National Problems in Transnationalizing Europe: A Finnish Case-Study of Welfare State Brain-Drain

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - Room 134 (University of Glasgow)
Johannes Niemelainen , Business and Management, Lappeenranta University of Technology
Juho Topias Korhonen , Sociology, Brown University
Data from our recent survey about future prospects of young Finnish professionals working abroad (n=800), part of a growing number of Finns leaving the country, highlights complications between a national welfare state and transnationalizing cultural and working lives.

Pre-financial crisis Finns moved abroad “because they could” (Koikkalainen 2009). Our new data suggests change. Not only does work but also culture, identity, quality of living, and future prospects drive Finns abroad. Of the respondents now 18% consider it likely to return to Finland, down from 40% pre-crisis.

Beyond results from our survey and 20 follow-up interviews, we describe an emerging trend, worrisome to the Finnish state. If current trends continue, Finland will lose 0.5% of its young and educated yearly and, losing in attractiveness to its European peers, is not replacing them, while also the relative portion of young and educated in Finland is shrinking. These processes have the potential to exacerbate each other.

Transnationalization of young professionals’ identities is connected to the changing role of the structures of (welfare) nation-states in a global knowledge economy. Put simply, the nation-state no longer provides a working environment to seek solutions for emergent problems, or provide support for future aspirations of young educated Finns. While young and educated Finnish professionals have been well poised to counter challenges posed by austerity and the transnationalization of work, this has led to increasing brain-drain from Finland as the reactions of the national state as a whole have misaligned with individual actors’ strategies.

  • KorhonenNiemelainenDraftGlasgow.pdf (355.0 kB)