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State of the Nordic Region 2024

State of the Nordic Region 2024 takes stock of the latest trends and developments in demography, labour market and economy in the Nordic countries, regions, municipalities, and cities. This year’s report marks the 20th edition of the State of the Nordic Region, a bi-annually published report that provides a Nordic panorama of regional development trends in the Nordic countries based on the latest statistical data, maps and analyses. Watch the video from the online launch event (19 June) to get an overview of the report highlights! The State of the Nordic Region 2024 presents a collection of maps, figures and analysis within three core areas: demography, labour market, and economy, as well as a newly updated Regional Potential Index. DEMOGRAPHY What are the latest demographic trends in the Nordic Region? What kind of impact did the pandemic have on different aspects of demographic development? The demography section compiles insights from population statistics on mortality and birth, population change and migration in the Nordic Region based on the most recent available data.   Ch 1: Population change beyond the pandemic Ch 2: Fertility decline in the Nordic Region Ch 3: The Nordic geography of diversity LABOUR MARKET What kind of labour market trends are the most prevalent in the Nordic Region at the moment? How has the labour market recovered since the pandemic? Do we have the necessary skills and compe­tences to remain competitive in the future? And how is the green transition shaping the labour market? The labour market section tackles the latest developments of the labour market from different perspectives. Ch 4: The Nordic labour market after the pandemic Ch 5: Challenges of labour shortages and skills provision Ch 6: Green transition of the labour market ECONOMY Achieving sustainable, long-term regional development requires that economic, environmental, and social aspects are…

The Common Nordic Labour Market 70 Years and Beyond

This report explores the past, present, and future of labour mobility in the Nordic Region. Historical milestones and migration trends that have shaped cross-border employment are examined, highlighting both advancements and ongoing challenges such as tax legislation and language barriers. With the demand for highly educated workers increasing amidst demographic changes, the importance of Nordic cooperation and the growing trend of remote work are also discussed. The common Nordic labour market, formalised in 1954, was an extension of Sweden’s earlier efforts in the 1940s to support its booming industry. Over the years, various Nordic countries joined European frameworks like the EEC and the European Economic Area (EEA), enhancing mobility. Despite the unique long-standing cooperation and freedom, practical barriers still hinder seamless cross-border labour movement. Could a more integrated Nordic labour market contribute to solve lack of competence and skills mismatch? Today, only 1.6 % live in another Nordic country than they were born in, and a lower share than the EU average commute to another Nordic country for work. We end the report by asking four daring and forward-looking questions, with the aim of starting a discussion about how the common Nordic labour market can be developed further and encourage readers to think more broadly and look ahead to the future. 

Svensk-norskt samarbete: viktiga utmaningar och framtida möjligheter

Denna rapport, beställd av Region Värmland, analyserar gränshinder inom den statliga regionalpolitiken mellan Sverige och Norge, med målet att belysa integrationen av gränsperspektivet och diskutera utmaningar samt möjligheter för gränsöverskridande samarbete. Gränsen mellan Sverige och Norge beskrivs som “mjuk” med omfattande flöden, där historien av samarbete erbjuder betydande potential. Starka sociala band och ‘den mjuka gränsen’ främjar arbetskraftens rörlighet och affärssamarbeten, vilket bidrar till ökad konkurrenskraft och större marknader. Rapporten identifierar även gränshinder som påverkar individer, pendlare, och företag i gränsområdet. Den betonar vikten av dialog och samverkan för att ta tillvara möjligheter och hitta lösningar på gemensamma utmaningar. Rapporten framhåller att den regionala politiken i båda länderna ger regionerna ansvar för utveckling, men pekar på skillnader i hur gränsöverskridande aspekter hanteras. Den understryker vikten av gränsöverskridande samarbete för att skapa en integrerad arbetsmarknad och främja ekonomisk utveckling, trots att dessa aspekter har fått minskad uppmärksamhet i de nuvarande nationella strategierna. Rapporten uppmanar till en ökad inriktning på gränsöverskridande samarbete och bättre utnyttjande av regionernas potential för att överbrygga gränshinder och främja en hållbar utveckling i gränsregionerna.

Remote Work in Rural Areas: Possibilities and uncertainties

This study investigates the role of remote work in enhancing the resilience of rural and remote municipalities in the Nordic countries, highlighting the shift towards hybrid work models. The report presents six case studies, each detailing the context, challenges and opportunities associated with remote work. The study found that many public authorities lack formal remote work policies, relying on pre-existing or pandemic-developed frameworks aimed at work-life balance. The research points to remote work’s potential for attracting and retaining residents and skilled workers, crucial for rural development, despite challenges like the need for improved digital infrastructure and the absence of formal policies. Initiatives like co-working spaces and the focus on enhancing regional attractiveness through quality of life and infrastructure investments are seen as key to leveraging remote work for sustainable regional development. However, the study also notes obstacles such as legislative issues and the need for comprehensive strategies to fully realise the benefits of remote work for rural revitalisation. Remote work offers a pathway to sustainable development in Nordic regions by introducing new skills, enhancing business innovation, and improving public services, which helps combat out-migration and boosts quality of life. For maximum impact, investments in digital infrastructure, supportive work environments, and regional attractiveness are crucial, paving the way for a more vibrant and sustainable future.

