Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation

Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation is a private trust founded to promote Finnish research in economics and medicine and to support educational institutions and research facilities. It also supports Finnish research in the field of health economics, which overlaps with both fields of research mentioned above.

To implement these goals the Foundation gives out grants and prizes. The Foundation awards grants for research and postgraduate studies. The Foundation’s most important international award is the Yrjö Jahnsson Award in Economics.

The Foundation organizes lectures and seminars, such as the Yrjö Jahnsson Lectures and Medical Symposiums.

The Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation was established in 1954 by Mrs. Hilma Jahnsson, who provided the original capital by donating funds acquired with her husband Yrjö Jahnsson, a professor of economics.


Organisation

Board Members

  • Antti Suvanto, PhD, Chairman
  • Matti Pohjola, Professor
  • Katriina Aalto-Setälä, Professor
  • Asmo Kalpala, MSc
  • Jaakko Kiander, Docent

Investment Committee

  • Antti Suvanto, PhD, Chairman
  • Jaakko Kiander, Docent
  • Elli Dahl, Managing Director

Science Committee

  • Matti Pohjola, Professor, Chairman, Division of Economics Research
  • Katriina Aalto-Setälä, Professor, Chairman, Division of Medical Research
  • Jaakko Kiander, Docent, Chairman, Division of Medical Economics Research
  • Nine expert members

Management

  • Elli Dahl, Managing Director
  • Timo Hiltunen, Director of Medical Research
  • Tiina Lämsä, Financial Controller
  • Terhi Maczulskij, Research Director

Hilma and Yrjö Jahnsson

The Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation was established on December 16, 1954, by Mrs. Hilma Jahnsson (1882-1975) who donated funds acquired together with her husband. She herself wished to remain in the background, stipulating that the name of the foundation must never be changed. Thus it only bears the name of her spouse, Professor Yrjö Jahnsson (1877-1936), although it owes a great deal to them both.

The Jahnssons were born in Turku. Yrjö’s father who died young was a Doctor of Philosophy, a schoolmaster, and a Finnish nationalist. Hilma Hägg was the daughter of a prison warder, who died before she was born.

The Jahnssons both worked to finance their studies at the University of Helsinki, where they had earned their master’s degrees. Yrjö Jahnsson was a Fennoman and a social reformist. He completed his doctoral thesis on the history of Finnish economics from 1810 to 1860 in 1907. Hilma Jahnsson sacrificed her doctoral thesis on the conditions of women workers and concentrated on supporting her husband. Yrjö Jahnsson was appointed as the professor of economics at the Helsinki University of Technology in 1911.

Yrjö Jahnsson was active in many fields. He bought property, and even founded a brick factory to facilitate repairs to his properties. The Jahnssons became wealthy during the 1920s and 1930s. They had several residences in Helsinki. To assist her husband in administering their property, Hilma Jahnsson graduated in 1917 as the third female lawyer in the history of Finland. She worked as the secretary of the Labor Affairs Committee of the Finnish Parliament in 1917-30. Both the Jahnssons had previously worked as shorthand typists in parliament.

After the Jahnssons noticed that many of the Finnish-speaking youths were without a place to study, they financed the founding of the Helsingin Suomalainen Yhteislyseo school in 1923. They also founded Finland’s first night school in Helsinki in 1927.

In the early 1930s Yrjö Jahnsson became a prophet of the anti-depression movement as he criticized the hard interest and monetary policy of the government and the central bank, calling for them to take a more active role. However, his critical lecture at the Finnish Economic Association in 1931 met with little response – the lecture remained unpublished until 1985.

After the unexpected death of Yrjö Jahnsson in 1936, Hilma took the lead. She guarded their property through the Second World War, and vigorously oversaw the school they had founded to her very last years. In 1966 she was granted the Finnish honorary title kouluneuvos.

The couple had no children, and they had planned to establish a foundation for their property. In 1954, Mrs. Hilma Jahnsson established a foundation bearing her husband’s name, and served as the chairwoman of its board until 1971.