Finlandia

Finnish refugee children arriving in Copenhagen in March 1940. Credit Credit Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone, via Getty Images

During World War II, the Finnish government evacuated about 70,000 children to protect them from the danger, stress and uncertainty of war. Their parents agreed to send them to foster homes primarily in Sweden. It was one of the largest evacuations of children in the 20th century. And years later, some would consider the program a grave mistake.

After the fighting stopped in 1945, the children began to return home. Beginning in the mid-1990s, scientists at the University of Helsinki caught up with some of these “war children,” now elderly adults, to examine how, if at all, the childhood separation from their parents had affected their health and well-being.…  Seguir leyendo »

Universal Basic Income Didn’t Fail in Finland. Finland Failed It.

“Thank goodness that this experiment is coming to an end,” the Fox News commentator Stuart Varney said recently, after the Finnish government decided to stop its trial run with universal basic income (U.B.I.) at the end of the year. “You want money, get out there and work for it, please.”

Jussi Halla-aho, the leader of the far-right Finns Party, applauded the decision, arguing that “work is the best social security.” Some center-left politicians also have been skeptical. Antti Rinne, the leader of the Social Democratic Party, said last year, “I don’t need any basic income. I have a good salary, and if I happen to lose my job, I’d have unemployment benefits.”

But the demise of the U.B.I.…  Seguir leyendo »

Universal basic income is generating considerable interest these days, from Bernie Sanders, who says he is “absolutely sympathetic” to the idea, to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and other tech billionaires. The basic idea behind it is that handing out unconditional cash to all citizens, employed or not, would help reduce poverty and inequality, and increase individual liberty.

This discussion is still largely theoretical, though, because universal basic income hasn’t been rigorously tested. Most experiments — in the United States in the 1970s; in the Dutch city of Utrecht today — have been local and based on small sample sizes. A nonprofit organization has run a larger program in Kenya.…  Seguir leyendo »

Esa luz que viene del norte

Los políticos de profesión se han vuelto muy aburridos, lo que explica la aparición en todas las democracias occidentales de partidos rebeldes como Ciudadanos en España, el Frente Nacional en Francia, el Tea Party en EE.UU. o los independentistas catalanes o escoceses. Hay que entender a los votantes, que se aburren de escuchar la misma cantinela, en la derecha y en la izquierda. La política, desde el momento en que se ha convertido en un espectáculo, exige algo nuevo, pero no solo por razones superficiales. Los viejos programas reciclados sin cesar no aportan soluciones a situaciones difíciles, duraderas, y a veces hereditarias, como el desempleo de los jóvenes sin cualificación o la excesiva dependencia de las ayudas públicas por parte de algunos estratos de la población.…  Seguir leyendo »

Millions of American parents spend countless hours trying to figure out how to help their children get better grades, better teachers or better schools.

They may want to take a page from Finland, which is considered to have one of the leading education systems in the world. Finnish students consistently score near the top in the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, for reading, mathematics and science. The 2012 PISA results tell us that in these three subjects combined Finland ranks third after Korea and Japan. In comparison, American students’ combined performance in reading, mathematics and science places the United States at 21st among 34 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries.…  Seguir leyendo »

If you want to get a rise out of a Finn, start talking about “Finlandization” and small countries’ subservience to their larger neighbors. The former American national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has used the term to suggest that accepting Russian domination is the only course Ukraine can take. I disagree.

Finlandization — or the challenge of surviving as a small nation in the shadow of a larger one — can be an inspiration for Ukraine, but it doesn’t work the way Mr. Brzezinski thinks.

Russia has had problems over the past 20 years with all of its neighbors with one notable exception — Finland.…  Seguir leyendo »

Much too often, diplomacy is behind the curve in struggling with developments unfolding in ways not foreseen.

But when the Arctic Council meets in Kiruna in northern Sweden in the next few days, it is a rare example of a framework set up to deal with events well before they really start to happen, thus making it possible to shape events rather than reacting to things that have already gone wrong.

The Arctic Council was set up between the eight Arctic states, with representatives of the indigenous peoples as permanent participants, in Ottawa in 1996. But in its first years it hardly registered on the international scene.…  Seguir leyendo »

With global warming rapidly melting Arctic sea ice and glaciers making valuable stores of energy and minerals more accessible, voices of doom are warning of inevitable competition and potential conflict — a new “Great Game” among the five Arctic coastal nations.

In fact, the Arctic states of North America, Europe and Russia, working with indigenous peoples and a number of non-Arctic states, already have taken steps to ensure just the opposite: that the Arctic remains a zone of cooperation, peace and stable, sustainable development.

The Arctic Council — the intergovernmental organization for the eight Arctic states: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States — has created a forum for cooperation and momentum toward a responsible approach to the region’s issues.…  Seguir leyendo »

Today the leaders of the five Nordic states are meeting to discuss the possibility of creating a Nordic federal state. Ever since the Kalmar Union of the kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden – reaching to Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Shetland and Orkney – collapsed in 1523, the idea of reinstating some sort of a supra-national Nordic state regularly crops up. Now this old idea has resurfaced in a book the Swedish history professor Gunnar Wetterberg submitted to the Nordic Council in Reykjavik today.

Wetterberg argues that together the Nordics (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, with the three micro territories the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Aland), will be stronger and more stable and prosperous than they are on their own.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Madeleine Bunting (THE GUARDIAN, 15/08/08):

One of my best friends is a Finn. She came to England at 16, but when it came to giving birth to her first baby 13 years later, there was no hesitation: she went home. When she returned, along with her stories of state of the art healthcare, she brought tangible evidence of the largesse of the Nordic welfare state: each new mother was given a box of exquisite new baby clothes and equipment. Everything was a perfect mint green and lavender. In contrast, when it was my turn several years later to give birth in the UK in an overcrowded, dirty hospital, a harassed nurse handed me a plastic bag stuffed with leaflets advertising baby products and a couple of free samples.…  Seguir leyendo »

Por Isabel Celaá (EL CORREO DIGITAL, 04/11/07):

Durante la segunda semana de septiembre, parlamentarios y miembros del Gobierno, en una delegación conjunta, viajamos a Finlandia, para visitar un número importante de escuelas de aquel país. Queríamos conocer las razones del éxito del Sistema Educativo Finlandés, dados los excelentes resultados alcanzados en las pruebas PISA (Programa de Evaluación Internacional de Alumnos diseñado por la OCDE a finales de los años 90). Probablemente, este éxito ha sido el resultado de una serie de factores; al menos desde que, en 1968, el Sistema Educativo Finlandés se decantó 22 años antes que la LOGSE española, por un modelo comprensivo, general, igual para todos, desde los 7 hasta los 16 años, aunque diversificado y adaptado a las necesidades educativas especiales.…  Seguir leyendo »

Por Kirsty Hughes, ex analista del Centre for European Policy Studies y coordinadora del European Policy Institutes Network (REAL INSTITUTO ELCANO, 21/08/06):

Como saben todos los observadores de la UE, Finlandia va a tomar el timón de la gran nave comunitaria durante los próximos seis meses. ¿Qué cabe esperar del liderazgo de este país nórdico? Al menos en comparación con sus vecinas Suecia y Dinamarca –o Noruega, que ni siquiera afrontó la adhesión–, Finlandia ha mantenido una postura bastante europeísta. Pero ante una UE que sigue negando la agonía terminal de su tratado constitucional (es posible que el año que viene Alemania intente encontrar una solución, que negociarían los líderes europeos en 2008), ¿qué margen de maniobra les queda realmente a Finlandia o a la UE?…  Seguir leyendo »

Por Fred Halliday, profesor visitante del Cidob (Barcelona) y profesor de la London School of Economics. Traducción: José María Puig de la Bellacasa (LA VANGUARDIA, 19/06/06):

En una soleada mañana de lunes en Helsinki, una atmósfera de optimismo nacional impregna el ambiente primaveral: un grupo finlandés de rock ha ganado el Festival de Eurovisión, el equipo de hockey sobre hielo ganó una medalla de plata en los pasados juegos de Invierno 2006 en Turín y estamos a pocas semanas de las vacaciones nacionales veraniegas de finales de junio, cuando la luz apenas abandona el firmamento y los ciudadanos de la capital huyen en desbandada hacia sus segundas residencias esparcidas a la orilla de la miríada de lagos que motean este país de algo más de cinco millones de habitantes.…  Seguir leyendo »