Second Edition Country Perspectives on Diversity and Equal Treatment
Edited by Alain Klarsfeld, Lize A.E. Booysen, Eddy Ng, Ian Roper and Ahu Tatli
Chapter 4: Equality and diversity in Finland: from separate to intertwined concepts
Diversity and equality are best understood as contextual concepts. The meanings and the consequences they have are embedded in the socio-historical contexts in which they are used. The aim of this chapter is to explore the meanings of equality and diversity in the context of Finnish working life. Finland is a republic located in Northern Europe and shares borders with Sweden, Norway and Russia. In 2009, Finland had a population of 5 326 314 people, and it has been independent since 1917. Before becoming independent, Finland was a Grand-Duchy of the Russian Empire (1809-1917) and a part of the Swedish kingdom prior to this until 1809. In Finland, equality between people has been a central constitutional value since independence, and Finland is in many regards an equal society. According to the World Economic Forum's 2011 Gender Gap Report, for instance, where gender equality is measured in terms of economic, educational, political and health based criteria, Finland ranked as the third most equal country (Hausman et al., 2011). Finland also has several recognized national minorities that are taken into consideration in legislation and that are provided with group-specific services (Forsander and Ekholm, 2001). The income disparities between Finnish residents have also been moderate for a long time. In 2005, Finland had the fourth lowest income disparities among 27 European countries, ranking behind Sweden, Iceland and Denmark. Between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s, income disparities significantly decreased, after which they remained stable until the economic depression of the 1990s.
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