Young People with Debt Problems: Uncertain Transition to Adulthood in Finland

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 5:45 PM
Room: F204
Oral Presentation
Atte OKSANEN , General Research Unit, National Research Inst Legal Policy, Helsinki, Finland
Kati RANTALA , National Research Institute of Legal Policy, Finland, Helsinki, Finland
Gaining financial independence is a part of becoming an adult in Finnish society and culture. In this paper, we discuss the debt problems faced by young people who struggle to gain agency in their early adulthood of age 18–25. The aim of this paper is to see what the transition to adulthood means in relation to debt problems. Official data on registered debt problems by young people will be analyzed in this paper. The data was gathered by using the official debt enforcement register of the Finnish Legal register center (on debt collection rulings, fines and other sanctions). The analysis of this register-based data concentrated on showing how debt problems start to accumulate and what kind of specific debt problems young are facing. Socio-demographic background is taken into consideration in the analysis. Our results show the debt problems of minors under 18 years of age result mostly from fines or other sanctions imposed upon them by public agencies, or because of their parents. Approximately at the age of 19 debt problems increase dramatically and involve most importantly debts from consuming. Registered payment defaults by young people have been increasing in recent years in Finland. Instant loans with high interest are one major source eventual escalation of debt problems, and new concerns have arisen on unpaid rents. Finnish young people are struggling to gain agency through economic independency, but at the same time they have to balance the financial risks they are taking. Since most of the young people and young adults study until their mid-twenties, youth in Finland are placed in a waiting period between youth and adulthood. The current economic crisis in Europe has intensified the risky outcomes of this age of transition.