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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.

Nordic housing markets and policies

Housing plays a central role for people’s welfare. Its share of household consumption is about 25 percent on average, larger than that of any other item in a typical household’s budget. It is not surprising that issues related to housing figure prominently in public discussion. Nordic housing markets face more or less the same problems and challenges, but the ways policies and regulations deal with them differ in many respects. A comparison of policies, regulations and results across countries yields valuable lessons for policy makers. This year, the Nordic Economic Policy Review (NEPR) dives into the Nordic housing markets, examining some of the key policy mechanisms behind the rapidly rising housing prices, as well as the impacts on social welfare and social and ethnic segregation. The theme is selected by the NEPR steering group, which consists of representatives from the Nordic Ministries of Finance, Nordregio, and the NEPR academic project manager. This publication provides a short summary of the five NEPR 2021 articles, which seek to answer the following questions: André Anundsen: What is the prevalence of house price bubbles in the Nordics? Erlend Eide Bø: Do buy-to-let investments lead to higher housing prices? Mats Bergman and Sten Nyberg: What explains the large increase in the relative cost of construction? Niku Määttänen: How can housing taxation improve social welfare? Essi Eerola: How do Nordic housing policies affect affordability and integration? The full report is available here: https://pub.norden.org/nord2021-022/

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.

State of the Nordic Region 2020

The State of the Nordic Region 2020 gives you a unique look behind the scenes of the world’s most integrated region, comprised of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, along with Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Åland.   A comprehensive overview of the Nordics The Nordic Council of Ministers has a vision to make the Nordic Region the world’s most sustainable and integrated region by 2030. A closer look at the regional and local level reveals how the Nordic Region is developing and moving towards this target. This unique publication is a valuable tool in detecting and analysing the short-term and long-term changes within and between the countries: How are we realizing the vision? And what more should be done? The State of the Nordic Region 2020 presents a series of facts and figures showing the current state of play within core socio-economic sectors. This  includes: Demography – with chapters on children and young people”; Migration and mobility”; Ageing as a major demographic trend”. Labour market – with chapters on “The geographies of labour; “The Nordic labour market in 2040”. Economy – with chapters on “increased income inequality”; “The role of smart specialization”; “the biobased circular economy”. In addition, you can read about: Wellbeing in the Nordics Energy pathways towards a carbon-neutral Nordic Region The Regional Potential Index – a socioeconomic ranking of all regions in the Nordic countries Published in October 2020: State of the Nordic Region 2020 – Wellbeing, health and digitalisation edition State of the Nordic Region 2020 is produced by Sildenafil and published by our parent organization, the Nordic Council of Ministers.The report is also available in a new digital format.

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

Climate Policies in the Nordic Countries – Nordic Economic Policy Review 2019

The articles in the 2019 Nordic Economic Policy Review analyse how the Nordic countries best can contribute to international climate policy. The articles cover topics such as: How can the Nordics help raise the ambitions in the Paris Agreement? What is the effect of national policy on emissions regulated by the EU Emissions Trading System? Would it be cost-effective for the Nordic countries to pay for emission reductions elsewhere to a larger extent? What role should be played by subsidies to green technology? Should Norway put more emphasis on supply-side policies, that is, on limiting future extraction of oil and gas? Climate change has become a key concern for policy makers, business leaders and individuals all over the world. There exists a broad scientific consensus that the emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide (CO2), are responsible for global warming that, if not halted, could have unacceptable consequences, including catastrophic ones, in at least parts of the world. The main argument used by economists to motivate policy intervention against climate change is that emissions of greenhouse gases that drive global warming are an externality. The benefits of using fossil fuel accrue to the user, whereas the largely negative side effects are born by individuals spread over the globe and over very long time horizons. Since the externality extends across borders, a global collective-action problem arises with incentives for individual countries to free-ride on the climate policies by others. The volume contains five papers with associated comments which were originally presented at a conference in Stockholm on 24 October 2018.

LOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS FORMATION: The potential of local food initiatives in the Baltic Sea Region

In recent years, there has been growing interest in ‘alternative’ and ‘local’ food supply chains as a way to reduce externalities associated with mainstream food systems. ‘Alternative’ food chains are often built on values opposed to conventional industrial agriculture. They are small in scale, do not use pesticides, are close to consumers and have a distinctive place of origin. There are many different forms of alternative food systems. Common to these practices is the intention to reconnect producers and consumers, to increase transparency, to relocalize agricultural and food production, and to build trust among actors in the food system. This working paper describes the state of play of local food initiatives in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) by examining EU and national policy contexts and by highlighting good practices of local food initiatives in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and Belarus. The working paper investigates the key drivers and factors impeding the development of these initiatives. The working paper is based on desk studies, input received during meetings with stakeholders and researchers from the BSR, and interviews with good practice initiators in 2016–17. This working paper is one output of the Local food: Formation of local food markets project financed by the Swedish Institute. The overall aim of the project was to strengthen co-operation and to build knowledge of local food system formation by various actors working on rural development issues in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). Another objective of the project was to investigate and share good practices in building, shaping, reproducing and promoting alternative food networks and markets over time and space in the BSR countries (Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Belarus).