Laihiala, Tuomo & Ohisalo, Maria (2017)

charity food aid as an indicator of gender and social inequalities in finland


The article explores food aid recipients (N = 3 474), one of the so-called hard-to-survey-groups, in terms of gender differences and quality of life (QOL) in Finland and compares it to the Finnish population at large. It also attends to socio-economic predictors of disadvantage. Food aid makes inequalities in a welfare state palpable: lonely, often middle-aged unemployed men face several QOL deficits (male-typical social exclusion). Women, in turn, face structural inequalities during their life course – those living alone, being single-parents, or older pensioners experience economic disadvantage and income inequality (female-typical poverty). Recipients of food aid report explicitly lower levels of QOL than the general population. The most disadvantaged are the unemployed and those who rely on food aid frequently. Women report lower levels of health and insufficient income more often than men. The deepest deficits in QOL are reported by men: they experience hunger and loneliness as well as have problems in coping in life. Women’s old age and men’s lowest monthly incomes as well as rental accommodation predict the highest levels of disadvantage.


Keywords: Charity food aid, experience of disadvantage, food banks, gender, inequality, quality of life.