Finland 2040: Rural population loss, but only 3 areas gain

While rural areas will struggle with the population loss, urban areas will have to work fast to cope with population gains.

File picture, aerial panorama of Helsinki / Credit: iStock

What will Finland look like in 2040?

A new study from the Consultancy for Regional Development MDI predicts there will be a continued decline of the country’s rural population, as Finland’s residents keep moving to the cities – but only three city areas will gain from this.

MDI found that only Helsinki and the capital city region, Tampere and Turku will see an increase in their populations, at the expense of other smaller urban areas and rural communities.

By 2040 the capital region’s population is forecast to grow by as many as 270,000 new residents.

What are the impacts for rural areas?

According to the survey, Finland’s overall population will rise only by 90,000 citizens in the next 20 years, which means big changes for most regions.

Professor of Demography at Helsinki University’s Department of Sociology Pekka Martikainen says Finns have been having fewer children in recent years, and the declining birth rate means population growth slows even more.

Martikainen also notes that as young people move away from smaller towns and rural areas, to go to cities for work or study, the rural population ages faster than the country’s population on average.

“When young people disappears, so do the businesses and industries. And so do the taxpayers, which makes it difficult to provide services. Similarly, it all downgrades the labor supply” Professor Martikainen tells News Now Finland.

“Although population growth would end, the region may still remain vibrant. There may still be a lot of work and investment in the area” says Martikainen.

Capital prepares for significant growth

As the rest of the country is likely to struggle with this significant population drop over the next few decades, the capital region will also have keep up investment in housing and other vital infrastructure to cope with an increasing population.

In 2018 Helsinki’s new city plan was put into operation which envisages up to 240,000 new citizens in the city by 2050.

City planners have a vision to connect multiple population centres with rail transit, turn suburbs into more lively multi-purpose hubs with transport and businesses, and add wider boulevard-style areas with greenery and housing at key entry points to the city alongside existing roads to facilitate commutes to the city centre.

However, this plan to create boulevards has already faced problems getting the relevant permits from planning authorities.