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Pohjolan Sanomat

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Päivitetty 10.9.2010 09:20, julkaistu 10.9.2010 09:11

Very Few Foreigners In Finland. So What?

Again we hear about the very low figures for Finland in the ratio of Finns to foreigners. Finland has, we are told, very few foreigners when compared to other European countries. So what? What does this really mean? That we are not told. Dangerous reporting this. Bad reporting too.

This kind of reporting and this kind of political commentry is, in fact, next to useless. What does it really mean when Finland has under 3%, Sweden and Denmark and Norway are rated as about 6% which is about the European average and Luxemburg has about 44% of their residents classified as of foreign extract? What do these figures really mean?

As far as the main reporting and political comment goes, this far, these figures mean little or nothing. However some are saying that Finland does not have a problem with the foreigner type resident. Others are saying that this shows that Finland is doing well and not being overtaken by foreigners. Then some say that Finland now needs to catch up to the European average. Nobody yet, as far as I can tell, has come out and said that Luxemburg has got it right as is shown by the good reports on its living conditions.

These kinds of figures are branded around by various ”self-styled objective media” as if they are meaningful. The trouble here is that they are not meaningful at all. Not by themselves.

If it is found that the average foot size for Finns is 41 we ask so what. But then the businesses that make shoes will say that this is good information for us although we need these averages for many different cateogories of Finns if this information is to be useful for our marketing teams. The same business sense needs to taken to these foreigner figures so that they might be meaningful in certain socio-economic and cultural contexts.

The 3 % figure for Finland is a glimpse into meaningless statistics. The trouble here is that such reported figures allow and even promote various ideological campaigners to say this or that piece of rubbish.

Before we can begin decent debates on the goods and the bads of foreigner-type residence we must take some time and effort to identify various and relevant parameters so that our statistical work may make reasonable sense.

For example. Concerning the Finnish population as a whole we might ask ourselves just what numbers are involved when we consider a happy and flourishing living space. How many people can live close together and in confined spaces and still feel a sense of wellbeing? How many is too much? When do we fall into the ”rat trap” where human beings tend to go a little mad in an urban jungle? The point is that we must work with statistics as a social thing. The numbers by themselves are just that. Mere numbers.

There are many different contexts for us to work with statistical information vis-a-vis the foreigner issues. The point is this. We must work hard to make statistics sensible. We must work in a social-context without fail.

Again and for example we need to use statistics in the context of ”compatability”. Which foreigner is better suited to be compatable with an existing Finnish culture? Of course then we must look even deeper to check our grand terms like ”foreigner” and ”Finnish Culture”. But this hard work must be done. This hard work has not yet been done well by either the general media or the political spokespersons.

Yet again we must be careful when the statistics are related to the employment and labour market. Yes this is a valid context for social statistics but still the questions remain as to which jobs and why. Which foreigners and why?

But today my main point is a simple one. We must demand that such bad statistical reporting is critiqued at every opportunity. If we do not do this then all kinds of pathetic propaganda will emerge and little good come of it all.

I am not saying here that the figures (reported throughout Finland) coming from ”EUROSTAT” are wrong. I am not saying that these Eurostat figures are biased and insignificant. I am saying that they are meaningless. To make such statistics meaningful we must interepret the figures in a valid social context.

Steve Bowles


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