Finland's demographic time bomb

Country facing a rapidly ageing population a warning to Europe as its difficulty in passing reforms highlights the hurdles ahead

A man looking at campaign posters in Helsinki, with the parliamentary elections scheduled to be held in Finland on April 14. The country and its rapidly ageing population is a vivid demonstration that demographic change forces hard choices between po
A man looking at campaign posters in Helsinki, with the parliamentary elections scheduled to be held in Finland on April 14. The country and its rapidly ageing population is a vivid demonstration that demographic change forces hard choices between politically unpalatable reforms and potentially deep belt-tightening.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

In a new building wedged between the sea and a power station in north-west Helsinki, a closely watched experiment in elderly care is taking place. A group of about 30 people aged over 60 are eating dinner at a housing development called Kotisatama, whose facilities include two saunas, a roof terrace and an exercise room for circuit training and pilates.

But there are no staff. Kotisatama is a community house in which both single elderly people and couples live together and share the chores. "The main purpose of this house is to keep us active," says 72-year-old resident Leena Vahtera, chair of the project. "This is not a nursing home."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 07, 2019, with the headline 'Finland's demographic time bomb'. Subscribe