Research from Multiple Perspectives Important in Tackling Poverty

Photo of a child holding an adult's hand

Associate Professor, Mia Tammelin, leads a research project in PERLA examining poverty and welfare in families with children.

The recent economic downturn with rising inflation and the ongoing pandemic has forced many families with children to tighten their belts. As prices for basic necessities, such as food and energy, continue to rise, more and more families that were previously on the brink of poverty have now fallen over, says Associate Professor Mia Tammelin, Research Director of PERLA.

Assoc. Prof. Tammelin is leading a research project studying poverty and welfare in families with children. Launched at PERLA in April 2022, the project aims to understand families’ everyday experience of poverty, the impacts of poverty, as well as look for solutions to poverty at a societal level with a focus on social policy.

The project collaborates with Itla Children’s Foundation’s larger research and development programme, Samalta viivalta, which seeks to tackle poverty in families with children. Itla has also donated a professorship to Tampere University for the study of the subject.

The project emphasises the importance of analysing poverty with multiple data sources and methods. While quantitative data, such as surveys and registers, provide valuable information, a qualitative approach is equally important, for example, when looking at poverty as a relational issue. Assoc. Prof. Tammelin also stresses the need to look for solutions in various sectors of society: decisions about labour market policy and social security, for instance, have direct effects on the lives of families with children.

Studies have shown that poverty experienced in early childhood is particularly harmful and can have long-term effects lasting into adulthood. It can prevent children from participating in activities with their peers, which can lead to feelings of social exclusion. In Finland, families most at risk of poverty are single-parent families, families with multiple children and migrant families. And while financial hardship is often related to unemployment, even families with one working parent might struggle to make ends meet. The problem has not eased in recent times as inequality in Finland has kept on increasing.

“Nevertheless, we should not see inequality as something that is inevitable. Rather, we should work on changing the course.” Assoc. Prof. Tammelin states.

Assoc. Prof. Tammelin has studied questions relating to families, working life, and the reconciliation of work and family extensively. Her other current research topics include money as a generational issue, the inclusion of young adults in social work services, and the ways sports clubs support low-income families. She considers social sustainability and welfare to be the central themes in her research.


Writers: Riikka Salmela is a Gender Studies Master’s Student at Tampere University and an Intern at PERLA. Mia Tammelin is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Research Director or PERLA.

Mia Tammelin

Mia Tammelin

  • Associate Professor (tenure track)
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Tampere University
  • +358504793680
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