WELCOME TO THE HOMEPAGE OF YKSINASUVAT RY
Yksinasuvat ry, Ensamboende i Finland rf, in English Association for People Who Live Alone in Finland, is a non-governmental, non-profit interest organization for single people in Finland. The association was founded and registered 2009. Yksinasuvat ry is a nationwide association; its members are from all over Finland. Anyone can be a member, but the members consist mostly of adult men and women who live alone.
The purpose of Yksinasuvat ry is
1. Advocating equality and justice for people who live alone in relation to people who live as couples or as families.
2. Increasing knowledge and awareness of single people and their situation and standing in Society and conveying this knowledge to decision makers, public authorities, researchers, and media and to singles themselves.
Definition of singles
There is no generally accepted definition of singles in Demography or in the societal discussion. The most common definition is the one used by Statistics Finland, that is, one-person-households. Generally speaking, singles are persons who are divorced or widowed, who have always been single or who have been cohabiting. Single parents are considered families statiscically, but many single parents experience themselves as singles, too, because they do not live with a partner and are sole providers of the household.
The number of people living alone
1. At the end of 2016 there were 2 618 000 households in Finland, of which over one million or 1 134 424 were one-person households. The number of one-person-households is continually growing. The number of people living alone grew by 58 000 households during 2011-2014.
2. 42 percent of the households were one-person-households in 2014. 33 percent were two-person-households and 25 percent consisted of three or more people.
3. Of the adult population 26 percent were living alone in 2014.
(Statistics Finland 2015)
The age structure of people living alone
1. 41 percent of all single people (that is, one-person households) were between the ages of 35 and 65 in 2012. The growth of people living alone has happened mainly in this age group.
2. 38 percent of the singles were 65 years and over.
3. 21 percent of the singles were younger than 35. That percentage has decreased.
(Statistics Finland 2014)
Living alone is expensive
The proportion of low income households is larger among singles than among other population groups. 32.2 percent of the singles lived in low income households in 2013. Singles constituted the largest group of poor people. Among couples without children 6.3 percent were low income households.
(Statistics Finland 2015)
In 2012, 41 percent of people living alone were in the two lowest income deciles and 63 percent in the four lowest income deciles.
(Statistics Finland 2014)
In 2012, 72 percent of the households receiving social assistance, which is a last-resort form of income security, were one-person households.
(Statistics Finland 2014, National Institute for Health and Welfare 2014)
The French Observatoire des inégalités compared the amount of poverty in different types of households in 18 European countries in 2012. The poverty rate of one person households was the second highest in Finland,next to Bulgaria. As a comparison, families with three or more children had the second lowest poverty rate in Finland, next to Denmark. Also, the poverty rate of single-parent families was the second lowest in Finland, next to Denmark. The comparison was based on Eurostat’s statistics from year 2010 and the poverty measured was relative poverty. Read more...
The newspaper Aamulehti asked Statistics Finland in 2012 to count how much money there was left to use for working single people on one hand and couples without children on the other hand, after subtracting the necessary cost of living and housing. By comparing average incomes it became clear that in the Helsinki region under 35 years old singles had 23 percent of what couples of the same age had left to use. Elsewhere in Finland under 35 year-olds living alone had 27 percent left. 35-65-year-olds singles had 34 percent of what couples had left.
In 2014 the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle wrote about thedifferences in housing costs. According to Statistics Finland the average price per square meter for a studio was 3 142 euros in 2013, while the square meter price for three room apartments or bigger was 2 350 euros, that is almost 800 euros lower. In the Capital region the difference was even greater; more than 1 300 euros per square meter. Also the rents are more expensive for smaller than for larger homes.
1. The Finnish society is based on two income households' capacity to pay.
2. People living alone carry the costs of housing and living expenses on their own, without the benefit of the additional income that a second person might bring.
PETITION TO THE POLITICAL PARTIES
On April 19th 2015 a parliamentary election was held. In connection to the election, the Association for People Who Live Alone in Finland submitted a petition to the leadership of all the parliamentary parties. The petition contained an appeal to the new government for single people’s right to equal and fair treatment before the law in comparison to the treatment of people living as couples.
In addition, the association demanded that the new Government should set up a broad-based parliamentary working group to examine the situation of people living alone.
The petition called on the new Non-Discrimination Act (1325/2014) that came into force on 01.01.2015. The Non-Discrimination Act says that no one shall be discriminated against on the age, origin, nationality, language, religion, belief, opinion, political activity, trade union activity, family relationships, health, disability, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics. This is the first time that “family relationships” is mentioned as a source for discrimination.
Singles in the new Government Programme
In the new Government Programme 29 May 2015 it says: “A study will be performed on the position of single households in society” (p. 21). This is the first time that singles are mentioned on this political level.
Some of the areas that the Association wants to draw the legislators’ attention to are the following:
The government should work on reducing the poverty of people living alone.
The Constitution says that the public authorities shall promote the right of everyone to housing and the opportunity to arrange their own accommodation. Single people, too, must be provided affordable housing. Single people, too, should have the possibility to live in situation-adequate housing and not just small, cramped studios.
3. Taxes and tax deductions
VAT: the standard VAT rate is 24% for most goods and services, 14% for food, 10% for books and personal transportation, for example, and 9% for newspaper and magazine subscriptions. VAT on petrol is about 19% of the retail price.
People who live as couples have the possibility to share the VAT, that is, pay half of the VAT rate or 12%, 7%, 5%, 4.5% and about 9.5% for all goods, supplies and services, which they are able to purchase and use together. Singles pay alone for everything, which also often means paying the double amount of VAT compared to people living as couples.
