit recipiency among residents of the city of Oulu. Particular attention is paid to how specific individuals use and combine services and benefits from different sectors and systems. Having access to a set of register data spanning a period of several years, the study is able to investigate broadly the aggregate use and costs in different sectors of the healthcare system and of public social services and benefits. The project is divided into several sub-projects.

Cooperation partners: City of Oulu, occupational health service providers.

Additional information: Jenni Blomgren, tel. 020 634 1893, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Analysis of social crises and their effect on medication, with particular reference to the coronavirus epidemic

The objective of this register-based study is to investigate trends in drug prescribing, outpatient medication use, and prescription drug prices, costs and reimbursements in Finland during the coronavirus epidemic. Additionally, the study will produce ongoing updates to support actions to monitor the epidemic and the decisions it requires at the national level. The study compares drug consumption trends to a comparable period in 2019 and looks for reasons behind any observed differences or variations. The analysis of drug consumption is based on the population-wide data stored in the Kanta prescriptions archive on prescriptions written by doctors and prescription drugs dispensed by outpatient pharmacies. The analysis of the drug reimbursement expenditure is based on data in Kela's prescriptions file concerning purchases of medication resulting in a National Health Insurance reimbursement. In addition to producing up-to-date data to track the coronavirus epidemic, the study can assist the public efforts made to prepare for future epidemics, pandemics and other crises impacting society, as well as support more generally the debate on security of supply issues in Finland and abroad.

Project implementation period: 27 April 2020–31 December 2022

Additional information: Heini Kari, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Study on the rehabilitation service provider registration trial (REKKU)

This purpose of this study is to supply research data to support the implementation, management and development of the trial.  The study consists of two phases and focuses on 1) the suitability of the registration procedure as a procurement tool and 2) the implementation of the rehabilitation programmes which comply with the new service descriptions and have been selected for the trial. The study employs a multi-method and multi-perspective approach, looking at the research question from the client's, service provider’s and programme sponsor’s perspectives.

Additional information: Riitta Seppänen-Järvelä, tel. 020 634 1908, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Regional variation in rehabilitation

This study analyses the stages that persons undergoing Kela-supported rehabilitation pass through in terms of the differences between individual hospital districts and the reasons for such differences. The focus is on aspects of the client process which affect the availability of rehabilitation, either facilitating or thwarting access to rehabilitation services. The study takes a system-wide look at rehabilitation based on a theoretical exploration of service availability. In addition to hospital districts, the study explores possible differences between urban and rural localities. The goal is to provide new information on the regional availability of rehabilitation from the perspectives of the rehabilitation system and the various stages that rehabilitation clients go through.

The study will be carried out between 1 March 2020 and 31 August 2022.

Additional information: Sari Miettinen, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Pharmaceutical treatment of persons with developmental disabilities in Finland, 2014–2018

The objective of this study is to analyse medication use among persons with developmental disabilities and any changes observed in the period 2014–2018. The study also seeks to update the general understanding of persons with developmental disabilities and the epidemiological issues relating to developmental disability in Finland. A study population of persons with developmental disabilities will be produced by combining the disability allowance and national pension registers of Kela with the care register of the National Institute for Welfare and Health. The prevalence of medication use among the study population, the types of medicines used, and the changes observed in medication use over a period of five years will be studied on the basis of Kela’s prescription file. The study is a collaboration between the Finnish Association of Mental Retardation, the Universities of Oulu and Turku, and Kela.

Cooperation partners: Finnish Association of Mental Retardation, University of Oulu, University of Turku

Project implementation period: 1 September 2019–31 December 2021

Additional information: Leena K. Saastamoinen, firstname.k.lastname@kela.fi

Mapping out trends in pharmaceutical treatment - A pilot project aimed at improving the reporting of pharmaceutical data

Kela Research and the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea have launched a joint process aimed at evaluating pharmaceutical therapies. This collaborative project sets out to produce reports on key themes and phenomena surrounding rational drug therapies. Its purpose is to refine existing data from various sources to allow a more goal-driven development, management, monitoring and guidance of drug therapies. The project will produce visual and interactive reports. Some of the issues examined in this pilot stage include analysing what specific categories of medicine are behind the rise in pharmaceutical expenditures, drug therapies among the elderly, and the use of antibiotics.

