Research programme 2020-2022

Our vision:

To produce impactful research that contributes to advances in social and health protection

  • We carry out topical and multidisciplinary research on issues that are relevant domestically and internationally.
  • We understand Kela’s client base and information resources.
  • We are a creative and dynamic partner and communicator.

Kela Research is a research community capable of renewal and cooperation

Our values are to be reliable, impactful and open to cooperation. We produce independent, multidisciplinary and high-quality research, and participate in public policy discourse.

We look for answers to the questions of today

Our research programme is founded upon our traditional strengths in social and health security. In addition to our long-run research agenda, we produce and interpret findings for society’s current needs on an expedited basis if needed, such as those stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Through research, we support Kela’s new strategy, which puts our customers at the centre of everything we do. The studies we produce and the expertise we offer support efforts to modernise social welfare and healthcare structures as well as contribute to the work of the committee preparing an overall reform of the Finnish social security system.

We obtain data from diverse sources and analyse it comprehensively

Our main source of data is Kela’s benefit register, which we combine with other register-based data sources. In addition, we collect data by means of surveys and interviews. We employ novel methods to find innovative approaches. We make an effort to analyse more extensive and diversified sets of data, so as to understand what goes into the overall framework of social benefits and services are customers face. In this programme period, our main collaboration partner are the municipalities. We will continue to cooperate closely with our domestic and international research partners.

Sustainable and innovative social and health security that produces wellbeing at individual and societal levels

The goal with all of our research projects is to produce data that supports the wellbeing of individuals and of society at large. Building on our 50-year research experience, we produce findings that can drive a more fair and equitable society and a sustainable and innovative system of social and health security. The promotion of employment and inclusion is a particular focus area.

In our research programme, we recognise current megatrends, some of the most important of which include demographic change, the scarcity of resources, regional disparities, and the growth of cities. Other topics addressed by our researchers include work and technological change, climate change and multiculturality.

Focus areas for research

Our research is centred around specific focus areas in which we carry out both long-run research and quick analyses of current topics. Some of the topics relate to more than one focus area. In each focus area, we seek to meet existing needs for new information, for example about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Finnish society.

Economic security

We examine how economic security is structured around earned income, social security benefits and expenses, and look at how the economic security system works for individuals in different circumstances. Our research contributes to the modernisation of social security and the promotion of employment. Key themes of our research include the evaluation of the basic income experiment and the study of the social assistance and housing benefit systems. We produce research findings to underpin future social reforms. We use microsimulation methods to analyse in advance the effects that proposed changes to legislation could have.

Effective services

We support the ongoing development of the system of social benefits and services by evaluating the functioning of the existing system. The use and costs of pharmaceuticals, the problems associated with pharmaceutical therapies, the prescribing of drugs, and the drug reimbursement system are some of our main topics. In addition, we examine rehabilitation services and systems, the overhaul of occupational healthcare compensations, and the student health services. The Kanta services are our latest topic of research.

Work capacity and functioning

We produce data on the population’s work capacity and functioning and on the services designed to improve it. We look at the take-up of disability and rehabilitation benefits and the processes related to work disability. We also examine how rehabilitation services can help to promote work capacity and functioning as well as prevent and shorten periods of incapacity and sickness absence. Our research produces findings that can support the labour participation of persons with partial work capacity or with special needs.


We produce data to support the family leave reform and to shed light on future questions relevant to family policy. The take-up of family leaves is one of our main topics of research. We look at the long-term effects of family leaves and various child care arrangements on the labour market status of mothers and fathers and on the health and wellbeing of children and parents. We investigate the challenges associated with family diversity and the existing benefit structures. We examine ways to achieve coordination between dual residence arrangements and the benefit system.

Child and adolescent wellbeing

Our topics include the health, functional status and economic security of children and adolescents and NEET youth. In the studies focusing on adolescents, we look at the effectiveness of services that promote their ability to work and study. In addition, we examine whether improved access to vocational rehabilitation has affected the take-up of sickness-related benefits, the ability to study, and the chances of entering the working world. We are also helping to develop the data analytics and machine-learning models designed to recognise risks of marginalisation among young persons.

Equality and social interactions

We look at the problems faced by the most vulnerable of our clients and examine their rights, equal treatment, interactions and ability to conduct their personal affairs. We analyse the changes taking place in the society at large and explore domestic and international challenges, including the global crisis of sustainability. We investigate these issues from the perspectives of our operating environment, the social security system, our clients, and the delivery of customer service. Regional disparities and the challenges of equal treatment inherent in the transition to digital service delivery are also among our research topics.