Research Flagship Aiming at Decreasing Inequality and Renewing Welfare State through Interventions Received €8.25 Million in Funding

The research project Inequalities, Interventions, and New Welfare State (INVEST) of the University of Turku has received significant funding.

Having received €8.25 million in funding for 2019–2022 from the flagship programme of the Academy of Finland, the INVEST project focuses on decreasing societal inequality and renewing the welfare state. The well-being during childhood, youth, and early adulthood is improved by developing new interventions.

The project is led by Professor of Sociology at the University of Turku Jani Erola. The project is carried out jointly by the University of Turku and the National Institute for Health and Welfare. The share of the University of Turku of the funding is €6.8 million and that of the National Institute for Health and Welfare is €1.45 million.

Behind INVEST, there are six already functioning research and development projects led by Christina Salmivalli, Mikko Niemelä, Olli Kangas, Andre Sourander, and Pasi Moisio.

– The Nordic welfare state has been a fantastic success story. However, as the population is ageing and the birth rates are falling, funding it in its current form is becoming increasingly challenging. In addition, it has become obvious that despite of success, the differences in well-being between different groups are difficult to tackle using the current means. Our aim is to offer Finland and other societies a model of the welfare state that is more equal and more sustainable in terms of economy, population, and social issues than the current model, says Professor Jani Erola.

The goals will be achieved by exploring the factors limiting the development of the competence and well-being of children and young people, identifying the related gaps in the welfare state’s existing support and services, and developing interventions based on research in order to fill the gaps.

– INVEST is a part of the multidisciplinary thematic collaboration of the University of Turku that focuses on children, young people and learning. It increases the University’s international visibility and emphasises our role as a strong and effective research university. The co-operation with the National Institute for Health and Welfare enables setting joint research goals and utilising data extensively, says Vice Rector responsible for research of the University of Turku Kalle-Antti Suominen.

The participating projects include the APEX project promoting the mental well-being of families regardless of their socio-economic environment, education, geographical location or ethnic background, the INDIRECT project exploring the intergenerational inheritance of socio-economic attainment, and the consortium project TITA tackling inequalities in time of austerity. Additionally, the project involves three research and intervention projects developed at the University of Turku: the KiVa Antibullying Program, the Opintokamu programme offering tools for student well-being in the secondary educational institutes, and the Voimaperheet model aiming at the early identification and preventive treatment of children’s behaviour problems.

The aim of the flagship programme of the Academy of Finland is to strengthen the clusters of expertise of high-quality research and interaction and, thus, further increase their quality and impact. In the flagship funding receiving projects, high-quality research is combined with strong societal impact.

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