Project implementation period: 1 March 2020–31 December 2021.

Additional information: Hanna Koskinen, tel. 020 634 1902, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Regional analysis of factors related to the use of potentially inappropriate drugs

The aim of this study is to look at regional variation in the use of potentially inappropriate drugs among the elderly. The study will assess regional variation with the Lääke 75+ indicators of the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea. Further, the study will look at the connection between the regional variation with economic, patient related and health system related factors. Reducing irrational use of medicines increases patient well-being and can help to achieve significant savings in drug spending.

For data, the study will use Kela's prescriptions file, which will be combined with background data on the relevant regions. The dataset will cover the use of medicines in the entire Finnish population in 2011. The background data will be obtained from the health statistics compiled by the National Institute for Health and Welfare and Health.

Additional information: Leena K. Saastamoinen, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1972, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Impact of feedback from Kela on physicians’ prescribing practices

Diverse studies have shown that outreach efforts in the form of written educational material are not enough to bring about changes in doctors’ prescribing practices. The analysis of doctors’ practices and the provision of feedback have in some studies been shown to change their prescribing behaviour. Also patient-driven interventions and periodic reminders to doctors may influence prescribing patterns. The individual feedback that Kela provides to doctors about their prescribing is linked to a specific case which is selected yearly. The feedback also includes an informational component that takes the form of a professional article on the selected topic. The feedback is designed to remind doctors to take a look at their own prescribing practices and to possibly change them towards a more rational direction.

This project examines the impact of the feedback letters sent in 2017, 2018 and 2019 to doctors and dentists on their prescribing behaviour and on patient management, resources use and costs.

In 2017, the feedback focused on the prescribing of paracetamol/codeine to new patients in large package sizes. The topic of the feedback given in 2018 was the prescribing of pregabalin and tricyclic antidepressants to patients over 75 years of age. Finally, the feedback provided in 2019 concerned the large-volume prescribing of oxycodone and phentanyl.

The study is a collaboration between Kela and the University of Jyväskylä. 

Additional information: Leena K. Saastamoinen, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1972, firstname.k.lastname@kela.fi

Use of psychopharmaceuticals among Finnish children and adolescents

This project looks at the use of antipsychotics, antidepressants and ADHD medications among children and adolescents under the age of 18 and how their use has changed.

The study examines the use of psychopharmaceuticals on the basis of the data in Kela's prescriptions file. In terms of antipsychotics, the study looks at the role that they play in children’s therapy, the order in which the drugs are prescribed, how a multi-drug medication regimen is adopted and for whom, and what changes are observed in drug therapies over the study period. The study also looks at the duration of antipsychotic use and the factors explaining the duration in children and adolescents prescribed an antipsychotic for the first time. For drugs used in the treatment of ADHD, the study looks at the introduction of drug therapy among children born at different times of the year, changes in the use of the drugs and associated factors, and the distribution of the use by region, age and sex. For antidepressants, the study examines their use in children and adolescents under 18, changes in the use, and the cost of the therapies in 2008–2018.

The various substudies are executed in collaboration with such organisations as the pediatric psychiatric units of the University of Helsinki and of the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, the clinical pharmacy unit of the University of Helsinki, the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Turku, and the University of Turku Department of Teacher Education.

Project implementation period: 15 January 2018–31 December 2022.

Additional information: Leena K. Saastamoinen, tel. +358 (0)20 634 1972, firstname.k.lastname@kela.fi

Drug reimbursement system and social assistance

No comprehensive data is available on medicine costs covered out of social assistance payments prior to the transfer of administrative responsibility for basic social assistance to Kela at the beginning of 2017. This study looks at costs of pharmaceutical treatment covered out of basic social assistance and the types of treatment and pharmaceuticals most typically targeted by the assistance. The study also examines how medicine expenses affect the need for social assistance and how the transfer of administrative responsibility to Kela has impacted the amount and selection of pharmaceuticals covered out of social assistance. The project will be carried out in 2018–2021.

