One in eight slips below poverty line in Finland

09:52, November 03, 2010      

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The number of poor in Finland was growing at an increasing pace, local media reported Tuesday.

According to EU and OECD standards, between 600,000 and 700,000 people in the country are classified as living in poverty, which is roughly 13 percent of the whole population. The status of the unemployed, in particular, has worsened as benefits have not kept up with the general rise in income levels.

Many people in Helsinki struggle to make ends meet. Nasu Kuuvalo is a department store sales clerk, earning 1,300 euros (1,823 U.S. dollars) per month, 150 euros (210 U.S. dollars) above the official poverty line.

"I pay my bills, buy food and that's all my money. I've had to give up the membership of a gym," she said.

In Helsinki, the number of poor had jumped by the end of 1990s. The increase has been explained by structural changes in the economy and the bursting of the IT bubble at the beginning of the 2000s, according to Finnish media reports.

"In Helsinki, 14 percent of the population live below the poverty line," said Leena Hietaniemi, researcher of Helsinki's urban facts department.

The numbers continue to increase. Many dwellers in the capital have to depend on the welfare safety net to survive. More than one in 10 working people in Helsinki receive income support, a subsidy reserved for those struggling to afford basic necessities.

"Living costs are high in the capital region. Households are forced to rely on public sector support, such as housing subsidies," Hietaniemi said.

The latest income tax data released on Monday, however, indicated that the income gap narrowed during the recession. Last year, incomes rose by 1 percent on average. Researchers expect the gap to widen again as the economy recovers.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:张茜)

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