The Care, Health and Ageing of Russian-speaking Minority in Finland (CHARM) study focuses on Russianspeaking people who are 50 years of age or older and permanently reside in Finland. The study examines issues related to health and well-being, public service experiences, digital inclusion, and access to different types of care. The data were collected during the spring 2019. A random sample of 3000 people was drawn from the Population Register. The sample was stratified by gender. Of the invited people, 36% responded to the survey. In the report, the survey answers are weighted to adjust the non-response bias. The Finnish Tax Administration register data from 2017 were used to model the non-response rate and to compute the weights; these data included information on earnings and capital income, unemployment benefits, earningsrelated and national pensions, and student benefits.
The average age of the survey respondents was 62 years. The average age at the time of moving to Finland was 44 years and the average length of stay in Finland was 18 years. Of the target group, 38% lived in Uusimaa and 40% elsewhere in Southern Finland. Most of them had moved to Finland as returning migrants of Finnish descent (e.g. Ingrian Finns) or through marriage. Over half had a Finnish citizenship, and two thirds of these were dual citizens. Especially working-age women (aged 50–64) rated their proficiency of Finnish or Swedish as good. Men and older people rated their local language skills as poorer. The average number of working years before moving to Finland was more than 20 years, and about ten years in Finland, for both men and women. Of the working-age population, 22% were unemployed. 64% of women and 84% of men were married. About 45% of women and about 4% of men were married to a Finnish partner. More than half of women over 64 years old lived alone compared to about 20% of men.
Nearly half of the working-age and just under one-third of over 64-year-old Russian-speakers rated their health as good. However, about 13% of the working age population and nearly 20% of the over 64-year-olds had some form of long-term illness limiting their daily activities. Women, in particular, reported symptoms of depression: a quarter of working-age women and 30% of women over the age of 64 scored above the clinical depression threshold (nine points) on the CES-D depression scale. The corresponding figures for men were 13% and 19%. According to the AUDIT survey, less than 20% of men and about 30% of women did not drink alcohol at all. 12% of working-age men and 11% of men over 64 drank at least six doses of alcohol at least once a month. In women, the corresponding percentage was less than 2%. A quarter of working-age men and 13% of women smoked regularly. 15% of men and 6% of women over the age of 64 smoked regularly. Men exercised less and ate fewer vegetables, fruits and berries than women did.
Women used health services more than men did. They also reported more unmet needs in regards to health services. Over the past year, 28% of Russian-speakers over the age of 50 had had a medical appointment abroad. Women used services abroad more often than men did. The main reasons for going to see a physician abroad were cheaper prices, shorter waiting times, language problems (in Finland) and familiarity with the system.
Over 65% of respondents reported that they struggled to make their ends meet. Difficulties of making the ends meet were higher among those over 64 years of age. More than half of them had received social assistance (income support) and about 70% had received housing assistance. As many as 43% of men over 64 years had relied on food aid in the past year.
The over 50 year old Russian-speakers were generally satisfied with their personal relationships. However, about 30% were socially isolated, meaning that they had fewer than two people who they considered close. More than 70% had no close friends of Finnish origin. Almost half of the women had experienced loneliness at least occasionally during the past week, and about 10% most of the time or almost all the time. During the past week, about one-third of men had experienced loneliness, and about four percent most of the time or all the time. About half of all respondents answered that they missed their country of origin, but very few (less than 2%) had plans to move or would like to move back to their country of origin. Less than 5% of the target group had experienced situations that they considered as discriminatory often or quite often. Almost half reported to have sometimes experienced such situations. The most common reason was seen to be their weaker Finnish language, their accent, or their status as a migrant.
In the survey, the feelings of belonging towards different groups were asked. Feeling of togetherness was felt strongest with Russians: more than half said they had a strong sense of belonging to this group. Approximately 88% felt at least some degree of belonging to the “Finns” group. A lesser sense of belonging was felt towards other migrants: about half of the Russian-speakers over the age of 50 felt togetherness with other than Russian origin migrants in Finland. More than 80% of Russian-speakers felt that the Finnish culture and traditions were close to them, women more often than men did. About 90% felt close with the culture and traditions of their country of origin. The older age groups felt so more often than the younger age groups. About 80% of Russian-speakers over the age of 50 had visited their country of origin at least once during the past year. People of working-age had travelled to their country of origin more often than the older ones.
Over 90% of the working age population and about 70% of the over 64-year-olds had a smartphone. Only four percent did not own a computer, smartphone or tablet. The vast majority of those who did not own any digital device were over 64-years-old. About 86% of people of working-age and 65% of those over 64 had electronic banking identification or mobile identification, which can be used to identify oneself in various online services, including Finnish public services. Over 90% of the working age population used the Internet daily. 16% of people over 64 did not use the Internet at all. Older participants also reported more issues hindering their Internet use, such as safety concerns or problems with their functional ability.