Huipputuloiset – Suomen rikkain promille caused a turmoil before its publication, which is a magnificent achievement for a nonfiction book in Finnish. The book explores the wealthiest per mille of Finnish citizens. There is little we know about their views despite their influential position in the society. The book is as much about how they found these people as much as what they said in interviews after agreeing to be interviewed.
As a researcher I paid special attention to the research process. For that the authors provide information in appendices. I was especially interested in how the authors managed to write about their study in an accessible way. I think that they succeeded in that, thanks to their skills, three anonymous reviewers and publishing editor (this list is gathered from their acknowledgements). I congratulate the authors in how they managed to (1) formulate a limited and interesting group of people to study, then (2) conducted the study with several people ploughing through statistics, public tax information, matching names with databases etc. and finally (3) conducted the actual interviews and analysed them. Admirable work!
The actual study focuses on the views of the wealthiest, which they divide into three groups: inheritors, business managers and entrepreneurs. What comes to the actual content of the interviews, the book portrays them in a composed, but yet elegant way. Interviewees are given space to express their anonymised views. These views are thematically organised in chapters, which leads to a coherent narrative.
The book an important window to the cultural beliefs of the wealthiest per mille of the Finnish population (based on tax income information). The findings are too nuanced to summarise in one blog post, but here are some highlights. It seems many are happy with results of the Finnish welfare state, but are concerned about the way it is achieved. They suggest that taxes are too high, people are too lazy and take advantage of social security. Moreover, competition between countries results in wealthy people leaving Finland and the decline of tax income as a nation. A minority proposes that taxes and other work or wealth related payments can be high also in other countries or regions, such as California, where other benefits related to universal access to education or healthcare might not equal the ones in Finland.
What I was left wondering about authorship of a book based on such extensive research. The book is a result of a project that, based on the acknowledgements, involved 8-10 other people, depending how their contribution is considered to be counted to benefit the book manuscript. Yet, two persons are considered as the authors of the book. I have all the confidence that they have agreed about this procedure amongst themselves in a fair way. My reflection relates to a broader question of who is capable of authoring the books we are expected to produce as academics. How long would it take me to write a book like this alone? How could I secure funding that would enable me to hire the required workforce? A possible life goal for me, then.
Finally some words about the language of this blog post. I decided to stick with English, although the book is in Finnish. First, I think it is fair that I portray also books written in Finnish. Second, I think this this is great window for non-Finnish speakers to get a glimpse of what is published in Finland in relation to postgrowth / degrowth work. More Finnish book reviews to come!