Inequalities in Young People in Finland – a Comprehensive View on Dimensions of Well-Being

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Laura KESTILÄ, National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Finland
Sakari KARVONEN, National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Finland
Suvi PARIKKA, National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Finland
Background: Differences in well-being have roots in childhood living conditions and early experiences that develop over the life-course. There is some evidence that inequalities in well-being exist already in youth but most studies focus either on single indicators or on a specific dimension. Few studies are able to provide a comprehensive view covering several dimensions of well-being. Objectives: Following Erik Allardt’s conceptualization, we defined three dimensions of well-being: having (material and impersonal needs), loving (social needs) and being (identity i.e. needs for personal growth). The study aims to explore how different dimensions of well-being in youth are structured by socioeconomic status. More specifically, we analysed how well-being of young people aged 14 to 18 old varies by i. the family background (mother’s level of education) and ii. the type of secondary level school (vocational institutes (VI) vs. upper secondary general schools (USGS)), and in addition, whether these intersect with gender. Furthermore, secular trends between 2013 and 2017 in the social patterning of well-being were analysed. Data: Questionnaire data derive from the School Health Promotion Study that covers biannually all Finnish primary schools (response rate 63%) and USGS (50%) and VI’s (40%). Results: The results indicate that well-being of young people varies clearly by mother´s educational level but differences are smaller according to the type of the secondary level school. Gender, however, interacts with both family background and the type of school. Over the study period the inequalities observed seemed to vary quite little regardless of the level of the factor. Conclusions: Young people having a mother with only basic education appear quite consistently worse off suggesting that the differences deriving from childhood are important in diversifying the life-course in youth. However, these associations are not uniform as gender and to some extent also the type of school intersects with them.