Additional information: Heini Kari, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Medicine reimbursement system: assessing the development and savings measures

According to the Government Programme, the expenditure for medicine reimbursements shall be reduced by a total of €134 million in 2017 on top of the already realised savings. This development project involves an assessment of the proposed savings measures, which will serve as background support for the decision-making process. Other aims of the project are to further develop the simulation tool in use and to produce data that can be utilised in the development of the medicine reimbursement system. The study covers the years 2016-2018.

Additional information: Leena K. Saastamoinen, firstname.k.lastname@kela.fi

The impact of a reference pricing system and stepwise discounted prices on the prices of generic medicines

Promotion of generic substitution and increased price competition are widely used methods for the purpose of containing the rise in medicinal costs. In Finland, like many other European countries, attempts have been made to indirectly reduce the prices of generic medicines by means of generic substitution and reference pricing. Austria is an example of a country where the government directly influences the prices of generic medicines. In Austria, the price of the first generic product must be at least 48% lower than the price of the original medicinal product, and the price of the second generic product 15% lower than the price of the first generic product.

The study aims to compare the volume of generic products and the prices of generic vs. original products in Finland and Austria. The study is jointly carried out in cooperation with the WHO Collaborating Centre for Pharmaceutical Pricing and Reimbursement Policies unit in Vienna, Austria.

Additional information: Leena K. Saastamoinen, firstname.k.lastname@kela.fi

Long-term use of sedatives and hypnotics in Finland

Sedatives (tranquilisers) and hypnotics (sleeping pills) are among the most commonly used medicines in Finland. According to the treatment recommendations, these medicines should only be prescribed for short-term use of no more than a few weeks because of their harmful effects. Nevertheless, their long-term use is common. This register-based study investigates the development of long-term use of sedatives and hypnotics in Finland and associated factors.

The study is a joint research project of the Turku University Hospital, Kela Research, the Universities of Turku and Helsinki, and the Niuvanniemi Hospital. The data sources include several of Kela’s benefit registers as well as data from other registers.

Leena Saastamoinen and Terhi Kurko of Kela Research are participating in the project.

Additional information: Terhi Kurko, tel. +358 (0)20 634 0726, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Microsimulation of the prescription drug reimbursement system

Microsimulation is widely used to plan changes to social security schemes and legislation. Kela has developed a microsimulation method to model the prescription drug reimbursement system, which has been used to evaluate how various planned legislative changes will impact the reimbursement system. The purpose of this project is to maintain, update and develop further this microsimulation method.

Additional information: Aarni Soppi, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Project trialling multiprofessional service and customer relations coordination: Processes and benefits

Kela is trialling two new service modalities consisting of multiprofessional services and customer relations coordination, in which customers are offered repeated counselling to determine their service needs and to refer them onward. 

The purpose of this study is to support the development of these new service modalities and to investigate their effectiveness. It looks at customers’ experiences with the multiprofessional service provided by Kela and the processes and benefits of the customer relations coordination trial as well as the patterns of referral to various services. Further, it analyses the customers’ personal goals, the extent to which they are realised, and subjective wellbeing. The pilot stage begins in spring 2019 with a series of customer surveys.

Information about data collection methods and privacy issues | PDF
Privacy statement

Additional information: Karoliina Koskenvuo, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Work capacity and functioning

Impact of the coronavirus crisis on the implementation of outpatient individual therapies

This study looks at the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the implementation of individual therapies. It is conducted as a questionnaire-based survey among physical, occupational, speech and music therapists, professionals providing outpatient individual neuropsychological rehabilitation, psychotherapists and their clients. The therapists were asked about their professional situation, about the implementation of distance rehabilitation and about their clients’ circumstances. Replies were received from both therapists providing Kela-supported rehabilitation and from those providing rehabilitation arranged within the public healthcare system. A separate questionnaire addressed to clients will ask them for their views concerning the implementation of individual therapies during the coronavirus epidemic and their experiences with distance rehabilitation.

