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State of the Nordic Region 2022

Introducing the 18th edition of State of the Nordic Region.   State of the Nordic Region 2022 has its point of departure in the Covid-19 pandemic and examines how it has affected demography, labour market and economy in the Nordic countries, regions and municipalities. State of the Nordic Region is published every two years and provides a comprehensive account of regional development trends in the Nordic countries based on the latest statistical data. Read the digital report State of the Nordic Region 2022 Download PDF version here Watch recordings from launch events here The State of the Nordic Region 2022 presents a collection of maps, figures and analysis within three core areas: demography, labour market, and economy. DEMOGRAPHY An evaluation of excess deaths reveals that Covid-19 greatly affected mortality in much of the Nordic Region in 2020, with Sweden showing the highest rates. However, compared to the rest of Europe, life expectancy still increased in most of the Nordic Region during 2020 (excluding Sweden). The Nordic Region also stands out in a European context with increasing numbers of births and natural population growth even during the pandemic; however, such growth was small, and immigration continues to be the main source of population increase.    Mortality and health Marriage, divorce and birth trends Migration LABOUR MARKET The pandemic has undoubtedly altered the Nordic labour market. Throughout Europe, unemployment rates increased during this season, though these effects were less pronounced in the Nordic Region. Leaders in the Nordic countries did not make a uniform response to the pandemic, leading to general discordance and complications for labour market mobility in cross-border regions. While distancing restrictions encouraged knowledge-based employees to work from home, workers such as those in service-sector jobs were most affected by temporary or permanent layoffs. Labour market impacts Labour market mobility between…

Nordregio Strategy 2021-2024

The Nordregio Strategy 2021-2024 outlines our main mission and core research focus areas, which have been carefully aligned to address the key objectives and needs of policymakers and practitioners outlined within Nordic cooperation steering documents. In recent years, there has been a convergence of several global megatrends which are having a major impact on all aspects of the Nordic economy, society and environment. Climate change, migration, rapid demographic developments, digitalization and automation, increasing urban-rural divides, and growing socio-economic inequalities are some of the main threats facing the Nordic Region. Nordregio is focused on identifying practical Nordic policy solutions to help overcome these challenges and promote socio-economic growth and environmental sustainability across the Nordic Region. The Nordregio Strategy 2021-2024 has been written as a collaborative effort by our staff members in close cooperation with Nordregio’s Board of Directors, which represents the Nordic countries, Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland. The overarching goals that guide Nordregio’s research are outlined in the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Action Plan for Vision 2030, which is approved by the Ministers for Nordic Co-operation. The Action Plan defines the work to achieve the objectives of the Vision through a series of initiatives linked to the Vision’s three strategic priorities: a green Nordic Region, a competitive Nordic Region, and a socially sustainable Nordic Region. During the 2021-2024 period, Nordregio is committed to delivering high quality scientific, evidence-based research designed to provide policymakers and practitioners with sustainable policies to help overcome the main challenges faced by Nordic regions and municipalities. Our research will contribute substantially towards Nordic cooperation and synergies, while also showcasing Nordic policies, experience and competences internationally. The Board approved the Nordregio Strategy on the 15th of April 2021.

Localising the Sustainable Development Goals in Europe: Perspectives for the north

How do Nordic and European organisations support Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) implementation at the local level? Which initiatives are relevant for different Nordic countries? This report considers localisation efforts and serves as a guide, with the references providing information and background on selected Nordic and European SDG localisation efforts, reflecting important objectives, priorities, and key activities of the different institutions, organisations, and programmes. The aim of the report is to help navigate among the available resources and to identify which initiatives, networks, or tools might be most suitable for a given context and available capacities. According to the author of the report Diana N. Huynh, Junior Research Fellow at Nordregio, this report addresses primarily a Norwegian context, but it also builds on previous Nordregio work and Nordic Council of Minister’s publications. In many ways, it is taking stock and consolidating Nordic efforts to localise the 2030 Agenda with a European outlook in mind. Moving forward, it will be important to (re)consider how the Nordic countries are supporting regional and local level SDG implementation through national policies and action plans. Also – looking at the potential to strengthen policy coherence and/or indicator frameworks not just as it is planned and carried out within each country but across the Nordic Region. The report was published together with The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS). It provides an inspiration and further references to advance the work on Agenda 2030.