Employers’ perspectives on hiring immigrants – Experiences from the Nordic countries

This report dives into the perspectives of Nordic employers on hiring low-skilled immigrants. Its objective is to uncover both opportunities and challenges faced by employers and to explore potential solutions for a more inclusive recruitment. The Nordic Region faces significant challenges in labour market participation, with a notable gap between native-born individuals and migrants, particularly affecting women, those with lower education levels, and non-EU citizens. Paradoxically, the region is at the same time grappling with severe labour shortages across various sectors. This report was produced in close collaboration with the Nordic Welfare Centre as part of the Nordic Programme for Integration of Immigrants. It aims to inspire Nordic employers, staffing companies, and public-sector and civil society organizations to collaborate on creating inclusive solutions for the labour market. Existing research predominantly focuses on individual-level obstacles faced by migrants, such as limited language skills, low education, and a lack of work experience in the host country. This study seeks to shift the spotlight onto the role and responsibility of employers in fostering the successful integration of immigrants into the labour markets. Employers participating in this study express a belief that the long-term benefits of hiring immigrants outweigh the initial challenges. However, obstacles exist, ranging from structural and organizational barriers to individual challenges like language proficiency. Success is attributed to diversity management, committed leadership and collaboration with public-sector entities and third-sector actors. The literature review and interviews reveal that employers are driven by the need to address labour shortages, especially in sectors like healthcare and hospitality. The benefits of hiring immigrants include a diverse workforce, improved productivity, and positive community impact. The findings in this report underscore the commitment of many employers to instigate positive change. Their motivations extend beyond mere workforce gap filling, reflecting a desire to contribute positively to the local…

Rooting for the Rural: Changing narratives and creating opportunities for Nordic rural youth

This policy brief delves into the importance of understanding and supporting the priorities of young people in Nordic rural regions to ensure these communities thrive. It highlights the importance of addressing challenges that keep youth from staying in rural areas and engaging with those unsure about their future there. Serving as a comprehensive guide for policymakers, the policy brief contextualises the report from the Nordic rural youth panel “From Fields to Futures: 40 action points for rural revitalisation”. The brief examines academic discussions, prevalent narratives, and youth engagement efforts, emphasising the Nordic Rural Youth Panel’s 40 proposed actions to revitalise rural areas. The paper investigates what young people need and want, their aspirations and ideas, and the solutions they present to policymakers that could attract them back to rural areas. It also explores ways to create and enhance opportunities for rural youth to realise their potential and contribute significantly to their communities, thereby changing the existing narratives about young people in rural areas. Lastly, the policy brief stresses the importance of considering diverse youth perspectives in policymaking to promote inclusive and sustainable rural development in alignment with the Nordic Vision.

Demografi och kompetensförsörjning i gränsområdet Innlandet-Dalarna-Värmland

Denna rapport är beställd av Gränsregionen Innlandet-Dalarna med syftet att ta fram statistik över gränsregionen Innlandet-Dalarna (inklusive Värmland) med fokus på kompetensförsörjning i gränskommunerna mellan Sverige och Norge. Rapporten innehåller statistik över arbetsmarknaden i gränsområdet med fokus på nutid och utveckling under den senaste tioårsperioden. I den här avslutande delen vänds i stället blicken mot framtiden för att diskutera de trender som väntas påverka framtidens arbetsmarknad och de utmaningar och möjligheter det kan innebära för gränskommunerna i Innlandet-Dalarna-Värmland. Det som styr tillgång och efterfrågan på arbetsmarknaden på lång sikt är främst de större megatrenderna. Men även konjunkturfaktorer och specifika händelser kan ha stor påverkan på kort sikt. Arbetsmarknaden är tätt knuten till den ekonomiska konjunkturen och enskilda händelser som pandemin och Rysslands invasion av Ukraina är exempel på händelser som kan ha stor påverkan på kort sikt. Alla dessa trender och händelser manifesteras olika på olika platser då alla lokala arbetsmarknader har olika förutsättningar som skapar såväl möjligheter som utmaningar. I det här avsnittet tas först konjunkturens roll upp och sedan vänds fokus mot megatrenderna och vilka utmaningar och möjligheter som de kan komma att medföra för gränskommunerna.

