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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

How does participation in the survey benefit me?

By participating in the survey on income and living conditions you can have an effect on the view decision-makers in both Finland and in the rest of Europe get of the livelihood and living conditions of Finnish households.

By participating in the survey you can ensure that you and other people in a similar life situation are taken into consideration in decision-making as you represent about 300 other Finnish households. The data of the survey on income and living conditions are used as bases for varying decision-making, for example, when deciding to raise or lower taxes and payments, when examining the effects of changes in various benefits, such as child allowances or financial aid for students on households' living conditions, or when wanting to know how much pensioners, families with children, unemployed persons and other population groups are burdened by living costs.

It is very important that many kinds of people participate in the survey: young and old, students, pensioners and employed persons, singles, couples, lone parents and families with many children, persons with low, average and high incomes, persons living in cities and in rural areas from across the country. It is your civil right to participate in the survey and by exercising this right you can have an effect on decision-making being based on reliable information.

Why do you want to interview me? Could you not interview someone else?

The respondents have been selected randomly and no respondent can be replaced with another.

The survey on income and living conditions is based on so-called random sampling where the respondents are drawn randomly from Statistics Finland's database on the population of Finland. The respondents are sampled in order to obtain as comprehensive group of respondents as possible. Therefore, it is not possible to swap the respondent and those who refuse to respond are simply excluded from the data. This can make the results less precise and reliable especially in population groups that are similar to those that refused to answer. Therefore, each interview is important and cannot be replaced by someone else.

In what languages can I participate in the survey?

At the moment, the interview languages of the survey on income and living conditions are Finnish, Swedish and English.

If you wish there would be other language alternatives, you can tell us about your wishes by sending an email to income@stat.fi.

Do I know how to answer your questions?

In the survey on income and living conditions, the questions asked concern everyday household matters and it is easy to respond to them.

The interviews do not test the knowledge of the respondent, but gather information about households' everyday life, such as the activity of persons living in the household during the year (e.g. being at work, a pensioner or a student), permanent residence and housing costs, health and child care from families with children. The interview is easy and you do not need to be afraid of giving wrong answers: the questions concern things that we can only collect data on by asking you and where you are the best expert.

What use is there for the answers I gave in the interview?

The data collected in the interview for the survey on income and living conditions and the register data combined with them are used for making the income distribution statistics and the European Statistics on Income and Living Conditions. This survey is one of the few statistical sources with fairly comparable information on social and economic circumstances at the European level.

The results of the income distribution statistics are published several times a year on the web page of the income distribution statistics, and they are also very often discussed extensively in the media. The results of the European survey on income and living conditions are also published on the pages of the income distribution statistics. Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities also publishes on its web pages and publications international comparisons that provide information about Finns' livelihood and living conditions compared to other European countries, not to mention the OECD and other international organisations that collect and publish international comparisons on social and economic developments around the world.

In addition, a service set intended for research use is made based on the survey on income and living conditions. Research themes vary widely – mostly, however, these data are used to assess changes and structures in households’ income situation in Finland. For example, what effects benefits or taxes have on the income of various population groups, such as the living conditions of families with children and pensioners. The research data are used widely as a basis for assessing the effects of decision-making and monitoring at different levels of society and government, for example, in ministries and organisations. The survey is very versatile and the information obtained by means of it has a significant role when examining the economic and other conditions of Finnish households.

Where do I find the data you publish?

Links to published data are found on the Results page.

The data of the survey on income and living conditions are used for producing the national income distribution statistics and the EU statistics on income and living conditions.  The data are also used in research, and reports and articles are written based on the data.

Who can view my data?

Only persons that participate in compiling Statistics Finland's survey on income and living conditions process the data provided by an individual respondent.

All data intended for research use that enable the identification of a person (e.g. personal data) are removed from the service set intended for research use produced on the basis of the survey on income and living conditions or the accuracy of the data is reduced, for example, by making them less detailed (e.g. instead of municipality of residence only the region or other regional information is given).

Do I have to participate in the survey?

Participation in the survey on income and living conditions is voluntary.

