Reports 2020/27

Municipal population projections, 2020-2050

This publication is in Norwegian only.

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The 2020 regional population projections show a national population growth of 11 percent by 2050, but the growth is unevenly distributed across the Norwegian municipalities. Viken grows by more than 18 percent, while Nordland shrinks by 1.6 percent. 60 percent (216) of the municipalities is expected to grow. 20 percent of the municipalities have particularly high growth of 15 percent or more. 140 municipalities are expected to experience population decline.

A distinct trend is that the population of Norway is centralizing: in and around the big cities the population growth is particularly strong, as well as in the densely populated south-eastern part of Norway. In contrast, many of the declining municipalities are located in the rural areas. The municipalities with negative growth are typically situated inland, along the Swedish border, in the northern part of Trøndelag and in northern Norway.

A consequence of the centralization process is stronger aging in rural areas: Young adults move to central areas and have children there, while older persons remain in the countryside. Rural municipalities display relatively old populations today: less than 10 per cent of the population is 70 years and older in the most central municipalities in 2020, while for the least central municipalities the corresponding number is more than 17 percent. The aging of the population is happening all over Norway, but it is more marked in rural areas. According to the projections, a quarter of the population in most of the least central municipalities are 70 years and older in 2050. For some of these municipalities, as much as one third of the population is 70 years and older.

Norway's municipalities vary widely in population size. Oslo has 693,000 inhabitants, while Utsira has only 200. Compared to previous publication, we project the population in all municipalities directly. The approach increases transparency of the results, as we can publish numbers in Statbank tables on the demographic mechanisms that underly the population results. The tables include figures for each municipality on projected numbers of births, deaths and relocations, demographic rates, and aggregate demographic measures (total fertility rate, life expectancy at birth and dependency ratios).

The model uses the registered population in 2020 by sex, age and place of residence and imposes assumptions on future fertility, mortality, domestic migration and net immigration. The assumptions are constructed based on regional differences in demographic behavior over the last ten years and projected national trends. The assumptions are uncertain, and so are the projection results. The uncertainty grows over time. We know a lot about the municipalities in the short term because the population develops systematically - most of us will be one year older next year and live in the same place. In the longer term, however, we must rely more heavily on the demographic assumptions to project the population. Nonetheless, discrepancies can also occur in the short term; for example, it is still uncertain what the demographic consequences of Covid-19 and concomitant restrictions will be.

Like all models, the population projection model is a simplification of reality. Thus, we recommend users to take the results as a starting point. Actively consider whether the assumptions are reasonable and, if necessary, adjust the figures based on own knowledge of local conditions. The new tables in the StatBank provide information that may be helpful in such assessments.

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