Handbook on demographic challenges in the Nordic countries

Demographic changes, in particular the ageing population, are well known and documented throughout Europe. Demographic changes have a wide impact on labour-market, welfare service provision, infrastructure, etc. Policymakers are struggling to find successful ways of facing these challenges.

There are huge variations in the demographic patterns within the Nordic countries. The sparsely populated areas are in general characterized by out-migration, low fertility rates and an ageing population. There are however places within these areas that deviate from the overall demographic pattern. Cities, especially those with a university, are instead characterized by in-migration (even though that mostly means in-migration from close by areas) and a relatively young population. At the same time there are smaller cities with strong out-migration in the more central parts of the Nordic countries. The large cities in the Nordic countries are also facing demographic challenges in terms of a growing population leading to increasing demand for housing, service, infrastructure etc. The project will focus on areas outside the larger cities and on areas with demographic challenges in relation to an ageing population.

The aim of this project is to develop a handbook containing strategies and best practices on how demographic challenges in the Nordic countries are being and can be handled. The focus will be on sparsely populated areas and on areas where the population is decreasing or stagnating. The handbook will contain strategies and best practices when it comes to private and public service, transportation and infrastructure, competence provision, business development and governance.

The handbook intents to be a useful tool for regional and local stakeholders and in order to assure the quality and relevance of the handbook a reference group gathering experts on national and regional conditions in each country will be formed.

During the spring 2012 four thematic workshops will be held in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. The aim of these workshops is to disseminate the handbook to the target group; to be an arena for exchange of experiences and to serve as a starting-point for a Nordic program providing opportunity for funding to enhance innovative solutions and strategies to handle demographic challenges.

The final edition of the demographic handbook, published in June 2012. The handbook has been discussed at four Nordic workshops gathering regional and local policymakers and revised according to comments at these workshops.