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How will Sweden’s population change over the next 20 years?

How will Sweden’s population change over the next 20 years?
A newborn baby in its mother's arms. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
Sweden’s population is expected to decrease in more than a third of Sweden’s regions by 2040, according to a new report by Statistics Sweden.

The report outlines the demographic changes that are expected in Sweden’s regions in the years 2021-2040.

While the overall population is expected to increase from 10.4 million to 11.3 million, around a nine percent increase, that growth will be concentrated mainly in the south of the country. In eight of Sweden’s regions, the population is actually expected to fall over the next two decades.

The regions Västernorrland and Norrbotten, both in northern Sweden, are expected to see the biggest population decreases, of more than five percent. The other six regions where population is forecast to fall are: Kalmar, Blekinge, Värmland, Dalarna, Gävleborg and Jämtland.

The population is expected to increase the most in the Stockholm region and neighbouring Uppsala, where it is forecast to grow by around 16 percent, according to Alexandra Malm, a demographer at Statistics Sweden. In Stockholm this is due to a higher birth rate than death rate, according to forecasts.

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But on the national level, the population growth between 2011-2020 is mainly attributed to the higher number of immigrants than emigrants. While the difference is expected to decrease in the next 20 years, immigration remains a key factor in maintaining and growing the Swedish population. 

The report by Statistics Sweden also anticipates an older population in 2040 than we see today, mainly due to a lower death rate but also the large baby boom in the 1940s. 

The projected demographic changes raise questions for the rural areas, which since the 1970s have struggled to maintain services due to the increasing concentration of the population in cities.

A recent article by real estate publication Hem & Hyra rated each municipality in Sweden according to their accessibility to essential services including grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, schools and post offices. Out of the five counties with the worst service access in Sweden, four were in Norrbotten region. 

In Västernorrland this problem is attributed to the lack of a big city.

"It's a process that has been going on since the agricultural society was mechanised. Now, there is a smaller demand for jobs in small towns" Lars Westin, professor of regional economics at Umeå University told SVT.

The region sees both challenges as well as opportunities in the Statistics Sweden projection. 

"In the short term we see great challenges from a financial perspective, the population is the base for our tax revenue which enables community building with welfare services," Märta Molin, Regional Director of Development for Västernorrland region, told The Local. 

To combat these issues, Molin sees an opportunity to expand infrastructure to better accommodate work commuters, freight transport and the hospitality industry. She added that an ageing population would put extra pressure on the care sector, which will need to be counteracted through a focus on preventative healthcare.  


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