At rank 3, Finland’s status performance is top-notch (+1 rank relative to SGI 2009).
The country represents in many ways a model democracy in which political liberties, the public deliberation of policies and freedom of expression are nurtured.
Following contraction in 2009, the general decline of the economy seems to have leveled out. SGI indicators suggest that a forceful post-recession exit strategy is under way.
Noteworthy are equitable education policies and generous R&D spending which have helped the country earn its reputation of being particularly innovative.
Together with Norway and Sweden, Finland leads the democracy category.
The electoral process is, apart from some secretiveness concerning political financing, largely fair. Access to information and civil rights protection are exceptionally good. Finland has continually achieved top positions in established rankings for political liberties and civil rights as well as those regarding press freedom.
Some minor shortcomings are apparent. The previously excellent performance regarding corruption has been deteriorating. Moreover, there is no agreement on a reform to increase proportionality of the Finnish electoral system. The appointment processes of justices, while formally transparent, do not stir up much attention and do not recieve full coverage by the media.
Finland moved up from position 9 to position 6 in the ranking of economic policy (relative to SGI 2009).
Finland’s economic policy is strongly focused on growth through the development and innovative use of technology.
Although the crisis had a negative effect on long-term unemployment in the country, economic performance and competitiveness remain relatively strong compared with other OECD member states.
Taxation policies are well-balanced and perform effectively. Adjustments in recent years have made the taxation system less complex and more transparent. A fiscal consolidation program significantly reduced expenditures, and budget surpluses are helping pay down accumulated debt.
At rank 7, Finland’s social affairs rating remains quite high in international comparison.
Health care policy is efficient, achieving a very low infant mortality among other measures. However, local government resources for health care remain insufficient.
The income equalization system is one of the EU’s most efficient in terms of poverty reduction, though some relative poverty remains.
The state contributes to the expenses of child rearing. In pension policy, the country’s mix of public and private pension schemes appears efficient and able to prevent senior-citizen poverty.
Whereas Finnish immigration policy has traditionally focused on humanitarian issues, it has lately switched to a focus on work-driven immigration.
Finland’s external security strategy relies almost exclusively on its own military forces, which are based on compulsory military service, high standards of technical equipment and widespread citizen support for defense policy.
As long as accession to NATO remains just an option and not a policy, the external security policy of Finland revolves for the most part around the EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy.
Achievements in internal security are satisfactory. Although the rate of violent crime is relatively high, Finland is still one of the safest countries in Europe. Citizens tend to regard the police as the perhaps most reliable institution in society.
With a very strong record of sustainability, Finland continues to be the top performer in the resources category.
Enhancing environmental policy has been an objective since the 1970s. Nature reserves have been established, and the protection of forests is well developed.
Finland is a leader in terms of R&D spending, and has held this position for several years. However, this work has largely focused on applied research rather than basic research, and universities have not benefited much.
Investing in education has been central to Finland’s efforts to ensure competitiveness. The society holds high standards for education, and the principle of lifelong learning is important.