Embracing the just green transition on the Nordic labour market

The green transition aims to reduce CO2 emissions and align with UN Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement. It affects various sectors, labor markets, and society – and it is important to leave no one behind to ensure a just green transition. This reports shares best practice examples from around the Nordic countries to show how a just green transition can be tackled. Exchange of best practices and strong social dialogue can help achieve a sustainable Nordic region by 2030. This report provides background and insights for the “Green Transition on the Nordic Labor Market” dialogue, covering green transition impacts, just transition strategies, and Nordic best practices. The exchange of best practices among the Nordic countries and strengthening of social dialogue could be an enabler to achieving a just Nordic green transition based on economic growth, social justice and a steady path towards carbon neutrality. It could also be an important step towards achieving the Nordic vision of being the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030. This report sets out to provide some background and inspiration for the discussions during the “Green Transition on the Nordic Labour market: A Nordic Tripartite Dialogue”. It provides basic knowledge about the green transition and how it impacts the Nordic countries. It also discusses how a just green transition can be tackled and shares best practice examples from around the Nordic countries. In the first section, some basic knowledge about the green transition and how it impacts the Nordic countries will be provided. The second section will discuss how a just green transition can be tackled and best practice examples from around the Nordic countries will be shared. The report will end with some short final remarks.

Should I stay or should I go? Early career mobility and migration drivers

This working paper is a part of the project “Early Career Mobility in the Nordic Region”. The project explores current migration aspirations and associated factors of young people in the Nordic region. The study is conducted under the Nordic Thematic Group for Green, Innovative and Resilient Regions (2021 – 2024).  Learning more about current migration drivers and migration aspirations of the early career cohorts in the Nordic countries will help policymakers to shape the future of Nordic labour markets and better prepare the future labour supply and demands in rural areas. This working paper will present the main findings from previous studies on migration drivers and will serve as a baseline for the data collection on migration history and migration aspirations of young people in the Nordic countries.  The overall objective of Early Career Mobility in the Nordic Region is to develop a deeper knowledge of young people´s regional mobility and migration aspirations within the Nordic region. The research will address and assess the following key research questions:  The aim of the project is to understand recent and future developments in regional migration trends in the Nordic region, targeting the population cohorts aged 25 – 39 year olds, which we refer to as the household-creating ages. The project will put an emphasis on urban-to-rural migration, addressing cross-cutting themes such as gender and the Green Transition. The project will collect survey data on individuals in the household-creating ages in the Nordic region, exploring migration aspirations and factors associated with the wish to leave. Furthermore, there is a rising interest in understanding how digitalisation and remote work opportunities are influencing labour mobility and lifestyle decisions among the younger cohorts in the labour market, which this project also will shed light on. Documenting migration aspirations can offer insights into migration forecasts and migration…

Why do people migrate? Where do they choose to migrate?

Today, approximately 3.4 percent of the world’s population are international migrants – people living outside their country of birth. In the future, the number of people who move from one country to another may increase due to population growth in developing countries, increased mobility, political unrest in some world regions, and climate change. The question is how much may international migration flows increase and where will migrants go? The Horizon 2020 project Future migration scenarios for Europe (FUME) focuses on understanding the patterns, motivations, and modalities of migration at multiple geographical scales, from international through regional to the local, and on developing possible future scenarios of migration to Europe. These scenarios shall improve our understanding of the complexity and diversity of migration – and support migration, integration, labour market and cohesion policies at different governance levels. Understanding the drivers of migration, and people’s motivation to migrate is a precondition for making projections of future migration patterns. FUME researchers have interviewed potential migrants and migration experts in four countries of origin – Iraq, Tunisia, Senegal and Ukraine – and analysed demographic trends, livelihood opportunities, the demand for and supply of labour, as well as environmental threats to shed light on people’s motivation to leave or to remain in their places or regions of origin. In addition, migration experts from Europe were interviewed about their expectations regarding future migration to Europe. From the analyses, these factors are likely to influence people’s decision to migrate going forward. This policy brief answers key FUME research questions, summarizes important project findings, and presents policy recommendations. It is based on fieldwork carried out in selected countries of origin including in-depth individual and group interviews of migrants, a review of migration literature, an expert survey of migration researchers, and a Delphi survey of migration experts.

Local and regional experiences of remote work and multilocality

This report is the second outcome of the project Remote work: Effects on Nordic people, places and planning 2021-2024. Its primary aim is to provide a deeper understanding of how the spatial trends associated with increased remote work are affecting Nordic municipalities and regions. It explores the usefulness and reliability of available statistical data for understanding the effects of increased remote work at the regional and local level. Further, it draws directly on the experiences of regional and local stakeholders to understand the effects, challenges and opportunities, and planning responses associated with increased remote work.    Overall, this report supports the central finding of the first – that there is great potential for Nordic cooperation in developing strategies to address the challenges and make the most of the opportunities associated with increased remote work for Nordic regions and municipalities. For national policymakers, understanding the nature of the changes that have occurred since the pandemic, and the degree to which these changes relate to increased remote work, is a real challenge. At the local and regional level, the nature of the challenges and opportunities experienced appears to be fairly similar between the countries. Collaboration at both levels could be incredibly valuable in strengthening both national and local efforts to make the most of the opportunities increased remote work offers for Nordic people, places, and planning in the long term. The project Remote work: Effects on Nordic people, places and planning 2021-2024 was commissioned by stakeholders from the Nordic Co-operation Programme for Regional Development and Planning 2021-2024. This report received additional support from the Finnish Chairmanship of the Nordic Council of Ministers under the direction of the Nordic Ministers for Regional Development.

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…