There is a high level of awareness among policy-makers and the public that the Nordic countries, and especially their peripheral regions, face demographic challenges. Although the challenges are similar in all the Nordic countries, their national policy responses differ.
The Nordic Working Group on Demography and Welfare just released a comparative study that maps and compares the national policy approaches to demographic change. It shows that none of the Nordic countries has established separate policies or programmes to address demographic change in an integrated manner, but the consequences of demographic change are addressed in various policy areas. Comparative research shows that the Nordic countries seem to approach the population concentration in urban areas in two ways
- adapting the governance system to the declining population in peripheral areas, in particular through municipal mergers, and
- mitigation, by means of various attractiveness measures, to preserve or increase the population base in such areas.
When it comes to meeting the decline in the share of the working age population, the overall impression is that the Nordic countries focus on mitigation efforts. The aim here is to mobilize as much of the potential labour force as possible, primarily through pension reforms or by promoting the inclusion of vulnerable groups such as youth and immigrants in the labour market. The study provides Nordic policy-makers with inspiration and possibilities for mutual learning concerning shared challenges.