The national Statistics Act and Regulation (EC) concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) (No 117/2003) oblige Finland to produce data for statistics compilation, but the legislation does not oblige the respondents drawn to the sample to participate in the survey. However, responding is highly recommended in order for the data collected on the living conditions and livelihood of Finns to be as accurate as possible and for all types of population groups and life situations to be represented as well as possible in the statistics.

I was asked to participate in the survey but I am moving abroad. Can I still participate?

If your household lived in Finland at the end of the year before the interview, you can take part in the survey.

Although the person or household selected for the survey was moving away from Finland, they can take part in the survey if the majority of the household has lived in Finland at the end of the previous year. The households belonging to the survey are interviewed in four successive years, but a future move abroad is not an obstacle to participation. The respondents' possibilities to take part in the survey are examined separately for each year. If it is also known that the stay abroad will last at most one year, the interview can be made in the next year as well.

I do not want to participate because I am afraid that you will release my data to the Tax Authority or other authorities.

Statistics Finland never releases individual respondents' data to the Tax Authority or other authorities.

Participation in the survey is voluntary and the data collected during the interview are treated as strictly confidential. Only information that is absolutely necessary for the survey is asked, i.e. unnecessary details are avoided. Material collected in this way is not as such useful for any other purpose than for compiling statistics and research.

The person that has been selected for the survey is very old/sick/handicapped/hearing impaired/visually impaired/mentally disabled. Should he or she participate in the survey?

The respondent's age, health, disability or activity limitation is not, as such, an obstacle to participating in the survey.

The survey also aims to examine matters related to living conditions and health, so inclusion of various types of respondents is important. The survey has no upper age limit, and all persons selected for the survey belonging to the Finnish household population have the right to take part in the survey.

If it is difficult to answer by telephone, the survey can also be made by face-to-face interviewing, the corona situation permitting. If necessary, other persons can be present to help with the interview or the information can be provided by another person in place of the selected one. If the person selected for the survey suffers, for example, from serious handicap or disease, but is still living at home cared for by a close relative, another household member can answer the questions. Only persons living in institutions and persons who do not decide on their own economy (e.g. persons in intensive care or in trusteeship) are not included in the survey. The contacting interviewer always establishes the situation of the respondent and whether his or her household is included in the survey and whether that person can be interviewed.

I have a ban on direct marketing. Why did you still send me the letter?

Statistics Finland is a central government authority to whom the same direct marketing bans do not apply as to commercial research institutions, for example.

The data produced by Statistics Finland depict conditions in society and their development in general, and they are intended to serve different information needs within the society. Statistics Finland does not carry out market research and public opinion polling referred to in the Personal Data Act and can thus send interview requests to persons that have a marketing ban.

Sometimes Statistics Finland is confused with commercial research institutions with a similar name. However, Statistics Finland's interviewers always send a letter before calling, and the letter always clearly contains Statistics Finland's logo, the signature of the director responsible for the survey, and the contact information of the interviewer and the researchers. They can provide additional information concerning the survey. 

The interviewer came to call at my home without prior warning.

Statistics Finland's interviewers always approach the households selected for the survey on income and living conditions with a letter informing about the survey and future contacting.

As it is a question of a telephone interview survey, the interviewers contact respondents by telephone. If a telephone number is not available, the interviewer may visit the respondent and propose an exact date. If the date does not suit the respondent, it is hoped that he/she will contact the interviewer to suggest another date. Interviewers try to contact respondents by visiting if they cannot otherwise get in touch with the person selected for the survey or if the interview is agreed to be made face-to-face on account of the respondent's health, for example.

If a person identifying him/herself as Statistics Finland's interviewer comes to visit or calls before the cover letter has reached the respondent, the respondent should find out which survey and which research institution it concerns. Interviewers from other research institutions may at times be confused with Statistics Finland's interviewers. A visiting interviewer from Statistics Finland can always be identified by Statistics Finland's employee card. Statistics Finland's all data collections and surveys are presented on the Data collections page where you can check if the survey in question really is Statistics Finland's survey. Statistics Finland also conducts commissioned research ordered by other research institutions but also in these cases the cover letters contain the contact information of both Statistics Finland and the organisation that has commissioned the research.