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27 Publications

Integrating immigrants into the Nordic labour markets. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

A new Report “Integrating immigrants into the Nordic labour markets. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic” by Nordregio and the Nordic Council of Minsters shows that the Covid-19 pandemic has made social and economic inequalities even more pronounced in the Nordic countries. In all countries, foreign-born people have experienced stronger increases in unemployment than their native-born peers. Immigrants born outside the EU, especially individuals with low levels of education, have faced the largest challenges in finding and keeping employment in 2020. In the new report, researchers stress that the current crisis also underscores the need for uniform social insurance systems. Statistics from Norway show that immigrants from new EU member countries in Central and Eastern Europe have been vastly overrepresented among job losers. Hence, the inclusion of these workers in a relatively generous social insurance system has been critical to prevent poverty and minimize demand-driven ‘knock-on effects’ from income decline in industries directly affected by the crisis. This study builds on a comprehensive report about immigrant integration into the Nordic labour markets that was published by the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2019. It revisits some of the conclusions and policy recommendations outlined in 2019 – in relation to the impact of Covid-19 on unemployment among foreign-born. The report is part of the Nordic Cooperation Programme for Integration of Immigrants, initiated in 2016, in which the Nordic Welfare Centre and Nordregio cooperate.  Read a debate article in Dagens Nyheter here. Visit the Nordic Cooperation Programme for Integration of Immigrants

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.

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.

Transport for Regional Integration – Insights from three Nordic cross-border regions

Acknowledging that cross-border transport infrastructure is paramount for the Nordic Region to reach the vision of becoming the most sustainable and integrated region by 2030 (Nordic Council of Ministers, 2020), this report discusses the challenges of planning and developing transport connections across national borders.  It draws on the outcome of studies of transport infrastructure in three cross border areas. The first case study discusses what could be the effects of the introduction of faster train service on the urban development of small and medium-sized (SMS) cities located along the Oslo -Stockholm corridor (Grunfelder et al., 2019). The second analyses the impact of the ferry link between Umeå and Vaasa has in the cross-border cooperation and integration of the Kvarken region (Stjernberg and Sigurjónsdóttir, 2020). The third explores the planning challenges and opportunities resulted from the different transit-oriented development strategies employed by four SMS-cities from Sweden and Denmark to handle their engagement in the railway system of Great Copenhagen Region (Grunfelder et al., 2020). The report concludes outlining the role of Nordic institutions to facilitate the work of the national transport authorities. Commission studies that investigate the value of cross-border links for the development of the countries and create forums to mediate discussions between stakeholders from different governance levels, are pinpointed as mean to overcoming obstacles and improving the integration of the Nordic Region.

Transit-oriented development in the Greater Copenhagen Region – Insights from small- and medium- sized cities

Cross-border cooperation has long been a strong element of the Nordic Region’s efforts to become better integrated, while simultaneously working towards shared ambitions in the areas of economic, environmental and social sustainability. During the Covid-19 pandemic, for instance, challenges inevitably emerged as countries shut down borders. This effectively put cross-border cooperation into gridlock. Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, however, the Greater Copenhagen Region (GCR) had been chosen to illustrate the potential challenges of planning and development in a Nordic cross-border context. This is the scope that this working paper is operating within.  The aim of this report is to provide a backdrop for future discussions about ways in which spatial and transportation planning, particularly in small- and medium-sized (SMS) cities, can ensure sustainable mobility solutions and enhance local and regional  integration, supporting regional development in Greater Copenhagen, and Nordic collaboration more broadly.  The research questions that have been explored are:  How can an enhanced understanding of transit-oriented development (TOD) characteristics and mobility planning in small- and medium-sized (SMS) cities contribute to a more integrated Greater Copenhagen Region?  What are the multi-functional roles and potentials for the development of areas surrounding railway stations in small- and medium-sized cities from a planning and design perspective? 

The Kvarken ferry link and its importance in cross-border cooperation and integration

This report shows that a reliable transport link has been central to maintaining and developing cross-border relations in the Kvarken region. Sea traffic has been the lifeline enabling cross-border interactions and exchanges throughout the centuries, and cross-border cooperation has remained largely dependent on the ferry connection until this day. Over the decades, the depth and breadth of cooperation between the Finnish and Swedish sides of Kvarken have followed changes in the ferry connection. From the 1970s onwards, passenger traffic over the Kvarken Strait increased significantly, and cross-border cooperation became more established and varied. However, the abolishment of tax-free sales on the Kvarken ferry in 1999 was, in many ways, a turning point that led to a significant decline in traffic and had a severe, negative effect on cross-border relations. The first decade of the 21st century has been described as a low point in cross-border cooperation across Kvarken, because the unstable and limited ferry connection between Vaasa and Umeå made it difficult to maintain and develop the economic, social, and cultural ties that had been established during previous decades. Following this period of decline, joint actions were taken by actors on the Finnish and Swedish sides of the Kvarken region to reinstate a new, stable ferry connection in 2012, highlighting the importance of this traffic link to both parties. The arguments for reinstating the ferry link focused not only on improving connectivity, but on providing a new basis for re-strengthening cross-border relations and developing stronger synergies across the region, which were considered to depend on a reliable traffic link allowing frequent travel. The reinstated ferry connection has had numerous direct and indirect effects on both sides of the Kvarken Strait, such as cooperation within research, education, healthcare, and tourism, as well as new forms of cooperation between businesses, all of which…