State of the Nordic Region 2020 -Wellbeing, health and digitalisation

This Special Edition aims to complement State of the Nordic Region 2020 by taking an in-depth look at some of the factors that contribute to wellbeing and health in the Nordic Region, and exploring how digitalisation in health care and social care can contribute to wellbeing. The theme of the report connects to the Nordic vision to become the most sustainable and integrated region in the world. This will be achieved by, among other things, promoting a socially sustainable Nordic Region which is inclusive, equal and interconnected with shared values and strengthened cultural exchange and welfare. National statistics and international comparisons provide an overview of how the countries are performing on different indicators relating tohealth and wellbeing. In order to learn more about wellbeing in different parts of the Nordic Region, we have also zoomed in on the regional and local levels. The report illustrates the central role of demography, whereby the composition and the spatial patterns of the population together with socioeconomic factors contribute to shaping the living conditions and wellbeing in different parts of the Nordic Region. Although life expectancy is increasing, the loss of healthy years due to non-communicable diseases and poor health-related behaviours remain obstacles to further improvement of health and wellbeing. Socio-economic factors such as education, employment and income have important roles to play as regards health and well being. Despite a general pattern of urban regions being richer, more well educated and living longer, we also find many thriving rural areas attracting new young residents. Digital infrastructure plays a crucial role in the development of those rural areas, and digitalisation in health care and social care also holds a promise of increasing equal accessibility to welfare services in rural and remote areas. A prerequisite for this is however to secure internet access to all…

Unlocking the potential of silver economy in the Nordic Region

Silver economy – all economic activities linked to older age groups – has emerged as a response to population ageing in Europe in recent years. Many older people continue to make valuable economic and societal contributions after retirement, and older citizens can provide significant economic and societal benefits, particularly if they are healthy and active. This study examines policies and initiatives to promote the silver economy and the closely related concepts of healthy ageing, active ageing and age-friendliness. The report seeks to uncover what are the preconditions for expanding the Nordic silver economy, and how cross-border collaboration can help enhance the potential of the silver economy in border regions. The prerequisites for expanding the Nordic silver economy seem to be relatively good compared with many other European countries. The general trend also shows that employment rates are increasing among older age groups, which seems to be connected to the pension system reforms that have been implemented in several countries. Population ageing has gained increased policy attention in many Nordic regions and municipalities. This includes the border regions of Trøndelag (Norway) and Jämtland Härjedalen (Sweden), studied in this report, where numerous policy initiatives have been launched as a response to population ageing. Many of these initiatives can be seen as contributing to strengthening the silver economy, although the concept itself does not figure on the policy agendas in these regions. Report of the project ‘Unlocking the potential of silver economy in the Nordic Region’ carried out under the Nordic Thematic Group for Sustainable Rural Development (2017–2020).

Closed borders and divided communities: status report and lessons from Covid-19 in cross-border areas

