Finland would be doing itself a disservice by implementing the regional government reform, as the new system would be outdated already at the time of implementation, Timo Aro, an expert in regional development, suggests in a publication by Toivo Think Tank.
The regional government reform is to be implemented as part of the social and health care reform in 2020, creating a total of 18 counties that will be made responsible for certain public services.
“The current county division is not operationally, demographically or economically sustainable in light of the proposed regional structure. It is somewhat paradoxical that the new system of regional government will be outdated at the time of its implementation,” states Aro.
He calls attention to recent and projected changes in regional and demographic structures.
“Statistics from the 2010s are brutal: only five of the 19 counties (including Åland), 14 of the 70 sub-regions and 72 of the 311 municipalities have recorded net internal migration gains. Only a quarter of municipalities and sub-regions have recorded migration gains, while two-thirds have recorded migration losses,” he highlights.
Aro reminds that migration flows tend to strengthen vital regions and exacerbate the situation in regions affected by migration losses. The Finnish population, meanwhile, is continuing to age at a rapid pace.
“The greatest demographic challenge of the future will be associated with the decrease of the working-age population and skewed age profile: the working-age population will decrease by roughly 100,000, while the number of elderly people will increase by roughly 400,000 by 2030,” he tells.
“An examination of the age structure shows that the greatest change will be the almost three-fold increase in the over 75-year-old population between 2015 and 2030.”
Toivo Think Tank is based in Helsinki and affiliated with the National Coalition Party. Jan Vapaavuori (NCP), the Mayor of Helsinki, has been one of the most vocal critics of the mooted regional government reform.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi