Population forecasts – The demographic future of the Nordic region

2021 11 18

News

Since 2010 the number of inhabitants in the Nordic region has increased by 2,000,000, from 25.5 million to 27.5 million [1]. The latest population forecasts from the region’s national statistical institutes indicate that the Nordic region will continue to grow over the next 20 years, but at a slower rate.

What the future holds in terms of demographical change is of utter most importance and a constant question for politicians, planners and economists.

In 2010 there were 25.5 million people living in the Nordic region. Almost 37 percent of these resided in Sweden, 22 percent in Denmark, 21 percent in Finland, 19 percent in Norway, just over one percent In Iceland and 0,1-0,2 percent in Greenland, Faroe Islands and Åland, respectively. By 2020 the population had grown to 27.5 million, an increase by almost eight percent. The distribution of inhabitants between the countries was largely unchanged compared with 2010 – Denmark and Finland had reduced their share slightly while Iceland, Norway and Sweden had increased theirs.

Population forecasts produced by national statistical institutes in the Nordic countries shows that, overall, it can be assumed that the Nordic region’s population will continue to grow over the next 20 years. However, the growth rate is expected to be lower than in the previous decade. Between 2022 and 2040 the population increase in the Nordic region as a whole is forecasted to just over six percent [2]. The diagram below shows the forecast development of the total population in each country, indexed by the year 2022 (the first forecast year) as a basis.

Källa: Nordic Statistical Database, table POPU06 Population projections

 

As seen from the figure most Nordic countries and self-governing regions are forecasted to continue growing until the year 2040, by between one percent (Finland) and 13 percent (Iceland). An exception is Greenland, whose population decreased by just under one percent between 2010 and 2020 and is expected to further decrease by another eight percent until 2040.

When divided into the age groups 0-19 years, 20-64 years and 65 years or older, it becomes clear that the Nordic countries have a common challenge ahead – an aging population.

The group aged 0-19 years is expected to increase in Denmark, Iceland and Åland, while a decrease is expected for the other countries and regions.

Källa: Nordic Statistical Database, table POPU06 Population projections

 

The group aged 20-64 years is expected to be stable, with only slight decreases or increases, with the exception of Greenland.

Källa: Nordic Statistical Database, table POPU06 Population projections

 

The group aged 65 years and older is expected to increase in all the Nordic countries and self-governing regions. The increase is forecasted to almost 30 percent on a Nordic level varying between 17 percent in Finland to 52 percent on Iceland.

Källa: Nordic Statistical Database, table POPU06 Population projections

 

Another way to analyse the composition of the population is through the dependency ratio. It is a demographic measure showing the relationship between the number of people who need to be supported and the number of people who can contribute to their livelihood (in terms of age only). It can be interpreted by how many extra persons a person of working age must support in addition to him- or herself. The ratio of support can be divided into two parts, the part supporting children and young people (0-19 years) and the part supporting the elderly (65 years and older).

At the Nordic level, the total dependency ratio is forecasted to 0.75 in 2022 and it is expected to increase to just over 0.80 in 2040. This means that in 2022 every Nordic person of working age will need to support him- or herself and 0.75 persons more in 2022 and 0.80 persons more in 2040. Greenland has the lowest total dependency ratio in 2022 being 0.57 while Faroe Islands has the highest total dependency ratio in 2022 with 0.84. In 2040 these ratios are expected to increase to 0.66 and 0.97, still the lowest and the highest ratio, respectively.

Divided into the part that comes from children and young people (0-19 years) and the one from the elderly (65+), it can be noted that all Nordic countries have a large expected increase in the dependency ratio of people aged 65 and over.

Källa: Nordic Statistical Database, table POPU06 Population projections

 

For more data on demography and population forecasts in the Nordic countries, please see the Nordic Statistical Database under the area Demography: https://www.nordicstatistics.org.

 

[1] Historical values refer to January 1st of the year, except for Finland, Åland and Sweden where they refer to December 31st of the previous year.
[2] Forecast values refer to January 1st of the year, except for Finland, Åland, Greenland and Sweden where they refer to December 31st of the previous year.