The situation that has unfolded due to the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility of Nordic co-operation. In this status report, we look at the situation in border communities following the closing of the border, and what this may tell us about the state of Nordic co-operation – Vision 2030 for which includes integration. This study employs an institutional perspective for studying Nordic co-operation, in order to help shed some light on changing intra-Nordic dynamics. It analyses cross-border co-operation and its role within Nordic co-operation, as well as considering it more generally as a component of multilevel governance structures. In their role as para-diplomatic organisations, cross-border committees are key to ensuring ongoing dialogue across municipalities on either side of the border, as well as facilitating the objectives of further regional and local integration between states across the Nordic Region and in the European Union (EU). The ability of border areas to exist side-by-side in an integrated, seamless way corresponds to the Nordic vision of being the most integrated region in the world. However, it is clear from this study that the role of Nordic co-operation is at a crossroads: which road it will take depends upon Nordic states’ willingness to use this platform strategically – either as a ‘must have’, or merely as a ‘nice to have’. The way border communities and cross-border collaboration is treated in a post-pandemic context will shed some light on the nature of resilience in Nordic co-operation. This report was carried out by the Nordic thematic group for innovative and resilient regions 2017-2020 and was commissioned by the cross-border organisations Bothnian Arc and the Svinesund Committee.

TG2 Innovative and Resilient Regions – Roadshow report

This document reports on the Nordic TG2 Roadshow, which was commissioned by the Nordic Thematic Group for Innovative and Resilient Regions. The Nordic Thematic Group for Innovative and Resilient Regions 2017–2020 (TG2) was established by the Nordic Council of Ministers as a part of the Nordic Co-operation Programme for Regional Development and Planning 2017–2020. The TG2 group was organised under the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Committee of Civil Servants for Regional Affairs, and Nordregio has acted as Secretariat for the thematic groups. The Roadshow events of TG2 were attended by regional, national, Nordic, and international stakeholders in 2018–2020. The events provided insights into the latest knowledge on innovative and resilient regions, with a focus on smart specialisation, digitalisation, regional resilience, and skills policies. Moreover, many Roadshow events tackled the research themes from a cross-border perspective. The feedback from the regional Roadshow events suggests that dissemination of research results and constant dialogue with stakeholders are highly appreciated by the stakeholders. Moreover, the TG2 Roadshow programme was the opportunity to bring together a range of actors and, in doing so, initiate and support processes that may not have occurred otherwise.

The Nordic Thematic Group for Innovative and Resilient Regions 2017–2020 – final report

This report summarises the work and results of the Nordic thematic group for innovative and resilient regions (TG2) in 2017–2020. The Nordic thematic group for innovative and resilient regions 2017–2020 (TG2) was established by the Nordic Council of Ministers and is a part of the Nordic Co-operation Programme for Regional Development and Planning 2017–2020. Three Nordic thematic groups were established for the four-year period: Innovative and resilient regions, Sustainable rural development, and Sustainable cities and urban development. The thematic groups have been organised under the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Committee of Civil Servants for Regional Affairs, and Nordregio has acted as the secretariat for the thematic groups. The thematic group has not only produced high-quality research on innovative and resilient regions in the Nordic countries but also contributed to public policy with the latest knowledge on the creation and development of innovative and resilient regions across the Nordic countries, with focus on smart specialisation, digitalisation, regional resilience, and skills policies. TG2 has also contributed to research on innovative and resilient regions in the Nordic cross-border context.

Synergies between Nordic studies on resilience, digitalisation, smart specialisation and skills development

Regional (economic and social) resilience determines how capable the regional economies are to cope with change (negative or positive shocks or stress) and continue to develop. Regional resilience is achieved through regional actions that turn global perspectives into strengths and opportunities. Generally speaking, regional resilience is adesirable place to be in, and this should be supported by all different policies and regional actions. Rather than being and end result, regional resilience should be seen as a continuous effort of addressing and adapting to global trends and other developments that may threaten the economy and social wellbeing. Global drivers such as demographic trends and industrial changes, sustainable development, and green transition, need to be met in Nordic regions through place-based actions. Smart specialisation strategies, skills development, and actions supporting the digital transition are examples of place-based actions that strengthen regional resilience. This dynamic state of being reflects the Nordic Vision 2030 of a green, competitive and socially sustainable Nordic region. In addition to synergies between the major themes, the study also revealed topics of high common relevance for all themes of the TG2 work. These relate to the importance of bridging across governance levels and sectors and finding new models for leadership and engagement. This section explores the more general regional development measures needed to support the development towards innovative and resilient regions.

Digital Health Care and Social Care – Regional development impacts in the Nordic countries

Health care and social care are not only important aspects of the Nordic welfare state model. The development of those sectors also has an important impact on the regional development and sustainability(economically, socially and environmentally) in the Nordic Region. The use of digital solutions in both sectors is increasing across all the Nordic countries. However, in relation to the ambitious goals set out in national digitalisation and eHealth strategies, digitalisation in health care and social care can be seen to have been developing at a relatively moderate pace. This research is part of the Health care and care with distance-spanning solutions project initiated and funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers.The aim of this research has been to explore the effects and potential benefits to regional development, and to address the various obstaclesfacing digitalisation in health care and social care throughout the Region.In addition to literature reviews of the different health care systems, digitalisation in the health care and social care sectors and how theselink to regional development, case studies have been conducted in one region and municipality in each of the Nordic Region’s five states (Sweden,Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland) and in two of the self-governing territories (the Faroe Islands and Greenland). These case studies include interviews with senior management, project leaders and health care and social care workers. An accessibility analysis has also been conducted with a view to understanding how access to health care and social care can be improved by digital solutions in these sectors.

In-depth accessibility study – Regional development impacts in the Nordic countries

This accessibility study is an annex to the main VOPD main report and shows the current situation regarding the potential geographic accessibility of health care for the residents in the VOPD case study regions. The report also addresses the situation regarding the potential accessibility of social care for the elderly population in the VOPD case study municipalities. The theoretical approach and methodology is built on a previous Nordregio project commissioned by the Icelandic Office for Regional Development (Byggðastofnun) in 2016, which covered the potential geographic accessibility of health care in the Icelandic regions. The Nordic ‘Health care and care with distance-spanning solutions’ (VOPD) project has been initiated and funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers, with Glesbygdsmedicinskt Centrum as lead partner. The aim is to explore different aspects of digitalisation in the health and care sectors, and what impact these transformations might have on regional development. The geographical scope of the study is the Nordic Region as a whole, and the case study regions were specifically chosen as representative of rural regions in each country. In this perspective, results from the case study regions have been presented in such a way that any insight could be applied to other Nordic Regions with similar geographies and residential patterns.

Rural perspectives on digital innovation: Experiences from small enterprises in the Nordic countries and Latvia

The Nordic countries are at the forefront of digitalisation in Europe. The Baltic States show a more mixed performance, but still score around or above average on the European  commission’s annual measure of digital progress, the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). Despite this positive development overall, disparities remain with respect to digital development within countries; with rural and sparsely populated areas often lagging behind on the availability of digital infrastructure and the adoption of digital technologies. As such, this project sought to provide a rural perspective on the second goal: Strengthening the competitiveness of our enterprises through digitalisation. Specifically, it aimed to demonstrate how smart, sustainable and inclusive approaches to digitalisation can be used as a tool to increase the competitiveness and attractiveness of rural areas by exploring the challenges and opportunities for small enterprises in rural and sparsely populated areas. The baseline study explored the nature of digital transformation in rural areas and reflected on opportunities and challenges for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in rural areas in each of the Nordic countries and in Latvia. The study was developed through desk-based research conducted by Nordregio and a report prepared by Vidzeme Planning Region which detailed the Latvian context. It provided an overall context for the digitalisation of SMEs in rural areas including sector-specific information on the bioeconomy, manufacturing and tourism sectors. The project was funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers for Digitalisation (MR-Digital), the Nordic Thematic Group for Innovative and Resilient Regions 2017- 2020 and the North Atlantic Cooperation (NORA) and included a baseline study, local workshops and a webinar series. Its primary focus was the Nordic countries and Latvia; however, data is also provided for Estonia and Lithuania where possible. You can learn about project results in digital divide, tourism, manufacturing and bioeconomy through these…