Press release: Finland will become more urbanised, regionalised and internationalised in the 2020s and 2030s

MDI’s new population forecast up to 2040 shows that Finland’s internal population development will continue to diverge during the 2020s and 2030s. The forecast confirms the growth trend in respect of Finland’s larger cities and thus the continuing process of urbanisation. This ‘third wave’ of regionalisation does however display some new features, primarily, the expansion and growth of the peri-urban areas surrounding Finland’s larger cities and the growing importance of the foreign-speaking population in the future demographic development of the country as a whole.

MDI’s population forecast includes the baseline demographic trajectory up to 2040 based on 2015–2020 developments. In addition to this, two alternative development paths have been created: an urbanisation scenario that does not take into account the behavioural changes brought about by Covid-19 in 2020 and a decentralisation scenario calculated entirely on the basis of the Covid-19 year developments. In all three scenarios, population growth will only occur in Uusimaa, Pirkanmaa, Southwest Finland and Åland while, at the municipal level, only in about every sixth municipality over the period 2020–2040. In the new population forecast, urbanisation will continue, but a larger share of that growth will primarily occur in the peri-urban areas surrounding the largest cities and in geographical areas encompassing tourism-focused economies with extensive summer or second home facilities.

According to the forecast’s baseline trajectory, growth will be concentrated in the Helsinki metropolitan area, the large university cities, the nearby peri-urban areas surrounding the larger cities and to certain other parts of the rest of the country. Population growth across the country as a whole is based entirely on the growth of the foreign-speaking population during the period 2020–2040. The number of native speakers will decrease by about 450,000 while the number of foreign speakers will increase by about 490,000 by 2040. The number of native speakers will decrease in all scenarios and in all regions except Pirkanmaa which, in the decentralisation scenario, attracts a small net increase in the number of native speakers. The number of native speakers will increase in only 21 municipalities up to 2040.

– For the first time, the forecast takes into account the impact of different language groups on population development. The direction of future demographic development is determined especially by foreign speakers, something which must be taken into account more fully in the future development of all regions and municipalities. If a region wants to grow in the coming decades, it must be attractive to the foreign-speaking population, says Rasmus Aro, the expert who prepared the population forecast.

In previous population projections, growth was strongly focused only on large growth centres; now the image has become a little more balanced. According to the forecast, the ‘winning areas’ in terms of future demographic development are, in addition to the Helsinki metropolitan area, the larger cities and in particular their surrounding areas and large leisure and tourism centres across Finland. In the short term, the Covid-19 period has already seen a significant adjustment in terms of this re-balancing relating to the demographic developments associated with these cottage and tourist-focused municipalities.

–The year 2020 changed the dynamics of population development, as the number of municipalities with migration gains doubled while, in addition, these migration gains were more evenly distributed across the country. Although in many municipalities the changes are, in themselves, quite small, for many smaller municipalities even small gains are, in relative terms, quite significant, says Development Director Janne Antikainen.

According to the baseline scenario, by 2040, the number of children under the age of 15 will decrease by 124,000 and the number of working-age people, aged 15-64, by 91,000, while the number of people over the age of 65 would increase by 250,000. The numbers for children and people of working age are significantly reduced in all three scenarios.

– The new population forecast underlines the massive demographic pressure for change impacting all regions, regardless of location or size in the period up to 2040. In addition to these demographic and age-related changes, regions must also be able to simultaneously manage the practical challenges of regional segregation and differentiation and the likely changes in respect of language groups in municipalities of all sizes, notes leading expert Timo Aro.

MDI’s new population forecast is regional and includes data for all municipalities and provinces by gender, age and language group up to 2040. The independent regional development consultancy MDI has prepared the forecast as part of its own work. Statistics Finland data have been used as the primary source in all calculations.

More information

Rasmus Aro, specialist
040 187 1027

Janne Antikainen, development director
040 764 1829

Timo Aro, leading specialist
045 657 7890