Norway: Oslo outpaces other Nordic capital regions

Oslo tops this year’s Regional Potential Index as the most competitive region in the Nordics, far ahead of the other Nordic capital regions. On the downside, CO2 emissions are increasing for Norway as a whole and fertility is at an all-time low, to mention a few other statistics from the fact-filled State of the Nordic Region 2020 report.

Oslo beats Stockholm and Copenhagen

A Regional Potential Index is published as part of the State of the Nordic Region report, measuring how dynamic a region is. The index compares all Nordic regions on a range of demographic, economic and labour force indicators. This year, Oslo performs best of all within the areas of demography and economy and takes top spot on the index with 717 out of the possible 900 points, followed by the Capital Region of Denmark at 650 and Stockholm at 625.

The main reasons for Oslo’s success is that it has the highest GRP per capita of all Nordic regions and performs strongly on indicators such as R&D investment, tertiary education and the share of the population living in urban areas. Oslo also has the lowest demographic dependency ratio in the Nordic Region, which is the ratio of children and elderly against the working-age population.

While most Norwegian regions are placed in the top half of the index, a number of them rank lower now than they did in the 2018 edition. This is mainly due to weaker regional GDP and R&D investment. Møre and Romsdal dropped the furthest between rankings, nine spots, mainly as a result of a decrease in production in the aquaculture, transport and logistics sector.

Norway and Iceland have increased their emissions

The report highlights that Norway and Iceland have increased their GHG emissions since 1990. In the same period, Denmark, Finland and Sweden have reduced theirs, with the pace of reductions increasing since 2007. The data from Norway and Iceland shows the significant impact that transport and energy-intensive industries, such as the Norwegian oil and gas industry, continue to have on total GHG emissions.

Overall industrial related emissions are decreasing across the Nordic Region. This is however not the case in Norwegian regions with intensive offshore oil and gas activity. These regions are among those with the highest per capita emissions in 2017 and also saw the largest increase between 2013 and 2017. The report highlights the need for rapid innovation efforts to enable Norway to reach its ambition of becoming a low-emission society, reducing emissions by 80-95% by 2050.

Lowest fertility rates ever recorded

While the Nordic population as a whole is increasing, fertility rates are declining across the region. The current fertility rate in Norway is 1.56 children per woman – the lowest ever recorded, which is also the case in Iceland and Finland.

As in the other Nordic countries, the population of Norway is ageing, with people living longer and a decreasing fertility rate. Currently, there is approximately the same number of children and young people under 18 as people aged 65 or older, but this is expected to change within the next decade or so. Here, Norway follows in the footsteps of Denmark, Sweden and Finland, where the proportion of old people is already larger than that of children and young people.

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