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Forecast: Only 3 out of 10 urban areas will see population growth

MDI consultants predict that declining birth rates will contribute to only the capital city area, Tampere and Turku seeing population growth in the next two decades.  

Kävelykatu Rotuaari Oulun keskustassa.
The northwest city of Oulu may see its population fall in 20 years. Image: Esko Jämsä / AOP

In the next twenty years, only the capital city area, the southwest city of Turku, and the south-central hub of Tampere and its surroundings will see their populations grow, predicts MDI, a private consultancy firm specialising in regional development.

MDI forecasts that the population of the Helsinki metropolitan area will increase by a quarter of a million people in the next 20 years. At the same time, however, the population of the entire country is only predicted to increase by fewer than 100,000 people, which would mean that every other area of the country would see a drop in their resident numbers – except the Helsinki area and the cities of Turku and Tampere.

"The change will be most dramatic in the Oulu region, where birth rates have plummeted," says Timo Aro, an author of the MDI analysis.

The northwest city of Oulu has been growing steadily in recent years, and at more than 200,000 inhabitants, it is currently Finland's fifth largest city. The demographic is also quite young, leading to a good comparative birth rate. According to the MDI forecast, however, this growth will reach a turning point in the mid-2030 and start to decline.

More segregation and ghost towns

MDI's consultants predict that internal migration within the country will peak at this time. The group also forecasts a concurrent increase in geographical segregation, as well as more areas being drained and emptied of their inhabitants.

The MDI forecast (in Finnish) released on Friday concentrated on Finland's ten largest cities and their surrounding areas, using recent developments in mortality, birth rates, internal migration and immigration to predict the demographic trends of the near future.

According to the forecast, in the year 2040, 32.7 percent of Finland's population will live in the Helsinki area, compared to 6.4 percent in Turku, 7.8 percent in Tampere, 3.5 percent in Jyväskylä and 4.7 percent in Oulu.

This leaves 11.9 percent to be shared by the rest of the top ten cities: Lahti, Kuopio, Seinäjoki, Joensuu and Vaasa, and 32.9 percent of the population in the areas of Finland outside of these major cities.

The MDI analysis reached a more dismal conclusion than a similar 2015 forecast from the state-owned agency Statistics Finland. The consultancy firm says this is because the birth rate has since fallen at a more alarming rate that than the statistics agency could have predicted.

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