HELSINKI: Finland a land of lakes and forests, used to be known for tangible things: sawn pine timber for furniture, then Nokia mobile phones.
Now its claims to fame are intangible. Its schools were the world’s best before being eclipsed by those in Shanghai and Singapore. It is still the world’s happiest country but this, too, is in the balance as Finns grapple with twin challenges that are putting strain on its tax-funded welfare system.
A falling birth rate means that Finland is ageing faster than any country except Japan. The proportion of over-65s is projected to rise from 20 per cent to 29 per cent in 30 years. Many young men, especially in the remote north and east.