Wednesday, March 27, 2013

East Helsinki For Beginners

Nordic Welfare regime in Finland based on progressive taxation, universal social benefits, high quality public services and a drastic redistribution of income has been accompanied by social mixing as an urban policy. Social mixing aims to develop heterogeneous and socially balanced neighborhoods. Whereas, East Helsinki reveals as an exceptional case in the Helsinki cityscape.


Helsinki Districts and East Helsinki

Vaattovaara and Kortteinen (2003) claimed that ICTs based development in Finland has challenged the egalitarian basis of the Nordic welfare regime in Finland. They emphasized on a slow educational divide taking place for at least 30 years in Helsinki; the divide follows an east-west axis, the further west, the higher the share of inhabitants with a university degree (Vaattovaara and Kortteinen, 2003, p. 2132)


Educational gap in the long run resulted in socio-spatial differentiation. Today, East Helsinki has the highest unemployment rate (about 12%) in the Helsinki metropolitan area. Urban poverty is much more visible than any district, and income levels are lower.

The Roihuvuori Tower

It is significant that the rise in unemployment and poverty has been fastest in East Helsinki which was socioeconomically the weakest. Urban development of the eastern parts is rather slow or even continuously worsening compared with the city average Vaattovaara and Kortteinen, 2003, p. 2133).

Meri-Rastila Square

This picture is complete when immigrants are considered. Since the 1990s, East Helsinki has the highest percentage of immigrants (over 10%) in the Helsinki metropolitan area.

Rastila, an East Helsinki neighborhood, has the highest
percentage of immigrants in Helsinki (approximately 20%)

According to Galanakis (2008, pp. 185-187) two things attracted the immigrants to the area. First, East Helsinki is more desirable to poorer households due to relatively cheaper living.


Second, in East Helsinki there have been quite number of social houses which are most suitable for ethnic minorities (i.e. the Somalis) as the houses are relatively larger in size. In this context, East Helsinki is an area where socio-spatial segregation is observed in Helsinki.

(quoted from Uysal, Ulke (2010) : Helsinki: Representations of A Multicultural Metropolis, The Journal of International Social Research, Forthcoming)

References

GALANAKIS, Michail (2008). Space Unjust: Socio-spatial Discrimination in Urban Public Space Cases from Helsinki and Athens, Helsinki: University of Art and Design.

VAATTOVAARA, Mari & KORTTEINEN, Matti (2003). “Beyond Polarisation versus Professionalisation? A Case Study of the Development of the Helsinki Region, Finland”, Urban Studies 40(1), pp. 2127-2154.



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