Homicide rate in Finnish Lapland higher than in Central Africa
Overall homicide rate high by EU standards
Finland has four regions where per capita homicide rates are higher than in other parts of the country. They are Finnish Lapland, North Karelia and Kainuu in the east, and Päijät-Häme in the south.
On Monday Helsingin Sanomat reported on which cities have the highest per capita rates of homicide. Topping the list were Lahti, Kerava, Joensuu, and Pori.
A different picture emerges from a comparison of regional data.
According to figures compiled by the National Research Institute of Legal Policy, the per capita homicide rate in 2000-2005 was many times higher than in West Uusimaa in the south of Finland.
The latter had the lowest rate of homicide in the whole country. Other areas of low rates of homicide include the rest of Uusimaa, coastal regions, and the Åland Islands.
Differences between regions can be visualised by comparing the rates of killing with the situation in foreign countries. Comparing the figures compiled by Statistics Finland and the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is apparent that on a per capita basis, more people are killed by other people in Finnish Lapland than in Western and Central Africa.
In Finnish Lapland, an average of more than five people per 100,000 inhabitants fall victim to homicide each year, whereas the rate in West and Central Africa is slightly above five, and in West Uusimaa it is less than two.
The homicide rate in West Uusimaa is similar to that in Central Europe.
Researcher Matti Lehti of the National Research Institute of Legal Policy notes that the regional differences in Finland are considerable, and that they have grown for the past two decades.
"The basic hypothesis is that the differences among the regions can be explained by differences in standards of living. In the north and east of Finland, things have been going poorly for a long time", he says.
Päijät-Häme, in the south of Finland, has also suffered from high unemployment.
Lehti points out that during the big migration of the 1960s and 1970s there was a high rate of homicide in the new suburban areas that were built up in urban communities which received the bulk of the internal migration from the countryside.
Now the situation is reversed: the rate of homicides is highest in areas from where people move away.
The nationwide situation is no cause for celebration.
According to the WHO, Finland has the seventh-highest per capita rate of homicides in the whole EU.
The Finnish homicide rate is exceeded only by Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Homicide rate higher in provincial towns than in Helsinki (21.1.2008)