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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Strategic CSR - Finland

Here's an exercise in transparency for you. The article in the url below describes how, every year on the same day in Finland, everyone's taxable income is published:
"Pamplona can boast of the running of the bulls, Rio de Janeiro has Carnival, but Helsinki is alone in observing 'National Jealousy Day,' when every Finnish citizen's taxable income is made public at 8 a.m. sharp."
This event occurs on November 1 each year:
"The annual Nov. 1 data dump is the starting gun for a countrywide game of who's up and who's down. Which tousled tech entrepreneur has sold his company? Which Instagram celebrity is, in fact, broke? Which retired executive is weaseling out of his tax liabilities?"
In spite of the potential for social conflict, many in Finland argue that there are great benefits to exposing this information for everyone in the country:
"Finland is unusual, even among the Nordic states, in turning its release of personal tax data — to comply with government transparency laws — into a public ritual of comparison. Though some complain that the tradition is an invasion of privacy, most say it has helped the country resist the trend toward growing inequality that has crept across of the rest of Europe."
In spite of the voyeuristic pleasure to peeking into the lives of the rich and famous, however, others point to the micro-level downsides of such a social comparison:
"Transparency may or may not reduce inequality, but does tend to make people less satisfied, several concluded. A study of faculty members at the University of California, where pay was made accessible online in 2008, found that lower-earning workers, after learning how their pay stacked up, were less happy in their job and more likely to look for a new one."
Nevertheless, in Finland, the event has become the largest media event of the year, where "Helsinki tabloids often assign up to half their editorial staff to cover the release of the data":
"The second-biggest news deployment of the year is for Finnish Independence Day, on December 6."
Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the US.
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In Finland, Every Citizen's Taxable Income is Revealed
By Ellen Barry
November 2, 2018
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final