Issues such as the employment rate, the age structure of the population and the potential of the capital region should be greater concerns for Finland than the rest of the Nordics, suggests the State of the Nordic Region 2018, a report published by the Council of Nordic Ministers.
Finland, on the other hand, continues to excel in the areas of education and innovation, highlights Helsingin Sanomat.
Anne Berner (Centre), the Minister of Transport and Communications commented on the conclusions drawn in the report to the newspaper at the report’s launch event in Stockholm, Sweden, on 9 February.
“My initial thought after seeing the report is that Finland doesn’t do well in regrettably many areas,” she said to Helsingin Sanomat.
Berner estimated that the results are, at least partly, attributable to the structural challenges, low employment-based immigration and difficult economic situation faced by the country during the period of statistical analysis.
The State of the Nordic Region 2018 was produced by Nordregio, an international research centre for regional development and planning established by the Council of Nordic Ministers.
The Nordics, it highlights, make up the 12th largest economy in the world and rank regularly close to the top of various country comparisons.
The countries are expected to have a combined population of almost 30 million inhabitants by 2030, an increase of over 10 percent from the current 26 million inhabitants. The population growth is driven largely by international migration and concentrates increasingly in urban areas.
Norway and Sweden reported population growth of around ten per cent in urban areas between 2011 and 2016, while Denmark, Finland and Iceland registered roughly 50 per cent lower growth rates.
Nordregio points out that immigration accounted for a large part of the population growth: Over a quarter (26%) of all municipalities in the region witnessed population growth solely as a result of international migration.
The population is not only growing but also ageing, it adds.
“By 2030, large parts of northern and eastern Finland, for example, are expected to have populations where more than 50 per cent of people over 15 [years old] are aged 65 or more,” the research centre says.
Finland has also failed to keep step with its regional peers in terms of the employment rate. Almost all of its municipalities have yet to reach an employment rate of 75 per cent, a level that has been reached by almost every municipality in the rest of the Nordics.
“We’ve had problems matching jobs and job seekers,” conceded Berner.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Sari Gustafsson – Lehtikuva