Integrating immigrants into the Nordic labour markets

Migration to the Nordic region increased strongly during the refugee crisis in 2015. On a per-capita basis, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden have taken in more asylum seekers than most other European countries. In the coming years, these refugees and subsequent newcomers have to be integrated into the Nordic labour markets, if asylum is granted. This will be an extremely challenging process. All Nordic countries are characterised by significant employment gaps between natives and foreign born, with particularly large gaps existing in Denmark, Finland and Sweden. Refugees in particular are more dependent on welfare support and less likely to be employed than natives. In recent years, an increasing number of studies have analysed measures to promote employment among migrants. Nonetheless, a systematic review of how different policies influence employment rates of refugees and other migrant groups in the Nordic countries has not been available previously. A new report produced by Nordregio for the Nordic Council of Ministers now gives an overview of existing measures to integrate immigrants into the Nordic labour market including policy recommendations and outlines of best practice. The following policy briefs are excerpts from the report Integrating Immigrants into the Nordic Labour Markets: Integrating Immigrants into the Nordic Labour Markets: An Overall Perspective, by Lars Calmfors and Nora Sánchez Gassen Active labour-market policies and newly arrived immigrants, by Pernilla Andersson Joona Immigration and social insurance design, by Bernt Bratsberg, Oddbjørn Raaum and Knut Røed Education policies for adolescent immigrants, by Anders Böhlmark Wage policies and the integration of immigrants, by Simon Ek and Per Skedinger How should the integration effort be organised?, by Vibeke Jakobsen and Torben Tranæs Policies promoting higher employment for non-Western immigrant women, by Jacob Nielsen Arendt and Marie Louise Schultz-Nielsen Education efforts and the integration of immigrants, by Tuomas Pekkarinen

Policy Briefs – Integrating Immigrants into the Nordic Labour Markets

The following policy briefs are excerpts from the report Integrating Immigrants into the Nordic Labour Markets: Integrating Immigrants into the Nordic Labour Markets: An Overall Perspective, by Lars Calmfors and Nora Sánchez Gassen Active labour-market policies and newly arrived immigrants, by Pernilla Andersson Joona Immigration and social insurance design, by Bernt Bratsberg, Oddbjørn Raaum...

Policies and measures for speeding up labour market integration of refugees in the Nordic region: A knowledge overview

It takes on average five to ten years for a refugee to find work in the Nordic countries. As social inclusion is closely linked to successful labour market integration, and as during this period the refugee represents a cost to society, the question of how to ensure access to the labour market has been a prominent issue on the political agenda. Since the countries show both differences and similarities in their migration policies and practical solutions, the question is how we can learn from each other. In 2016 the Nordic Council of Ministers initiated a co-operation programme designed to support the national efforts on integration of refugees and immigrants. The Nordic Welfare Centre has the overall responsibility for the main project “Nordic collaboration on integration of refugees and migrants” in close collaboration with Nordregio. The aim of the project is to serve as an idea bank on the integration area, to map out existing knowledge and research, and to expand our common knowledge base on integration. This report was produced by Nordregio on behalf of the Nordic Welfare Centre and is the result of a comparative study of policies and measures in place in the countries for achieving more efficient labour market integration of refugees. A short version of the report is also available as a policy brief (in Swedish). Read more about the Nordic integration project at www.integrationnorden.org

Urban Contractual Policies in Northern Europe

The co-ordination and integration of transport, land use and housing planning has emerged as an important policy direction to promote sustainable development in the Nordic countries. To facilitate sectorial co-ordination and integration, different types of multi-level arrangements between state authorities, regional bodies and local municipalities have been developed. Formal and informal agreements between state (national) authorities and municipalities regarding sectorial policies in areas such as transport and infrastructure are not a new or unusual phenomenon. However, what is interesting is the combination of cross-sectorial and multi-level governance, along with the adoption of different types of contractual or agreement-based policies among various public authorities (i.e. public–public relations). These different ‘agreement-based urban policies’ or ‘contractual urban polices’ that are emerging in Finland, Norway and Sweden are also becoming institutionalized. Urban contractual policy is a key instrument for the Norwegian Government to steer urban development towards the goal of zero growth in car traffic. The multi-level agreement is a strategic instrument to coordinate actors and policy measures, including various forms of financing under a common policy framework. In Finland, contracts entitled ‘letters of intent’ have been developed in recent years for land use, housing and transport (2012-2015). The aim of these has been to create integrated, efficient and competitive urban city-regions via co-operation between the state and municipalities in the city-regions. During 2015, urban environment agreements were also introduced in Sweden. This working paper provides an introduction to these new developments including contractual urban policy initiatives in Finland, Norway and Sweden. It also compares these with developments in France and the UK. The Nordic urban contractual policies reviewed here seek to integrate land-use, housing and transport, i.e. they are cross-sectorial arrangements. They have also been established primarily in order to promote sustainable urban development. Furthermore, institutionalization of these urban contractual polices in the…