The therapist survey was carried out in May 2020, and its results have been published in Kela's research blog, among other places. The client survey will be carried out in autumn 2020, with preliminary results expected in early 2021.

Additional information: Tuija Heiskanen, tel. 020 634 1944, firstname.t.lastname@kela.fi, Anna-Liisa Salminen, tel. 020 634 1303, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Project aimed at developing the evaluation and reporting of rehabilitation outcomes

Carried out in 2018-2020, this project seeks to develop further the evaluation and reporting of the outcomes of Kela-supported rehabilitation to meet current and future information needs.

The project is implemented over the period of 1 September 2018 - 31 December 2019 and is financed with development funds and coordinated by Kela Research.

Learn more

Additional information: Sari Miettinen, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

The role of the sickness allowance in health and social services

This study looks at the role of the sickness allowance as part of the totality of health and social service provision and expenditure in Finland. It explores regional differences in sickness allowance recipiency and examines the duration of recipiency and expenditure on sickness allowances within the overall health and social services. Further, the study will investigate the use of health and social services by sickness allowance recipients, comparing them to the general working-aged population, examines the type of services most commonly received, and looks at the distribution of overall costs of social and health provision in these groups. 

Additional information: Jenni Blomgren, tel. 020 634 1893, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

The significance of the therapeutic relationship to rehabilitation

This study focuses on intensive medical rehabilitation provided in the form of physical, occupational, speech and music therapy or as neuropsychological rehabilitation. The goal is to explore rehabilitation clients’ and therapists’ views and experiences of the quality of the therapy and the impact of case handover to the implementation of therapy and the therapeutic relationship. The questionnaires and interviews for the study will be conducted during 2020. The project is scheduled to end on 31 May 2022.

Additional information: Tuija Heiskanen, tel. 020 634 1944, firstname.t.lastname@kela.fi

Self-directed rehabilitation

This literature review aims to produce information on self-direction in rehabilitation and associated concepts, analyse the relationship between rehabilitation and self-directed rehabilitation, and produce information on the benefits and suitability of self-directed rehabilitation for different types of rehabilitation clients.

The project will be carried out between 1 September 2019 and 31 December 2021.

Additional information: Anna-Liisa Salminen, tel. 020 634 1303, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Disability and rehabilitation benefits for youth

The purpose of the project is to produce information about trends in the use of disability and rehabilitation benefits granted to young people, and about vocational rehabilitation benefits intended for youth and the related changes. In addition, the study maps the pathways leading to disability pensioning as well as the later situation and background factors for young people who have applied for or been granted various benefits based on illness.

Project period: 1 September 2013–31 December 2019.

Additional information: Karoliina Koskenvuo, tel. 020 634 1355, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Changes in work disability in the 21st century

There is a need for fresh information on trends in work disability and the factors associated with them. This collaborative project of Kela and the Finnish Centre for Pensions is aimed at producing fresh information on trends in seeking disability pensions, in transitions to disability retirement and the denial of disability pension applications, and the predictive factors, especially from the perspective of the benefit processes. Analyses are made both in terms of population groups and diagnostic categories. A particular focus of the project is on the labour market status and welfare recipiency before and after applying for a disability pension, taking into account also the denied applications.  The study data consists of register data on the working-age population, including various sociodemographic background factors, new pension payments, sickness allowance payments, rehabilitation services and allowances, reimbursements for prescription medicine costs, unemployment, and career trajectories.

The project will be carried out between 1 February 2020 and 31 December 2023 and is a collaboration with the Finnish Centre for Pensions.

