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Remote work: Effects on Nordic people, places and planning 2021-2024 

This report is the first outcome of the project Remote work: Effects on Nordic people, places and planning 2021-2024. This report provides a broad understanding of the current situation (May, 2022) regarding remote work in the Nordic countries, particularly in relation to potential urban and regional development effects. It provides insight into emerging trends in the countries based on Nordic research, statistical data, and stakeholder interviews. Further, it considers the national level policy frameworks that “set the stage” for the development of remote work practices in the Nordic countries. Our findings suggest that higher levels of remote work are likely to be maintained in the long term in all Nordic countries, at least to some degree. Importantly, however, there is little evidence to support a large-scale shift towards a “remote first” mindset among Nordic workers or workplaces. This means that, for the majority of workers and workplaces, the most likely scenario will be some form of hybrid arrangement. The effectiveness of these arrangements in promoting wellbeing and quality of life for workers, as well as the extent to which collaboration and innovation thrive under hybrid conditions, will both be key factors in determining whether remote work remains more common in the long term. From a spatial perspective, the patterns of migration, mobility and multilocality observed in the Nordic countries during the pandemic support the idea that increased remote work will have implications for planners in Nordic cities, regions, and rural areas. Daily commuting became less common and internal migration patterns suggest that this has been accompanied by a willingness to travel further. Some rural municipalities also appear to have become more desirable. This is evidenced by the slowing, or even reversal, of trends towards population decline and also by increased demand for and use of second homes. If these trends continue, they…

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…

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.

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.

Regional tourism satellite accounts for the Nordic countries

Tourism has played a growing role in the last two decades in the economic development of many Nordic countries until the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the tourism sector suffered from the effects of reduced travel desire and restrictions. After relief, tourist influx will resurrect and again affect local economies around the Nordic region. Tourism has economic effects. When people travel, they pay for goods and / or services such as accommodation, food, souvenirs and activities. They may be shopping in preparation for their trip or as part of their return trip. Before, during and after the trip, their expenses are directly related to the tourism activity which generates profits, rent, tax revenue, investment and employment. Tourism also has indirect economic effects, for example on hotels, restaurants and other service providers who shop from other companies to meet demand from tourists or by employees in the tourism industry using their income to pay rent, insurance or merchandise. These trickle-down effects seep down and support the economic development of regions where tourism develops and flourishes. Exact quantification of the contributions and costs associated with tourism is challenging for many different reasons. The Nordic countries have individually (except the Faroe Islands and Greenland) prepared satellite accounts to get an overview of the economic effects of tourism, but to varying degrees worked with regional satellite accounts which can provide insight into the difference in the importance of tourism’s economic contribution to regional economies. That is what this report is about. We have prepared a report whose purpose is to introduce the potential of Regional Tourism satellite accounts and describe their function and weaknesses in estimating the effects of tourism on regional economies. We also assess whether there are preconditions for developing a joint Nordic tourism account by virtue of the recognized satellite methods. Part…

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.

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…