Deduction for temporary job related housing is not something a single person is allowed to receive. The motivation for this decision was that singles are not equally tied to their place of residence as families, where the other members work and go to school at their place of residence. Temporary relocating because of a job is considered easier for singles than for families. Singles can, for example, rent their apartment while accepting a temporary job somewhere else, according to the reasoning. This implies that singles do not have deep and serious connections to other people, to their hometown and to their own home. Note: a couple is entitled to the deduction for temporary job related housing even if the other spouse does not work and the couple has no children.
Deductions for household expenses, for example for redoing your kitchen or bathroom: couples have twice the access to this than single people to; that is, each of the persons living as a couple gets a deduction. In addition to that, they can split the costs in half and consequently split the VAT for the purchased material for the redo.
Housing-related taxes, for example electricity tax and property tax, often increase the costs of living for singles in comparison to couples, because they are collected mainly per household.
4. Fees: for example many municipalities collect waste charges and homecare customer fees either per household or in a way that the fee is higher for a person living alone than for a person living as a couple.
5. Subsidies: For example Labour market subsidies and Basic unemployment allowances are similar for people living alone as compared to people living as a couple, with two incomes or subsidies. It should be taken into account that the living and housing costs are considerably higher for single person households.
6. Pensions: The Guarantee pension that was introduced in Finland in 2011 is similar for both singles and people living as couples. The pension does not take into account the higher living and housing costs for singles. The older National pension did contain a small addition for those living alone. Both the National pension and Guarantee pensions are funded by the state.
7. Health inequalities: According to studies, singles have more health related problems compared to other groups of the population. However, the studies do not say that being single is the reason for having health problems. The reasons could be, for example, poverty, unemployment, bad housing or a lack of knowledge about or discrimination of singles in society. This is an area that need a lot more investigation and research.
8. Research is needed. Since people living alone have not been seen as a population group of its own kind, their living conditions, health and other conditions have not been the object of research and studies, the way that those of other population groups have been.
9. Social and healthcare education should include knowledge and teaching about singlehood, so that professionals would know how to interact effectively with people living alone. Because there is no such knowledge, singles are at risk of being misunderstood or receiving lower quality care and treatment than other population groups. Particularly for single people targeted social and healthcare services are also needed, in a similar way as there are social and healthcare services targeted particularly for families and couples.
10. Employment: There is more unemployment among singles than among people living as couples or families. Singles are the largest group of those receiving Labor market subsidies and Basic unemployment allowances. The reasons for this need to be investigated and rectified.
11. Higher inheritance taxes: This inequality concerns particularly childless single people whose property will be inherited by people such as close friends or the children of siblings.
The Association for People Who Live Alone in Finland is a young association but has already successfully influenced the change from a household based TV license fee to a personal TV tax in 2013 to be paid by all adult people, according to their level of income. The TV license fee was experienced as an especially unjust fee by many single people, who rose to fight for a more just fee. We are grateful to all the singles who wrote emails, contacted decision makers or advocated in other ways. Thanks to them we got our first significant win in our quest for justice for single people.
During the years of the existence of the Association many journalists and reporters, researchers and politicians have “discovered” single people and the need for more knowledge and for equality and justice. We are grateful to all the members of the media, researchers, and decision makers who have contacted us or otherwise have drawn attention to singles' issues in our society.
The Association organized a national (and partly international) one-dayseminar about singles in September 2013. The main speaker was Dr. Bella DePaulo from California. The two other speakers were Raija Eevaand Arja Mäkinen from Finland. Bella DePaulo spoke about “How living alone affects the individual and Society” and “Why are people living alone invisible to others as well as to themselves?” Arja Mäkinen spoke about “Finnish stereotypes of people living alone and the effect of family norms in Society” and Raija Eeva about “When you encounter a person living alone at work” (when working in social- or healthcare, for example).
Singles were written into the Government Programme in May 2015, for the first time ever. We thank all those politicians who have taken our yearly sent thesis into account in this process.
From year 2016 forward the Association has been led by Jutta Järvinen (M.A in Political Science). In this context the Association's name was changed to Yksinasuvat ry (former Suomen Yksinelävät ry). This site and other digital social media environment were created or developed. New platforms made it possible to make the association's influencing work more visible and transparent. New digital survey methods were also put to use. This enabled both ad hoc surveys among members and more effective researh despite of scarce funding. During the last two years Yksinasuvat ry has received small research grants applied by and granted for our chairwoman's solo living research projects. Thanks to diligent networking and good partners Yksinasuvat ry received this year (2017) a bigger subsidy from Stea for the co-operative project "Naapurilähiö-hanke" in Tampere. Its' main target group is households' solo providers (single people and single parents) . The aim of the project is to produce a workable model for mutual assistance in the neighborhood.
Despite of all these successes single people's issues are poorly knownamong the general public, not only among couples and families but also among singles themselves. We have still a long way to go.
Another challenge is the difficulty getting funding for any kind of singles work. This means that the work has to be done on a voluntary, unpaid basis only.
INTERNATIONAL SINGLES ADVOCACY
We are grateful to and inspired by all the people in many countries who work to increase knowledge about singles and equality for singles. Below are some examples.
European singles advocacy associations and groups:
Ensliges Landsforbund in Norway. Read more...
UNAGRAPS in France. Read more...
CISA in Holland. Read more...
Pro Single Schweiz in Switzerland. Read more...
all1 in Belgium. Read more...
See also Organising Intimacy - Exploring Heterosexual Singledoms at Swedish Singles Activities, a dissertation by Andreas Henriksson (2014).Read the dissertation here...
American singles advocacy:
Unmarried Equality. Read more...
Asian singles research:
Living Alone: One-person households in Asia (Special collection 15) inDemographic Research. Read more...