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Northern peripheral, sparsely populated regions in the European Union

Nordregio Report 2005:4

The purpose of the study is to make an assessment on the socio-economic impacts of low population density, peripherality and cold climate in the Northern regions of Sweden and in Northern and Eastern regions of Finland.

The study has focused on demographic sparsity as a core element for understanding of the specific needs of these regions. Sparsity has indeed been defined as characterising regions where extremely low population densities and disperse settlement patterns create specific challenges for economic activity and public service provision. A central question is the scale at which one should approach demographic sparsity in order to give the most accurate account of economic challenges connected to low population densities.

A second main characteristic of these regions is peripherality, as reflected by the distance to the main European markets. This induces additional transport costs both for individuals and industries, and makes it difficult to access good and services produced in European core areas. Cold climate constitutes an additional challenge for these Northern Nordic regions, which can easily be observed at the scale of individual persons or companies. While it is generally not meaningful to seek to quantify the general macroeconomic impact of this factor, some narrower economic approaches of cold climate have been developed.