At the beginning of 2017, Helsinki had 94,8888 residents with foreign background (i.e. persons whose both parents have been born abroad). This was equivalent to 14.9 per cent of the city population. 83 per cent of them were born abroad and 17 per cent in Finland. Little less than a half of the population with foreign background had a background in Europe, more than one in four in Asia and almost one in five in Africa. The number of foreign nationals residing in Helsinki was 59,770.
93,214 residents of Helsinki spoke a foreign language (other than Finnish, Swedish or Sami) as their mother tongue at the beginning of 2017. They made up 14.7 per cent of the city population. The most common foreign mother tongue was Russian, followed by Estonian, Somali and English.
In the 2000s, the number of residents with a foreign mother tongue in Helsinki has tripled. In 2016, it increased by 5,082. By 2030, the number of residents with a foreign mother tongue is expected to grow to 164,000-170,000 people, making up about 23 per cent of Helsinki’s population.
There are more women than men living in Helsinki, but in the population with foreign background men were in the majority with a share of 52 per cent at the beginning of 2017. The population with foreign background has a younger age structure than the total population of Helsinki. The proportion of children and young people of working age is high, and the proportion of pensioners very low. A majority of the population with foreign background born in Finland are less than 15 years old. However, sex and age structure varies with mother tongue and background country.
In Helsinki in 2016, the net migration gain of population with a foreign mother tongue was 3,830 people. The migration of foreign-language speakers is characterized by strong migration from abroad and relatively lively migration within Finland. The increase in the population with a foreign mother tongue is predominantly due to immigration but the domestic net migration is positive as well. Within the Helsinki Region, however, more foreign-language speakers move away from Helsinki than to Helsinki.
Birth rate is higher among residents with a foreign mother tongue than among the population as a whole, and mothers with a foreign mother tongue are younger than mothers at large. However, there is a strong variation in fertility between language groups. At the beginning of 2017, there were 17,531 families with children in Helsinki where at least one parent had a foreign mother tongue. They made up 23 per cent of all families with children.
Households with a foreign mother tongue are, on average, larger than households with a national mother tongue, and they live in more crowded conditions than the latter. Three in four households with a foreign mother tongue live in rented homes, most commonly in state-subsidised housing. Households with a foreign mother tongue concentrate in certain neighbourhoods regardless of tenure status. 28 per cent of residents with a foreign mother tongue in Helsinki lived in the Eastern Major District at the beginning of 2017.
Household dwelling-units by mother tongue and number of members in Helsinki on 31 Dec. 2014
Source: Statistics Finland
At the end of 2014, 46 per cent of 25–64 year-old residents with a foreign mother tongue in Helsinki had a registered post-compulsory education degree. 21 per cent had completed an upper secondary education and 25 per cent a tertiary education. Of upper secondary general education students in Helsinki in 2015, 13 per cent had a foreign mother tongue, and of upper secondary vocational students 16 per cent. Of polytechnic students 12 per cent and of university students 10 per cent had a foreign mother tongue.
In December 2016 the unemployment rate of residents with a foreign mother tongue in Helsinki was 24.4 per cent. The 10,776 unemployed residents with a foreign mother tongue made up one fourth of all unemployed in Helsinki. At the end of 2015, the unemployment rate of residents with foreign background was 25.3 per cent, and their employment rate 49.8 per cent. Employment varies greatly with background country. Half of employed population with foreign background in Helsinki were employed in either administration and support services, health or social care services, accommodation and food services or wholesale and retail trade at the end of 2014.
In Helsinki almost two in three (64%) income earners with foreign background and born abroad had earnings below the Finnish median income in 2014. In 2015, every fourth household (11,625) receiving social assistance in Helsinki had a primary recipient with a foreign mother tongue.