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How to Make a Living in Insular Areas - Six Nordic Cases

Nordregio Report 2006:1

This study focuses on the following six insular areas in the Nordic countries:

  • Bornholm in Denmark
  • The Eyjafjörður region in Iceland
  • Gotland in Sweden
  • The Kainuu region in Finland
  • The Ulstein region in Norway
  • Åland


Insular areas do not have to be islands surrounded by water; they can be insular due to the sheer distances involved, or due to difficult terrain. The concept insular means that it is not realistic to commute on a daily basis to a neighbouring labour market and therefore the areas are insulated in terms of opportunities for the population to make a living there. Because these labour markets are insular, they cannot fully operate as markets. There are often other types of processes matching the labour supply and demand. It is moreover, also often necessary to take special steps to recruit key professionals to these areas, e.g. within the medical profession. Over a year, and a working life, individuals who live in these insular areas are likely to move between the labour market, i.e. having a job or being self-employed, and other parts of the income system. These other parts of the system may be education and training, unemployment or parts of the social insurance system.