Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Everyday Well-Being in Connection with Health in Immigrant Families with Children-A Study on the Everyday Life of Families with Russian Background in Finland

Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Everyday Well-Being in Connection with Health in Immigrant Families with Children-A Study on the Everyday Life of Families with Russian Background in Finland

Article excerpt

Introduction

This study discusses the everyday well-being and health in families with children with Russian background from the presumption that the everyday well-being is reflective of how families express their satisfaction with their current life situation. The framework is based on the understanding that poverty is reflected in the well-being and has a negative impact on parenthood, home atmosphere, family structure, and the resources available. In the family, well-being is based on intimate human relationships and individual needs, whereas government support is based on citizenship and political decision-making. (Moisio 2005, 6.)

This social work study has a multidisciplinary approach. It has links to preventive family work and service system, but it also pertains to sociological family research - especially the areas of everyday life and family research--and to social political welfare research that connects working life and welfare state research. Life satisfaction research is close to the quality of life research, not in relation to happiness but in relation to satisfaction with the immigrants' current life situation.

The Framework of the Study

Finland was suffering from economic recession in the 1990s. At the end of 1980s the average unemployment rate was only 3 % and people had unrealistic expectations of continuous economic growth. Their dreams were suddenly killed and the unemployment rate went up to almost 20 % in a few years. Many companies went bankrupt. Until then Finland had been a homogenous society leaning on the principles of equality of citizens. Like other Nordic countries, Finland has been called a welfare state that provides all Finnish citizens with a health insurance. The Finnish insurance system also guarantees subsistence after having children. Maternity or parental allowance give parents the possibility to take care of the child at home for one year. Finland places a strong emphasis on ensuring equal services for all people. So there have been difficulties to understand differences and give the right to different services (Anis 2007, 31).

Although the preconditions for Finnish well-being have improved even further since the early days of the welfare state, the first decade of the 21st century saw the diversification and polarisation of population. It is connected to the backlash of recession and also to the new liberal thinking of constructing Finnish society. Earlier left-wing parties had more power in Finnish politics, but now there are more right-wing parties in leading positions in the government. To use a dramatic metaphor, polarisation divides people into poor and rich, into those who are well off and those who are badly off. However, most Finnish people belong to the middle class. A new development in Finland is that there is an increasing number of people who are getting very rich and another group that is getting very poor. In other countries there are already sad examples of this kind of development (see Scarr 1994, 90) which is not completely new in Finnish history. At the end of 1980s, the question of social classes was rarely discussed, but now it has been brought up again. The divide between social classes is more sophisticated than in the earlier days, taking into account such aspects as a person's life style in addition to their position in working life and finances.

At the same time with the increasing polarisation, Finland's economic situation is globally seen as being very strong. Therefore it is confusing to see how poor and sick people are queuing up for free food from such charities as the Salvation Army. That this should happened in Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is very disquieting. One reason for this is unemployment and the other is the low level of different allowances. The third reason is that food is very expensive in Finland. Polarisation is usually connected to the social division of the labour force according to salaries and the unemployment rate (Taimio 2004, 1). …

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