New figures have shown that native Finnish people are leaving Helsinki’s suburban areas whilst the number of immigrants increases.
Researchers have even referred to the phenomenon as “white flight,” in which the native population heads elsewhere whilst the population of a community continues to grow via migration.
Expert Katja Vilkama said she found whilst researching for her doctoral thesis that the trend has resulted in a large portion of residents speaking primarily non-Finnish and Swedish languages. Data shows that 20.7 percent of residents in Espoo’s Suvela area were speaking primarily foreign languages in 2009, up from just 7 percent two years earlier.
Vilkama has reported that several urban areas in Finland are experiencing this change, including Vantaa’s Lansimaki and Helsinki’s Kallahti. However she notes that the phenomenon is still in the earlier stages, whereas in neighbouring Sweden, there are already several areas where Swedes constitute only a small percentage of a given community.
Meanwhile, urban geographer Venla Bernelius of the University of Helsinki said that it is clear that the trend shows no sign of slowing and that Finland is simply seeing the same process that occurred years ago in many other parts of Europe.
Bernelius said that differentiation is happening now simply because there was a low occurrence of income disparities for immigrants in Finland before, but increasing numbers has created such a situation in recent years.