Population Change Dynamics in Nordic Municipalities – Grid data as a tool for studying residential change at local level

The Nordic Region is currently undergoing a num­ber of major demographic trends. The population is growing in all five Nordic countries, largely due to immigration, while also becoming increasingly concentrated in urban settlements. At the same, development in the Nordic Region is unbalanced: different regions and municipalities are experiencing noticeably different lines of development.

In this report, grid-based statistics from different Nordic countries are used in an integrated way to study demographic changes at local level within regions, municipalities and cities; especially cities or towns that could be considered small and medium-sized. One of the main methodological questions guiding the study is how fine-grained grid-level statistics can be used as a compliment to more general statistics bound to administrative areas such as municipalities and regions.

This report seeks to form a more nuanced understanding of the population developments occurring in the Nordics that may be less apparent, or not evident at all, at more general territorial levels. The intention of the study is to shed light on the following questions: What types of population dynamics occurred in the Nordic countries at the municipal and grid levels during 2008–2017? To what degree do changes at the local level correspond to more general population development at the municipal level? What types of changes can be seen within municipalities, especially in small and medium-sized cities?

The findings show that the Nordic Region is undergoing highly unbalanced population development, and there are notable differences in demographic trends both between and within countries.

Also, the findings demonstrate that population data at the grid level are well-suited for identifying demographic change processes and trends occurring within regions and municipalities. While this study concentrates on changes in population size over time, it is evident that gridded statistics offer further potential for uncovering trends that are concealed at more general levels of analysis. To fully realise the potential of grid level data at the Nordic level, further harmonisation of data processing and availability is required.

The population change map on page 19 can be found separately through this link: http://norden.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2%3A1280442&dswid=8902

Edition 2 has been published: Correction to Table 9 has been made. In Edition 1, Shrinking (n) and Growing (n) headlines under Grid Cell Behavior were misplaced on wrong columns.

Research Fellow Mats Stjernberg discusses about the unbalanced demographic development that has been going on in the Nordic region: