Finland has 317 municipalities, about a third of them designated as cities. New figures from the country’s official number-cruncher Statistics Finland show that the same areas tend to attract new residents, year after year.
According to an analysis by regional development specialist Timo Aro, who runs a private consulting firm, the regions that are most attractive in terms of internal migration are located throughout the country, though.
Aro analysed the latest migration figures in terms of 11 variables, including demographic forecasts, and the net migration of working-age residents, students, highly educated people and middle and high-income earners. He used these variables to pick out what he feels are Finland's most attractive municipalities at present.
Inter-municipal migration figures are a good indicator of the vitality of a certain region. Aro holds that population change and the working-age demographic are the key factors in determining an area’s future prospects.
“Areas that have decent transport options and institutions for higher learning do well,” Aro said.
The municipality judged by Aro to be most attractive was tiny Jomala on the Åland Islands, which has a population of just over 4,000. Second was Kauniainen, a small wealthy enclave within Espoo, just to the west of Helsinki.
Statistics Finland, for its part reports that last year the Uusimaa region, which includes Helsinki, had the largest total migration gain of close to 6,000. Second was the Pirkanmaa region, including Tampere, which gained some 1,300.
The region with the biggest population loss due to domestic migration was North Ostrobothnia, where more than 1,000 people moved away.
International migration down in 2015
In terms of international migration, the Statistics Finland figures from 2015 may be surprising. Despite the wave of asylum seeker entries to the country late in the year, international immigration figures for the year decreased by 3,580 from a year earlier.
Net immigration amounted to 12,441 persons, the smallest number in nine years.
This can likely be attributed to the fact that most of the applications for asylum that were submitted in late 2015 have still not been processed. The Immigration Service is still working through a backlog of 21,000 outstanding applications, at a pace of 500 decisions a week. It estimates that it will likely grant residence permits to a third of the applicants.
Meanwhile some 16,300 people moved abroad last year, close to 4,000 more than net immigration figures for the year.
EDIT: The article and the graph was changed at 1:30 pm to clear up inaccuracies. The source of the graph was attributed to Timo Aro and not Statistics Finland, as it is the result of his municipal analysis.