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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. Register for 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 all taken…

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. 

Geographies of discontent in the Nordic Region

This working paper explores the factors driving political discontent and changes in the electoral behaviour across the Nordic Region. It serves as a conceptual overview of the topic by taking stock of the combination of factors that are driving discontent and geographies of discontent in the Western liberal democracies and in the Nordic Region specifically. The 2010s have seen a rise of the age of discontent, including political and anti-government protests, as well as changes in the electoral behaviour. While voter turnout has continued to decline throughout the recent years in the West, there has also been a rise in votes cast for non-traditional and in some cases new parties. This has often been referred to as the most distinct expression of political discontent. The root causes and drivers of the anti-government sentiment are complex. The driving forces include the economic and structural changes that have increased the vulnerability of individuals and territories. The resulting inequalities and socio-cultural divides between people and places give rise to discontent and dissatisfaction, particularly within places that feel left behind. While the key factors driving geographies of discontent elsewhere in the West can also be found in the Nordic Region, further analysis is required to ascertain whether discontent in the region is primarily driven by territorial or interpersonal inequality. The paper is a part of the project “Ensuring inclusive economic growth in the transition to a green economy (EnIGG)”. The project analyses how the Nordic countries can accelerate the green transition towards a climate-neutral economy. The paper is part of a working package that looks into the distributive effects of climate policies and analyses how gaps between richer and poorer population groups and regions have developed since the last economic crisis.

Economic Policy beyond the Pandemic in the Nordic countries

This comprehensive report delves into the economic policy responses of the Nordic countries amidst the tumultuous period marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the subsequent recovery phase, the energy crisis, and inflation spanning from 2020 to 2023. It provides a critical examination of the macroeconomic strategies employed during these challenging times, highlighting the lessons learned and the effectiveness of different policies. The report raises pivotal questions regarding the outcomes of these policies, their impact on the Nordic economies, and the lessons that these countries can glean from each other’s experiences. Key Findings and Highlights: Overall the report underscores the importance of policy adaptability, advocating for economic policies that can swiftly respond to unforeseen crises without compromising long-term fiscal sustainability. It calls for targeted support measures that aid vulnerable households and firms during economic downturns without impeding structural adjustments. Furthermore, it emphasizes the necessity for adequate resources towards active labour market policies, including vocational training and subsidized employment. Facing intricate trade-offs between maintaining robust economic policy frameworks and adapting to new challenges, the Nordic countries stand at a crossroads. The report advocates for a vibrant exchange of policy insights and impacts, stressing the need for adaptable, targeted, and well-resourced economic policies. This report is essential reading for policymakers, economists, and anyone interested in the complexities of economic policy-making in the face of multiple crises. It offers a thorough analysis of the Nordic experience, providing valuable lessons for both the region and beyond.

From Vision to Practice – Insights from Nordic-Baltic 5G applications across sectors

This report builds on the findings of the Nordic-Baltic 5G Monitoring Tool (N-B 5G MT) project ‘Analytical Report’, which focused on mapping 5G activities in the Nordic-Baltic region and analysing their roll-out status. In this follow-up report, we delve deeper into actual 5G applications across different verticals (i.e. sectors), including healthcare, transportation/mobility, industry and media/broadcasting. The Nordic-Baltic region faces knowledge gaps in understanding 5G’s full economic impact, despite its role as both a service and an enabler. While there’s notable activity in sectors like transport, smart cities, and health, most 5G projects are still in the early stages, and the business case for widespread 5G deployment is not yet clear. This report examines how various sectors address these challenges and what can be learned from their experiences in advancing 5G development.  The report identifies challenges in each sector, such as funding constraints in healthcare, technical hurdles in transportation, market immaturity in industry, and infrastructure investment needs in media, highlighting the complex landscape of 5G deployment. The project’s key findings point to a number of cross-cutting challenges that require comprehensive attention and solutions: Overall, the report emphasises the need for a systemic approach to addressing these challenges. This includes clarifying the business value of 5G; fostering ecosystems for collaboration; and ensuring that policy and regulatory frameworks support the innovative, equitable deployment of 5G technology. Overcoming these hurdles will require concerted efforts from all stakeholders, including governments, industry and the wider community. Only then will the transformative potential of 5G for society be fully realised.