Additional information: Jenni Blomgren and Riku Peltoniemi, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Families

Child care choices

This project looks at the choices parents make with regard to child care and the recent trends in the take-up of the child home care allowance. Take-up has decreased slightly over the last few years, but the allowance remains a popular option for arranging the care of small children. However, the take-up of child home care allowance is strongly gendered, with mothers accounting for a vast majority of the recipients. We look at such issues as the incidence of longer child home care allowance payments in specific population groups, how parents combine the family leave available to fathers with the child home care allowance, and the fathers that receive child home care allowance payments. We also examine the take-up of the allowance among mothers with migration backgrounds. The rate of employment is significantly lower among immigrant mothers than among native-born mothers, with the relatively high prevalence of lengthy child home care allowance spells having been identified as one key challenge. The study looks more closely at trends in child home care periods among immigrant mothers and the background factors that explain them.

Additional information: Anneli Miettinen, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

The role of experimental research in producing data for decision-making

This study seeks to employ experimental research designs to produce information in support of decision-making and to strengthen expertise in experimental research at Kela. The project will carry out a trial public information campaign on family leaves for fathers. It is designed to find out whether information targeted at fathers of small children can change fathers’ behaviour in terms of the use of parental leaves. The fathers are divided into a group who are provided additional information on family leaves and a control group. The additional information includes general information on family leaves and various examples of family leave choices. The effect of the additional information on the take-up of paternity and parental leaves is analysed on the basis of the register data collected by Kela.

The project will be conducted between 1 April 2018 and 30 June 2022.

Additional information: Signe Jauhiainen and Miia Saarikallio-Torp, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Family arrangements and economic security during the coronavirus epidemic

This project looks at the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on the arrangements families with children make in their daily lives, their economic security, and work-life balance. Parents and adolescents 15 or over were invited to write about their daily lives during the epidemic. Material was collected between 7 May 2020 and 31 May 2020.

The study looks at the problems that life during the coronavirus epidemic causes for families with children for example in terms of economic security, work-family balance, remote learning, and the care of children under school age. As a result of the coronavirus crisis, families have encountered new types of risks that the existing social security system is unable to respond to.

Results from the study will be published in peer-reviewed journals.

The study is carried out in cooperation between Kela Research, the Itla Children’s Foundation and the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare (MLL). It is funded by Kela.

Project implementation period: April 2020–May 2023

Additional information: Ella Sihvonen and Miia Saarikallio-Torp, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Children’s residential arrangements after a separation or divorce

There are nearly 280,000 children and adolescents in Finland whose parents are separated or divorced. They include parents who live alternate weeks with their children, single parents, stepfamilies, resident parents, non-resident parents, etc. There are indications that it has become more common for children to live alternate weeks with each parent, but there is to date little research or statistical data on children’s residential arrangements. The lack of such information is a problem for efforts to restructure the systems offering benefits and services to families so as to cater better to parents’ and families’ needs even if the parents are separated.

This project looked at children’s residential arrangements in different family situations, parental participation in the custody and care of their children, and parents’ views on the challenges they have faced in gaining access to various benefits and services. Data was collected by means of an extensive survey among separated parents of children of various ages.

The project also produced data for comparative purposes about dual residence arrangements and how they are recognised by social security systems in different countries, and analysed the impact that recognising them would have on housing benefit expenditures in Finland.

The project is part of the Government’s analysis, assessment and research activities. It is a collaboration with the University of Turku Department of Social Research and the University of Tampere Department of Social Sciences.

The project’s final seminar was arranged as a webinar on 26 November 2020. Link to the seminar: https://sosiaalivakuutus.fi/verkkoseminaari-lapsen-kaksi-kotia-vuoroasumisen-ja-sosiaaliturvan-solmukohdat/

Part of Kela’s Working Papers series, the following publication looks at different countries’ policies for recognising dual residence in the social security system: Lapsen vuoroasuminen ja sosiaaliturva. 11 maan vertailu. (Social security and children in dual residence arrangements: An 11-country comparison)

Additional information: Anneli Miettinen, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Study on families with children

The focus of the research project is on mothers who have given birth in or after the year 2000 and on their families. The bulk of the data consists of a 60% sample of mothers who gave birth in 1999–2009. Included in the data is information about the benefits available from Kela and spells of benefit receipt as well as background information derived from the Statistics Finland labour force survey. Corresponding data are available for spouses. The data are representative and are used both for cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. The longest follow-up period allowed by the data is 10–11 years.

The project seeks 1) to shed light on the connections between family leave reforms and the sharing of family leaves between the spouses and the labour market status of mothers and fathers; 2) to produce more detailed information on families with children who have thus far not been received much research attention or who form such a small sub-group as to make them impracticable to study; and 3) to assess to what extent various features of employer companies can explain the use of family leaves and the distribution of paid leaves.

Project publications.

Working papers:

Publications and blogs related to the project:

  • Jussi Tervola: Maahanmuuttajien kotihoidon tuen käyttö 2000-luvulla. (Take-up of home care allowance among immigrant mothers in the 2000s.) Yhteiskuntapolitiikka 2015 80:2, 121–133. Permanent address of the publication: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi-fe201504162727
  • Anita Haataja: Kotihoidon tuki kehittyy omaan tahtiinsa Pohjoismaissa. (Home care allowance develops at its own pace in the Nordic countries.) Sosiaalivakuutus 17.03.2016.
  • Anita Haataja and Miia Saarikallio-Torp: Korvamerkityt rahat kannustavat isiä vapaille. (Earmarked payments encourage fathers to take parental leaves.) Sosiaalivakuutus 17.03.2016.
  • For issues related to the informal care of a sick child, see also the article by Johanna Hytönen: Hoivan ja tasa-arvon vaikea yhtälö. Sosiaalivakuutus, 17.03.2016. (The difficult equation between caring and equality.)
  • Jussi Tervola: Kotihoidon tuki vai kotouttaminen? (Home care allowance or integration?) Sosiaalivakuutus, 19.05.2016.
  • Jussi Tervola, Ann-Zofie Duvander, Eleonora Mussino: Promoting parental leave for immigrant fathers – what role does policy play?  Stockholm Research Reports in Demography 14, 2016.

Cooperation partners: Statistics Finland, Kela Actuarial & Statistical Department and IT Department, National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the VATT Institute for Economic Research.

Additional information: Miia Saarikallio-Torp, tel. 020 634 1968, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Child care arrangements of families living in Helsinki: Follow-up to the HELA project

This project is the second phase of a project looking into child care arrangements of families living in Helsinki (HELA project). The HELA project combines data on children attending early childhood education provided by the City of Helsinki and their families with data from Kela’s benefit register for the years 2008-2018. It is a collaborative project with the City of Helsinki’s Urban Research and Statistics Unit.

The project looks at families’ child care decisions in different situations and at times of change. Families’ decisions are studied using longitudinal data over a period of several years (from 2008 to 2018), which allows a look at the child care paths that individual families and children take from the end of parental leave until school age as well as at changes that have occurred over time in child care decisions and the factors associated with them. Among other issues, we look at the decisions made by families that include both children under three years of age who are in home care and children three and over. What kind of child care decisions do single-parent families, immigrant families, families where a parent is unemployed or families with a sick child make? How do families balance part-time work, (part-time) day care and home care, and to what extent do policy choices influence their choices? What family-related factors explain the regional differences in child care decisions within the City of Helsinki? How much socioeconomic and ethnic overrepresentation is there in regional day care enrolments? The study also looks at the connections that child care decisions have with children's health and well-being.

The project comprises several substudies.

Project publications.

Project implementation period: 1 March 2015–31 December 2023.

Karoliina Koskenvuo, Miia Saarikallio-Torp and Anneli Miettinen of Kela Research participate in the HELA project.

 Contact information: firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Survey on family leaves and the maternity package

Since 1999, Kela has conducted a variety of surveys to analyse clients’ experiences of the maternity package. Carried out in 2017, the survey on family leaves and the maternity package is the 10th study on the topic. 

It looks at the experiences and opinions of families that received a maternity package in 2015 or 2016 concerning the quality of the items in the package and how essential they are, and invites parents to say what changes they would like to see in the package. The survey also explores mothers’ views on the alternative family leave models that have been proposed in recent years.

