Finland pricey but more affordable than pre-euro, Yle finds

Finland has become a relatively cheaper country to live in since joining the single currency nearly two decades ago, at the beginning of 2002.

Multinational companies have largely abandoned country-specific pricing in the EU. These days, an Ikea cupboard or Apple device cost the same in Spain, Italy or Finland. Clothing and shoe purchases will also dent consumers’ wallets more in the other non-Euro Nordics than in Finland, according to EU statistics office Eurostat.

While the common currency seems to have harmonised pricing within the eurozone, particularly as inflation has run up prices in southern and eastern European states, many consumer goods are still more expensive in Finland, as outlined in the graphic below:

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The European Central Bank has been applauding the two percent annual rise in eurozone wages, but Finnish workers have not joined the party, partially due to the centre-right government’s austerity programme which – in an aim to boost competitiveness – slashed wage costs by five percent across the public sector.

After several years of recession, the country’s economic outlook now appears brighter. And with growing exports and an expanding economy, the workforce is itching for a raise.

The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) told Yle there will be growing pressure to raise salaries after current collective agreements expire.

Overall, the eurozone has not smoothed salary discrepancies. German workers are still earning up to twice as much as Finnish employees. However just two years ago hourly wages in Finland were double of those in Portugal and Greece which were struggling to cope with their respective financial crises.

Yle found that the single currency hasn’t powered cross-border trade among eurozone member states to the degree envisioned by its original architects. Additionally, citizens’ movement within the bloc has mainly centred on flows from east to west, with less crisscrossing around the bloc than economists anticipated decades ago.