The welfare of immigrant population in Finland is good on average, but loneliness and discrimination overshadow health and wellbeing

Publication date 3 Nov 2023

On average, the welfare of the immigrant population in Finland is good based on the recent MoniSuomi survey by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

The majority of immigrants have at least one friend in Finland and a moderately strong experience of inclusion and the safety of their daily lives. Most immigrants find their health good and report fewer long-term illnesses than the total population on average. Approximately half of the immigrants also exercise in accordance with the recommendation for endurance exercise performance.

On the other hand, there are still major differences in the health, welfare and experiences of inclusion between the background countries and genders. Challenges in these areas are related to, for example, loneliness, experiences of discrimination, difficulties in earning a livelihood and access to the necessary health services. 

Loneliness is common among young immigrant men

According to the study, 14 per cent of all immigrants feel lonely. One out of five men aged 20–29 report feeling lonely. One in four men from the Middle East and North Africa feel lonely, and loneliness in this group has clearly increased since 2018. 

Approximately four out of five immigrants have at least one friend in Finland, but when examined by background country group and gender, there is considerable variation: only 68% of men from the Middle East and North African countries and 73% of women from the same background country group have a friend in Finland, whereas nine out of ten of those from Russia, the former Soviet Union and Estonia have a friend living in Finland.

“Many factors can explain the loneliness experienced by immigrants, such as employment challenges, lack of support networks or experiences of discrimination. Individual reasons must also be taken into account. Loneliness is always a threat to mental health and wellbeing, which is why the receptiveness of society should be developed and immigrants should be provided with clear guidance and advice on the available services and how to access them,” says Hannamaria Kuusio, Research Manager at THL.

Experiences of discrimination are common among people from Africa and the Middle East

Experiences of discrimination are very common among immigrants, as 42 per cent have experienced discrimination during the previous year. In some groups, experiences of discrimination are even more common. For example, as many as 63 per cent of men from African countries (excluding North Africa) and 58 per cent of men who have moved to Finland from the Middle East and North Africa report that they have experienced discrimination in Finland. 

“Discrimination takes place everywhere in our society and often even in invisible ways, for example in job seeking and working life, services and encounters with the authorities, studies and housing, in public places and online. Therefore, we should all intervene in discrimination and be involved in active anti-racism,” says Anu Castaneda, Research Professor at THL.

The MoniSuomi survey examined the health, well-being and experiences of social welfare and health care services of the foreign-born adult population living in Finland. The information was collected between September and March 2022. The survey was responded to by 7,838 people who were themselves or whose parents were born outside Finland. The persons invited to the MoniSuomi survey were aged between 20 and 74 years.

The cooperation partners and funders of the MoniSuomi survey were the Centre of Expertise in Immigrant Integration of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Turku,


Findings of the MoniSuomi study

National study on the health, welfare and services of the foreign-born population – MoniSuomi 2022 Key observations to support decision-making. Research in brief 54/2023, THL. 

Further information

Hannamaria Kuusio
Research Manager
Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
tel. +358 29 524 7657
[email protected]

Anu Castaneda
Research Professor
Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
tel. +358 29 524 7848
[email protected] 


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