The survey is based on questionnaire data collected electronically in April 2017. A total of 855 mothers completed the questionnaire, which was 36% of those who were sent it. Findings concerning the maternity package have been reported directly to Kela’s Family Benefits Section, which will use them to develop the maternity package further. 

Findings concerning a possible family leaves reform have been reported in Kela’s Research blog. More detailed results will be reported later.

Survey results:

Earlier publications:

Additional information: Hanna-Mari Heinonen, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Wellbeing of children and adolescents

Take-up of benefits and services for young people with particular reference to Kela-supported rehabilitation services, and the promotion of inclusion

The project looks at trends in the take-up of benefits and services aimed at young people, with particular reference to the rehabilitation services supported by Kela, taking into account the 2019 change in legislation aimed at helping young persons not in school or work or otherwise at risk of exclusion to more easily access the vocational rehabilitation services available from Kela and thereby make progress on their path to work and education.  The project looks at trends in young persons’ utilisation of benefits conditional on a medical diagnosis, such as disability pensions, and examines their benefit recipiency and life transitions for example after leaving a vocational rehabilitation programme. The project includes a collaborative study with the City of Espoo and the National Institute for Health and Welfare which looks at entire age cohorts by combining (starting with age cohort 1997) their benefit and service recipiency histories and factors predisposing them to or protecting them against marginalisation from childhood to adolescence/early adulthood. Particular attention is paid to the incidence of mental health problems and factors behind heavy service utilisation and recurrent benefit recipiency.

Additional information: Karoliina Koskenvuo, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Implementation of an education trial as part of vocational rehabilitation

This education trial conducted by Kela is aimed at young persons between 16 and 29 who have particular difficulty in finding a suitable education due to the presence of an illness or injury. The study seeks to produce data on the implementation and suitability of the education trial and its perceived benefits and effects, with the goal of helping to analyse the current status of the trial and any needs for development. Further, the study looks at the obstacles that young persons may have faced in joining the trial, and seeks to identify the factors that helped and supported them in that process. As reference, the study uses the COM-B model developed for the evaluation and planning of behaviour change interventions.

The project will be carried out between 1 September 2020 and 31 December 2021.

Additional information: Riitta Seppänen-Järvelä, tel. 020 634 1908, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Young persons and the conditionality of labour market subsidy payments on applying to an educational programme: Analysis from the perspectives of registries, educational institutions, labour administration and young persons

The aim of the project is to study whether the provision of the Unemployment Security Act which requires claimants to apply for enrolment in an educational programme is suited to its purpose and whether it increases young persons’ likelihood of completing an education and seeking employment. To qualify for unemployment benefits, young persons without vocational qualifications earned after leaving comprehensive school must apply yearly to at least two educational programmes which begin in the autumn term.  We analyse whether the age limit of 25 is appropriate and produce essential information to support efforts to develop the requirement further. The project includes a register-based study, which is carried out by Kela.

Additional information: Signe Jauhiainen, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Health and wellbeing of university students

The nationwide KOTT study of university students’ health and wellbeing regularly produces extensive data on students’ wellbeing. Comparable research data is not available from any other source. The next round of the study will begin in March 2020.

The study looks at university students’ physical and mental health, lifestyle, perceived wellbeing and social relationships and associated factors, as well as examines their ability to study and the support and services (such as rehabilitation) they may need to maintain it. 

The 2020 KOTT study is a collaboration between Kela and the National Institute for Health and Welfare. The previous studies were carried out by the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS). Also participating in the 2020 study are the FSHS, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Research Foundation for Studies and Education Otus, the Union of Students in Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences, the National Union of University Students in Finland, the Rectors’ Conference of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences, Universities Finland, and Statistics Finland.

