MDI’s Population projection 2022 – a detailed picture of future development and a new scenario for an internationalising Finland

According to the Population projection 2022 published today, Finland’s population will decrease, age, centralise and internationalise. Phenomena and events, as well as the actions of regions and municipalities, greatly influence future population development.

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The basic path of population development up to 2040, based on developments during the period 2015–2021, is calculated in MDI’s population projection. In addition, three alternative scenarios have also been described: an urbanising, decentralising and the new scenario, an internationalising Finland, in which the country’s demographic development is assessed in terms of whether the immigration gain from abroad reaches the level of Sweden, by 2040.

The results of the new population projection should be interpreted from two perspectives in particular: what actions will be taken to address the likely challenges to be faced and what will support the direction of positive development?

The projection assumes that urbanisation continues, the importance of the traditional growth triangle becomes even stronger and regional differences grow. Migration during covid-19 has however mitigated the migration loss of many municipalities and regions. The working-age population will decrease in most municipalities over the period 2021–2040. Work-based immigration is needed to increase the number of the working-age population, both from the point of view of the country’s municipalities and welfare regions.

The employed labour force also threatens to decrease sharply, unless the employment rate increases significantly. In some municipalities, even an increase in the employment rate is not enough to solve the challenge of a shrinking workforce. In half of the municipalities in Finland, the employment rate should rise to more than 90 percent, and in about 50 municipalities the employment rate should be more than 100 percent in 2040, in order to have the same number of employed people in the municipality in 2040 as in 2019.

Finland needs more working-age population

Only immigration can significantly strengthen the development of Finland’s working-age population over the period 2021–2040. In the scenario focusing on an internationalising Finland it is assumed that, by 2040, the gain from migration from abroad will grow to the same level, on average, as that during the 2010s in Sweden. In this scenario, the development of the working-age population would strengthen by approximately 170,000 people and the development of the employed population by approximately 120,000 people. This would correspond to an increase in the employment rate by 3.6 percentage points.

At the national level, the population will start to decrease in the 2030s without increasing immigration. Immigration increases the population in the largest cities. However, the strength of the Helsinki metropolitan area’s growth depends very much on whether internal migration returns to pre-pandemic levels or not.

Outside the large urban areas, the population shrinks with varying intensity. Especially in rural municipalities and regional towns, the population threatens to decrease sharply, despite the levelling off of migration during the pandemic.

The differences between welfare regions will grow in the future

The population will age in every welfare region during the years 2021–2040. Especially in the 2030s, the strong growth in the age groups over 85 is strongly reflected in the increase in the need for services in all welfare regions. The challenge of responding to the need for services in most welfare regions is the development of the working-age population. In most welfare regions, the number of the working-age population is decreasing. In practice, some welfare regions have to either adapt to a shrinking workforce or attract significantly more immigrants from the rest of the country or from abroad than at present.

In the 2010s and during the projection period, only immigration increases the working-age population. At the level of the entire country, the working-age and employed population during the period 2021–2040 will shrink moderately. The working-age population will, moreover, decrease in most municipalities during the period 2021–2040. The employed labour force also threatens to decrease sharply, unless the employment rate increases significantly. In some municipalities, even an increase in the employment rate is not enough to solve the challenge of a shrinking workforce. In half of the municipalities in Finland, the employment rate should rise to more than 90 percent, and in about 50 municipalities the employment rate should be more than 100 percent by 2040, in order to have the same number of employed people in the municipality in 2040 as in 2019.

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