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Number 7 (1/2002)

Finnish Local Government Barometers archived at FSD

Helena Laaksonen

Researchers will shortly be able to order Finnish Local Government Barometers from FSD. At this point, Archive's collections will include altogether 18 Barometers from the years 1992 - 2000, i.e. from the midst of depression till the end of the millennium.

Primary and comparative data

There are eight barometers monitoring public opinion that have been collected by interviewing inhabitants of municipalities. As reference materials, there are datasets gathered via postal surveys. The population of the latter consists mainly of municipal managers and chairpersons of local governments, in a couple of cases of local council members or municipal officials. Each primary dataset contains more than 900 units of analysis, and the comparative datasets usually more than 600 units.

Cut downs and consolidations

The financial difficulties with which Finnish municipalities have been struggling come up frequently in the Local Government Barometers. All through the 1990s, attitudes towards the consolidation of municipalities, and the expansion or cut down of services form a recurrent theme.

Even though the contents and number of questions varies, some themes are repeated annually. These include, for example, questions dealing with the too large a number of municipalities, and attitudes towards enforced consolidation.

Laymen vs. management

The equation of primary datasets with their reference material reveals how much the opinions of the "laymen" differ from those of the managers. Furthermore, the occasional variation in the population of the comparative datasets shows divergence between the various decision-making bodies. On the other hand, the background variables enable the monitoring of how sex, age, family ties, political views, and the level of educational influence the opinions about the municipal management. It is also possible to map, for example, how people living in different regional areas picture municipality as a producer of welfare services, or how eager they are to either increase or decrease public services.

The Finnish Local Government Barometers are of use to teachers and researchers especially in the fields of local government studies and political studies.

The Barometers, commissioned by the Foundation for Municipal Development, have been realised by Gallup Finland. They are produced only in Finnish, but English translations are available on request.

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