The economic and political transformations that Finland has experienced since the last decades of the nineteenth century have radically altered the country's social structure. In the first phase of this transformation, industrialization expanded the economy, created hitherto unknown occupational groups, and forced the old bureaucratic and clerical elite to share power and prestige with a new entrepreneurial class. The political transformation established a democratic republic in which parties representing workers and farmers successfully contended for the highest public offices. After World War II, the two processes of transformation quickened. In one generation, the manner in which Finns lived and earned their livelihood changed in an unprecedented way. An essentially rural society moved to the city; farmers, for centuries the most numerous class, ceded this position to white-collar workers; and prosperity replaced poverty.
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