Wealth, money, debt

This research area examines the economic activities of households and the effects of related phenomena. The research results impact policy making as well as Finnish and international research through the methods developed in the research area. Key research themes include the definition of a decent level of consumption (reference budgets), household debt, changes to consumption structures and the valuing of household production to supplement national accounts. Research in this area uses qualitative and quantitative methods, interviews and statistical data. New methodologies have been developed for household satellite accounts and the development of reference budgets.

In Finland, reference budgets have been used to evaluate the sufficiency of basic security, develop an alternative poverty measure and assess the level of decent consumption in various contexts (research, authorities). Satellite accounts have been used to track the transfer of activities from consumers to other sectors and vice versa. The OECD’s UNECE Task Force on Valuing Unpaid Household Service Work uses a calculation method developed in Finland to prepare international guidelines for calculating household production. Research on debt has explored how young people manage their finances and debts, and has sought to develop financial and debt advice in Finland.

The environment consumers live in, particularly in terms of digitisation and new technologies, will change daily lives in a way that ensures that the consumer economy will remain an important area of research. In 2017–2018, research in this area will focus on changes to consumption structures as well as the causes and effects of excessive debt. Reference budgets and satellite accounts will also be updated. Changes to consumption structures will be explored as part of the project on changing structures and viable competition in the food market, funded by the Agricultural Development Fund (MAKERA). The updating of reference budgets will be part of the project Tackling Inequalities in a Time of Austerity (TITA consortium), funded by the Academy of Finland’s Strategic Research Council (Decision No 293103).


Frank Trentmann, Riitta Matilainen, Ella Lillqvist, Päivi Timonen, Ilja Kavonius, Kristiina Aalto, Anna-Riitta Lehtinen


  • Aalto, K (2015) The Finnish tax reduction for domestic costs: consumption patterns. In: The political economy of household services in Europe. Eds. N. Morel & C. Carbonnier. pp. 242–261. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Aalto, K. & Varjonen, J. (2014). Differences in the rhythms of daily life between young childless couples and new parents. Family Science, 5:1, 11-19.
  • Lehtinen, Anna-Riitta osana raportin tehnyttä työryhmää:
  • Peura-Kapanen, L., Aalto, K., Lehtinen, A-R. & Järvinen, R. Ylivelkaantumisen ehkäisyn ja hoidon tehostaminen. Valtioneuvoston selvitys- ja tutkimustoiminnan julkaisusarja 26/2016.
  • Varjonen J, Aalto K (2013) Kotitalouksien palkaton tuotanto ja sen muutokset 2001–2009. Työselosteita ja esitelmiä 145. Kuluttajatutkimuskeskus. Helsinki.Linkki.