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Success Stories: Policy Engagement

By providing research-based information to policy-making processes we have made an impact especially in the fields of social policy and education policy. These are the tangible things we have done for the New Welfare State.

Basic Income Experiment

INVEST was perseveringly involved in the scientific evaluation of the Finnish Basic Income Experiment which was the world’s first statutory, nationwide and randomized basic income experiment evaluation led by PI Olli Kangas. The findings on the employment and well-being of the participants of the experiment released in May 2020 aroused exceptional interest both domestically and internationally.

Social Security Reform

With the objective of creating a more effective system for people, enabling the reconciliation of work and social security in changing life situations in Finland, a parliamentary Social Security Committee was set up in 2020 to prepare the reform by 2027. PI Pasi Moisio acts as the Chair of the Committee and leads the reform.

Other researchers engaged include Heikki Hiilamo, Jussi Tervola, and PI Olli Kangas, who is in charge of the collaboration with the Strategic Research Council programmes.

Jani Erola has negotiated a similar commission with the committee on social inequality and taken an active role as a mediator between the Flagship programmes and the committee.

Joint parenting and dual residence

Other social policy engagements have included interaction with e.g. the officials of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. For instance, Mia Hakovirta engaged with policy makers on the challenges related to the legislation on the social services and benefits in joint parenting and dual residence.

Families with children

In 2020, Hakovirta also co-edited a book with Johanna Kallio on disadvantages and poverty in families with children. The book received considerable national visibility.

Both act as Heideken Science Liaisons, a cooperation initiative between INVEST and the third sector child welfare organisations in the Southwest Finland area, the Centre for Education and Research on Social and Health Services and Åbo Akademi University. The cooperation has enabled us to provide evidence-based support for the local level policy actors, such as the City of Turku officials.

Demographic development

INVEST has also been involved in a project related to the current demographic situation in Finland launched by the Prime Minister’s Office in June 2020. The aim is to examine and produce a report on the causes of the current situation and to make policy recommendations to ensure sustainable demographic development. Co-PI Marika Jalovaara has acted as a member of the scientific panel and given several presentations on family and fertility developments to decision makers and actors representing different Finnish parliamentary groups and e.g. the Finnish Centre for Pensions, the Central Union for Child Welfare, the Central Finland’s Future Forum and Sitra.

Government Programme

Sanna Marin’s Government Programme “Inclusive and competent Finland – a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable society” includes many objectives where INVEST expertise have had impact. Several PI’s and researchers were invited to expert hearings in the negotiations for the government programme in May 2019. PI Pasi Moisio and Co-PI Maria Vaalavuo, for instance, gave a statement for the programme objective of Fair, equal and inclusive Finland, and Co-PI Tiina Ristikari for the programme objective of Safe and secure Finland built on the rule of law.

Wellbeing of children and youth

In January 2021, the Finnish Government published 14 antibullying measures for the running reign. Some of the measures outlined are based on INVEST research. Measure 1, for instance, states that social and emotional learning will be strengthened in early childhood education and that a related development programme will be implemented and Measure 12 that the Opintokamu® programme, one of our social innovations, will be used for improving upper secondary and vocational schools students’ well-being.

Access to administrative register data

Providing access to administrative register data and the ability to use it for research and policy purposes has been seen as one of the key areas where the collaboration between government offices, Statistics Finland and the novel Findata secondary data use permission authority should be improved. For these purposes, the Ministry of Finances and MEC launched a working group that provided a recommendation report in June 2020. Jani Erola acted as a member of the group.

International memberships on panels etc

INVEST influences on welfare policy also on the international level. PI Olli Kangas is the Finnish country expert in the European Social Policy Network (ESPN), which supports the European Commission in monitoring progress towards the EU social protection and social inclusion objectives set out in the Europe 2020 strategy. He also represented Finland in the EU-based Feasibility Study for a Child Guarantee, which aimed to explore how a child guarantee scheme could contribute to combating poverty and social exclusion amongst children and provided a thorough analysis of the design, governance and implementation of existing schemes.

Furthermore, Kangas participated in the ILO Round Table 10 on universal child benefits in 2020, which looked in detail at the pathways that countries can take to increasing social protection coverage for children and families towards universality.

The INVEST microsimulation research team, led by Co-PI Jussi Tervola, in turn, was invited for an expert collaboration on the distributional impact assessment (DIA) by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. The aim was to map how EU countries use distributional impact assessment. The microsimulation team has rapidly expanded as the leading expert centre for distributional impact assessment in Finland and e.g. provided the DIA for the latest Economic Policy Council Report.

For the purpose of tackling school bullying, UNESCO invited PI Christina Salmivalli to join an international panel of experts in 2020. The panel made practical evidence-based recommendations to policy-makers, including Ministers of Education, across the world on what governments should do to maximise the implementation of comprehensive education sector responses to school bullying.

Jani Erola, in turn, was invited to give an opening presentation in an Expert workshop “Reversing Inequalities” for the “European Forum for Science and Sustainability 2020”, organized by the European Commission and German Ministry of Education and Research in October. He was also invited to an expert panel discussion “Beyond Covid: Population challenges ahead”, organised in December 2020 by Population Europe and acts as a member of the European Association of Population Studies working group for the Group on Child and Adolescent Development.