Policy tools for sustainable and healthy eating – Enabling a food transition in the Nordic countries

This report addresses the gap between current Nordic diets and the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2023, emphasising the urgency for policy interventions to drive substantial behavioural shifts towards healthier and more sustainable diets. It introduces a Nordic behaviour change framework that describes determinants influencing the individual’s dietary behaviour and the enabling role of policy instruments in incentivising behavioural changes. The report advocates for a multifaceted policy approach, including taxes, subsidies, public procurement, information campaigns, educational initiatives, nudging instruments and labeling to encourage a shift in dietary behaviour. These efforts are consolidated into five key recommendations. This report delves into the gap between prevailing Nordic diets and the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR) 2023, emphasizing the necessity of implementing policy instruments designed to guide the food environment towards fostering significant behavioural change. It highlights the responsibility of governmental agencies in steering the food environment to achieve substantial behavioural shifts necessary for embracing healthier and more sustainable dietary patterns. Scholarly emphasis on behavioural shifts informs the report’s comprehensive analysis of determinants influencing a transition towards healthier eating habits. It introduces a Nordic behaviour change framework that prioritizes enhancing the availability, affordability, accessibility, and attractiveness of healthy food options, concurrently diminishing these aspects for unhealthy choices. This framework identifies determinants across food-related, personal, and socio-environmental spheres, shedding light on the critical influence of early food experiences, demographic factors, education, financial stability, cultural norms, and social determinants on dietary behaviours. Targeted interventions aimed at augmenting capability, opportunity, and motivation at various societal levels are identified as crucial for catalysing meaningful dietary transformation. The report underscores the criticality of policy instruments that address economic variables, provide information, and leverage nudging strategies to incentivise healthier dietary selections. It advocates for a multifaceted policy approach encompassing taxes, subsidies, directives for public procurement, public awareness campaigns, educational initiatives, and labelling…

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.

Ten-year Regional Outlook: Future Perspectives for Electric Aviation in the Nordic Region

Electric aviation has gained momentum in the Nordic Region in recent years. Given its unique geographical features and strong commitment to climate-neutral transport, the Nordic Region represents an ideal testing ground for electric aviation. In five to ten years from now, electric aviation has the potential to become reality, so it is crucial to explore which factors may affect its implementation and how regional development may be impacted. Report from the “Electric Aviation and the Effects on the Nordic Region” project presents a ten-year future scenario for electric aviation in the Nordic Region. In this report, we explore future scenarios for five selected Nordic routes and identify the key driving forces behind that transformative shift, as well as the positive and negative impacts of electric aviation. The scenarios were developed through focus group discussions conducted with key stakeholders from each of the five Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden). The main findings of the study show that electric aviation is generally perceived positively in the various Nordic countries. However, there are also certain contextual differences relating to whether electric aviation is viewed as a pathway to achieving climate targets and removing emissions, stimulating regional development and accessibility of remote areas, or as a new travel option compared to conventional flights. Even though the general attitude towards electric aviation seems to be positive, scepticism and questions regarding the social acceptance of the new technology emerged, as well as the uncertainty around who will be the investors to kick-off the new technology. Furthermore, the future scenarios suggest that a high level of support from local and national governing bodies is required in order to make electric aviation a viable air transport mode in the Nordic region. The insights of this report are intended both to inform decision-makers and to provide…

Who drives green innovation in the Nordic Region? A change agency and systems perspective

In addressing the critical challenge of systemic sustainability, this report explores the need for more than a one-size-fits-all approach in the Nordic Region. It investigates the role of change agency processes and the impact of policies and framework conditions on green transition changes in business sectors. Our two case studies reveal some of the bottlenecks and drivers of innovation and explore them from a systemic perspective and in different geographic scales, both from a place-based and place-less perspective. The methodology adopted in the report is comprehensive, including a deep dive into the evolution of innovation theory and policy, following by an in-depth analysis of green innovation in two sectoral developments, including multi-storey wood construction and the so-called ‘protein shift’. It examines the roles of different stakeholders, including governments, businesses, and communities, in fostering an environment conducive to systemic change. The report relies on the academic and policy evolution of innovation theory and practice, identifying, what is argued to be, an emerging generation of innovation policies focused not only on economic but also on societal and environmental goals, which has generated a heated debate. To add nuance to this debate, our report utilised sector-based case studies relying on expert interviews to shed light on the roles of different agents in producing, not only technological but systems innovation. Against the background of systems innovations theory, this study provides some insights into the relevance of place, and proximity – not just geographic, but cognitive, institutional, organisational and social proximity.   Key findings reveal that systemic green innovations in the Nordic region happen as a result of the sum of multiple actors intentionally and unintentionally driving change in place-based and place-less settings. Several obstacles hinder setting a clear direction to innovation and path creation as these barriers are deeply entrenched in governance complexities, social…

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.