THL's evaluation: Contradictions in the overall impacts of the Government Programme on the lives of young adults

Publication date 29.4.2024 2.00
Press release

THL's new report finds that Prime Minister Petteri Orpo's Government Programme strongly highlights young people, but its objectives and entries are in part contradictory. According to THL's assessment, the Government Programme contains positive objectives related to young people's everyday lives, but at the same time, the lack of funding or cuts from factors supporting the objectives may dilute the impacts.

The Government Programme aims to invest in young people, for example by increasing the number of young adults with a higher education and by investing in study guidance and multiprofessional support in general upper secondary schools. However, savings cuts will be made at the same time to things that affect the daily lives of young people, which raises concern on how well students will be able to study. 

According to recent estimates, one in five people aged 20 have received public health care assistance due to mental health problems and one in three reported severe symptoms of depression or anxiety. Specialists feel that it is likely that a young person, who is depressed or anxious, will not be able to fulfil additional obligations.

"Mental wellbeing is reflected in the ability to study, find employment, start a family and be part of society. It is great that young adults play such a central role in the Government Programme. Even so, when the proposals as a whole are examined, there is doubt about how the set objectives can be achieved," says Outi Linnaranta, Chief Physician at THL.

The assessment does not take into account the decisions adopted during April's government discussions on spending limits.

"In addition, the decisions made in during April's spending limits discussion, such as the transfer of the student housing allowance back from the general housing allowance to a student housing allowance will weaken the standing of students in the challenging economic environment," Linnaranta continues.

Cuts that impact the everyday life of young people can have not only immediate but also long-term impacts that will stay with them long into adulthood.

"Young people will have less room to manoeuvre in life due to the cuts. The idea has been that if the Government Programme is implemented, it would increase employment and improve the dependency ratio. However, the effect may be the opposite for many young people. It may even be that these decisions will further increase the anxiety of young adults and increase the duration of their studies," says Linnaranta.

According to specialists, previous budget decisions are partly at odds with the higher-level objectives of the Government Programme.

"For example, the discontinuation of the adult education allowance and index freezing of student financial aid are at odds with the objective of additional training. This can result in e.g. young people postponing their plans to move into their own place and difficulties in attaining further training after completing a degree," says Päivi Lindberg, Chief Specialist at THL.

"In view of the Government's mid-term budget discussions in 2025, the Government Programme contains objectives that should be supported, such as strengthening of social justice. Its implementation must be examined as a whole, taking into account such factors as cuts in housing allowance", Lindberg continues.

Examples of entries in the Government Programme (GP)

  • GP: Aims to secure income during studies, strengthen incentive elements of student financial aid and support the completion of studies within the target time.
    • Budget: The student financial aid index is to be frozen.
    • According to THL's evaluation, the measures will increase the debts incurred by students, increase concerns about their own coping during the studies and thus have a negative impact on the mental wellbeing of young people.
  • GP: Places a special emphasis on young homeless people in the elimination of homelessness. Promotes the establishment of supported housing units for young people.
    • Budget: Grants for eliminating homelessness and developing statistics on homelessness EUR 0; Housing advisory activities EUR 0; Development and expansion of housing advisory services MEUR 2 in 2023-2027 (amount halved from original).
    • Budget: Annual cuts in housing allowance: 2024 MEUR -180 ; 2025 MEUR -363; 2026 MEUR -363; 2027 MEUR -363; 2028 MEUR -363
    • According to THL's evaluation, young people have a better opportunity to apply for and receive support for the social problems linked to homelessness. At the same time, however, housing allowances will be cut substantially. The largest group receiving a housing allowance are people aged 15-29.
  • GP: Acknowledges the importance of liberal adult education in increasing competence and in participation in leisure activities. The Government will increase its the share of fees paid by users for recreational activities for adults in liberal adult education.
    • Budget: Central government funding will be reduced and student fees for liberal adult education will be increased accordingly: Adult education centres MEUR -€12.5; Study centres MEUR -7; Summer universities MEUR -2; Folk high schools MEUR -2 ; Sports institutes MEUR -1.5
    • According to THL's evaluation, the measures are inconsistent. Liberal adult education is recognised in the Government Programme as a significant provider of education and physical activity that the Government wants to strengthen. At the same time, central government funding will be reduced and student fees will be increased. This change may affect in particular people with low incomes and those living in small and remote locations.

More information:

How to assess the mental health impact of the Government Programme – focus on young adults
(in Finnish)

Päivi Lindberg (young people in the Government Programme)
Chief Specialist
Tel. +358 29 524 7648

Outi Linnaranta (impacts on mental wellbeing)
Chief Physician
Tel. +358 29 524 7517

[email protected] 

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