Rapporter 2018/22

Norway’s 2018 population projections

Main results, methods and assumptions

Lower population growth, pronounced aging in rural areas and a growing number of immigrants characterize the main results from the 2018 population projections. According to the main alternative, the population of Norway will increase throughout the century, and surpass 6 million inhabitants around the year 2040. The population growth will be most pronounced in central areas, while many rural municipalities will experience a population decline. The growth in the number of elderly, both in absolute and relative terms, will be substantial: in about 15 years there will be more elderly than children and young people in Norway for the first time ever.

In our main alternative (low and high in parentheses), we assume that the total fertility rate will continue to decline for a few more years, reaching 1.6 in 2020 before stabilizing at around 1.8 in 2060. Life expectancy will continue to increase from today’s 81 years for men and 84 years for women, reaching about 88 (86-90) and 90 (88-92) years respectively in 2060. The increase is largely a result of an increase in remaining life expectancy in older age groups. Internal migration is expected to follow the trends we have observed over the last decade. Consequently, centralization is expected to continue, especially among young adults. Immigration will continue, albeit at a slower pace. In 2017, the number of immigrations to Norway was 56 400, and this is expected to fall to 49 000 (36 400-91 200) by 2060. The projected number of emigrations partly depends on the number of immigrations, and net migration is expected to decline slightly in the main alternative, from the current 21 000 to around 17 000 in 2060.

This report also documents how Statistics Norway produces the population projections, using two models: BEFINN and BEFREG. In BEFINN, the population is projected by age and sex at the national level up to and including the year 2100. Immigrants from three country groups, Norwegian-born children with immigrant parents and the rest of the population are projected as separate groups. In BEFREG, the population is projected by age and sex in 108 regions up to and including the year 2040. The population is thereafter summed up to counties and distributed to municipalities.

We use the cohort-component method, with two types of input:

  • Updated figures for the population by sex and one-year age groups
  • Assumptions about future development of the demographic components fertility, life expectancy, internal migration, immigration and emigration

The results of a population projection largely depend on the assumptions used about the components. We thus produce and publish different alternatives, for various future developments in fertility, life expectancy, internal migration and immigration:

•M: Medium or main alternative

•H: High alternative

•L: Low alternative

•K: Constant alternative

•0: Zero alternative


Altogether, Statistics Norway projects the population in 15 combinations of these M, L, H, K and 0 alternatives. Each alternative is described using four letters in the following order: fertility, life expectancy, internal migration and immigration. The term ‘main alternative' is used to refer to the MMMM alternative, which indicates that the medium level has been used for all components.

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