Mobility in the Nordic region I – Cross-border commuting

2021 09 10


At the end of 2015 a total of 51,234 Nordic residents commuted to a job in another Nordic country than where they were residing. Some of these commuters crossed the national border every day, others more seldom. This finding is reported in the Nordic Mobility report, published by the Nordic Council of Ministers [1].

Commuting at the Nordic level is dominated by the flow of commuters from Sweden to Norway and Denmark, which accounted for 75 percent of all the commuting in the Nordic area in 2015. Both Denmark and Norway offers large labour markets a short distance from the Swedish border.

The exchange of labour between the Nordic countries is illustrated by the flowchart below. The pink flows show how the cross-border commuters are distributed by region of residence, most Nordic commuters live in Sweden. The blue flows show how the cross-border commuters are distributed by country of work, the countries receiving most commuters are Denmark and Norway.

More findings from the report

In 2015 almost 40,600 Nordic residents commuted from Sweden to another Nordic country. Of these almost 22,700 went to Norway, 15,800 to Denmark, 1,850 to Finland and almost 200 to Iceland. The number of commuters to Sweden was much smaller, only 4,000. Of these almost 50% lived in Denmark and about 25% in each of Finland and Norway.

Denmark has the second largest group of cross-border commuters, 5,700 residents, of whom 3,600 commuted to Norway and 1,750 to Sweden. Almost 200 Danish residents went to Finland and Iceland, respectively. Almost three times as many commute to Denmark, of which 95 percent from Sweden.

Roughly 2,400 residents cross-border commute from Finland: 1,300 to Sweden,1,000 to Norway and 100 to Denmark. Around 2,200 Nordic residents commute to Finland, mainly from Sweden (1,850 residents) but also from Denmark and Norway (just under 200 residents from each country). The flow between Finland and Iceland is small, only just over 10 residents in each direction.

Norway has a net gain in cross-border commuters. Almost 28,000 Nordic residents commuted to the country for work in 2015, while only 1,800 Norwegian residents commuted to another Nordic country. Of the 28,000 commuting to Norway almost 23,000 came from Sweden, around 3,600 from Denmark, 1,000 from Finland and 700 from Iceland. Over half of the commuters from Norway, 900 residents, commute to Sweden to work. 500 commute to Norway, just below 200 to Finland and 140 to Iceland.

For obvious reasons Iceland is the Nordic country with the least cross-border commuters. 850 residents commute from Iceland, mainly to Norway, while around 500 Nordic residents commute to Iceland. The commuters to the island are more evenly distributed between the other Nordic countries, roughly a third from each of Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

[1] For more information on the project and its findings, please see
For data, see under Labour market/Commuting.