Democracy, youth, development, values and attitudes: Five data sets from FSD

This is the second article in a series presenting five data sets from archives across the CESSDA collaboration. Our Finnish Service Provider, FSD, has chosen to present the following selection of data sets.

1. FNES

The Finnish National Election Studies (FNES) are nationally representative surveys conducted every four years, right after the parliamentary elections in Finland. The data is collected through face-to-face interviews and self-administered questionnaires, which means that changes in public opinion and democracy can be observed over time. Some modules are repeated but each study also contains questions on current issues. The studies chart the following main themes: political participation, political attitudes, party allegiance, candidate and party choice, the voting behaviour of Finns that are of voting age and election campaigns. Due to their popularity, the election study data are translated into English by FSD without prior request. A description of the most recent election study (2015) is available here.

Fun fact: Did you know that Finns have a very high trust in their President? According to 2015 data, 75% of all respondents said they trust the President a lot or completely. Only 27.2% trusted the Government to the same extent and the proportion of those who had a high trust in politicians was even lower, 10.5%.

2. EVA Surveys on Finnish Values and Attitudes

The EVA Surveys on Finnish Values and Attitudes, funded by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum (EVA) and conducted annually (previously every two years), have extensively studied Finnish public opinion, values, attitudes, and perceptions of the present and future since 1984. Topics covered include democracy, the market economy, welfare, the environment, society and politics, Finland's international position, and economic growth. Each data set contains both new themes and recurring ones, with questions repeated over the years. The majority of the data in the series have been translated into English by FSD. A description of the most recent survey (2017) is available here.

Fun facts:

  1. Did you know that Finns do not appear to favour complete privatisation as a means to improve the efficiency of service provision? Out of the respondents of the 2017 EVA Survey, 59.5% disagreed with the statement “Most of our country’s public services should be privatised in order to improve the efficiency of service provision”, while 18.2% agreed.
  2. Did you know Finns value the general knowledge acquired in basic education? 65% of respondents to the EVA Survey 2017 did not think that Finnish schools should focus on developing excellence at the cost of general knowledge. Similarly, over half of the respondents (51.2%) considered general knowledge to be the most important subject taught to children in basic education, above information retrieval, work-related skills, diligence, enthusiasm and flexibility.

3. Finnish Youth Surveys

The Finnish Youth Surveys chart attitudes and expectations of young Finnish people aged 15-29. The main topics covered are attitudes towards education, working life, social security, spending, drug use, and willingness and opportunities to participate in decision-making. Each survey contains both current questions and recurring questions which are repeated over time, enabling the study of long-term attitude changes. Many of the datasets are already available in English and those not yet available will be translated on request and free of charge for research, study and teaching purposes. A description of the most recent survey (2016) is available here.

Fun fact: Did you know that Finnish youth appreciate non-material things? Roughly 80% of respondents in the 2016 Finnish Youth Survey considered the opportunity to travel and see the world quite or very important. In a similar vein, respondents valued the possibility to use a considerable amount of their time on their hobbies (80.9%) as well as make environmentally friendly consumer choices (78.2%). Ending up in a managerial position was considered important by 33.2% of respondendents and having your own car by 56.7%.

4. Development Cooperation Surveys

The Development Cooperation Surveys, commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, study citizens' opinions, attitudes and information needs related to development cooperation. The surveys are collected annually since 1997. Some of the data is already available in English and further translations of data can be made on request and free of charge for research, study and teaching purposes. A description of the most recent survey (2016) is available here.

Fun fact: Only 11.4% of the respondents of the Development Cooperation Survey 2016 knew that the country with the most refugees per capita was Lebanon. Nearly 30% of the respondents thought that it was Turkey, approximately 22% assumed that it was Germany, and roughly 11% believed it to be Sweden. Respondents also estimated the amount reserved for Finland’s development cooperation appropriations to be lower than it actually was – about 16% selected the correct answer, which was 820 million euros in 2016. These funds are used, among other activities, for bilateral development cooperation between Finland and its partner countries, to support work done by UN agencies, development banks and as humanitarian aid[1].

5. Measures of Democracy 1810-2014

Measures of Democracy 1810-2014 is a dataset created by Tatu Vanhanen from the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Tampere. It was compiled based on his long-term research charting political competition, political participation and the index of democratisation in independent states of the world between the years 1810 and 2015. The data is openly available for download for all users without registration. A description of the data is available here.

Read the previous article in the series: "Discover five data sets from our German Service Provider GESIS".

[1] http://formin.finland.fi/public/default.aspx?contentid=328885&culture=en-US

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