Equality and social interactions

Impact of the coronavirus crisis on equality

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a broad impact on such issues as people’s health, well-being, economic security, labour market status and time use. Due to structural inequalities, the pandemic has not treated everyone the same way. Those whose situation was precarious to begin with, including persons with a migration background or who face challenges in the labour market, have suffered the most; at the same time, the pandemic and the measures taken to contain have clearly had gendered impacts. The coronavirus crisis is also a crisis of gender equality, one which may have long-lasting effects not only on economic equality but also on women’s labour market status, division of caregiving responsibilities, and gendered violence. The pandemic has also highlighted various dimensions of structural inequality as well as exposed problem points in gender quality, such as the segregation of the labour market and the uneven distribution of caregiving tasks. Despite all that, the gender perspective has featured very little in the efforts to formulate and implement policies in response to the crisis.

Coordinated by the National Institute for Welfare and Health, the project looking at the impact of the coronavirus crisis on gender equality in Finland offers badly needed information on the gender-specific impact, both short-term and long-term, of the COVID-19 pandemic and the policies implemented in response to it, as well as its consequences for the state of gender equality in Finland. Combining different scientific approaches and methods and drawing on both qualitative and quantitative data, the project brings together experts in social policy, gender research, sociology, labour studies, economics, demographic science and health research from the National Institute for Health and Welfare, Statistics Finland, Kela, and the University of Tampere. The information helps to further gender equality and to minimise negative gender impacts in the post-COVID era as well as offers an update on current needs for policy action on equality. The findings are expected to support efforts to effect change in gender equality, offer labour market organisations and companies information on the gendered impact of COVID-19 at the workplace, and raise public awareness of COVID-19 as a gender-related issue. They are an important contribution to international research on the gendered impact of COVID-19.

The project aims to produce research on the health, economic and social impact of COVID-19 on different male and female groups and on gender equality in society. The project consists of four sub-projects: The first sub-project looks at the impact of COVID-19 on health and wellbeing among different population groups. The second sub-project focuses on the impact that COVID-19 has had to date and its potential future impact on how women and men are positioned in the labour market and what conditions they face in the workplace. The third sub-project looks at the equality and gender effects of the economic policy measures adopted in response to COVID-19. Finally, the fourth sub-project examines the impact of COVID-19 on the distribution of caregiving tasks and the coping of parents, domestic violence and violence against women, and the wellbeing of students.

Cooperation partners: National Institute for Health and Welfare, Statistics Finland and the University of Tampere

Additional information: Tapio Räsänen, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

Customers’ interactions with Kela

Focusing on customers who have received a decision on an application for welfare benefits, this survey looks at the customer service processes they have gone through and the experiences they have had, and gathers opinions on Kela, Kela’s customer service channels and social security in general.

Additional information: Markku Laatu, tel. 020 634 1945, Hannu Mattila tel. 020 634 1956, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

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 2008-2018, 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 1,000. The persons interviewed represent the population that has reached the age of 15, excluding the Åland Islands.

Cooperation partner: Kantar TNS Oy.

Additional information: Hannu Mattila, tel. 050 551 8548, firstname.lastname@kela.fi

SustYouth: Young participants in activation programmes and their views on wellbeing, society, work and social security, analysed within a sustainable development framework

Based on group interview data, the SustYouth project investigates how young persons who have participated in an activation programme look at wellbeing, society, work and social security. It represents a qualitative discourse analysis based on the theory of sustainable wellbeing, critical research on social exclusion and the analytics of governance. Among the issues we look at is whether there is a resonance between the views held by the young persons and the Having-Loving-Doing-Being paradigm for sustainable wellbeing. What aspects of wellbeing are most central to young people? What do they consider a reasonable standard of living? How important is money to them? What are their views on the consumer society? How do and nature and the outdoors affect well-being? What does work mean to them and what do they expect from it? How do they experience the support and treatment they get from the social security system and how does it affect their wellbeing? The study will be completed in 2020.

Cooperation partner: Tuuli Hirvilammi (University of Tampere). The project was launched in conjunction with the ECOSOS project of the University of Jyväskylä (The Contribution of Social Work and Social Policy in Ecosocial Transition of Society)

Additional information: Tuula Helne, tel. 020 634 1582, firstname.lastname@kela.fi