News 15 Feb 2023

Wealth of information is available on children but it is scattered – developing a knowledge base requires cooperation

Statistics Finland has investigated the state of knowledge on children as part of the National Child Strategy. The aim of this strategy measure was to combine indicators of child wellbeing into a single knowledge base and to identify information gaps. To support future development, a proposal was made for the implementation of a child data portal. 

The sheer volume of data surprised the experts involved: “Initially, we expected to find a few hundred indicators, but there were more than 2,400 indicators on child wellbeing,” says Johanna Lahtela, Senior Statistician.

The reason for the large number of indicators is the broad scope of child wellbeing: it is influenced by factors such as health, living conditions, the environment and social relationships. Children can also belong to several different communities at once, for example, in school, early childhood education and hobbies. 

Although there is a wealth of information available on children, there are also gaps. “More information is especially needed on the wellbeing of vulnerable children. For example, little is known about the everyday life of disabled or immigrant children," says Lahtela. 

The biggest problem in obtaining this information is that it is scattered in many different places. It can be difficult for users to find and make use of it.

Combining information on children in a single knowledge base would allow better use of data

As the work has progressed, it has been possible to draw clear conclusions about the state of knowledge on children, leading to proposals with a view to achieving a stronger knowledge base. 

In terms of development work, important measures would include identifying opportunities for using untapped data, coordinating the production of survey data and strengthening cooperation, and above all creating a common repository of child data. 

“Combining information on children in a single repository would make it easier to use the data for research and to support policy decisions,” says Anna Pärnänen, Development Manager.

The repository would also serve as the basis for the child data portal. Each time the repository is updated, the data on the portal would also be updated.

In future, more efforts should be made to produce and make available information about children. A knowledge base on a subject as broad as child wellbeing cannot be developed by one actor alone, but extensive cooperation between actors is required.

“The hope is that in future, by pulling together and utilising the expertise of different actors, we could create a more coherent and better knowledge base for users,” says Pärnänen.

The results of the work can be found in Finnish in the report entitled Lapsia koskeva tieto – Tietopohjan tila ja kehittämistarpeet.

Further information:
Report in Finnish: Lapsia koskeva tieto – Tietopohjan tila ja kehittämistarpeet
The English and Swedish versions of the report will be published later in the spring at
Implementation plan for the National Child Strategy (PDF) 
Development Manager Anna Pärnänen, tel. +358 29 551 3795
Senior Statistician Johanna Lahtela, tel. +358 29 551 3807