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Population projections for Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland, 2015–2065


Abstract and Figures

The ethnic and religious compositions of Nordic populations have been projected by Eurostat (Lanzieri, 2011), the Pew Research Center (2015), and Statistics Denmark (2015). These studies are updated and complemented in this paper. Lanzieri’s consideration of the native population is supplemented by taking into account assimilation via marriages between natives and foreign-background persons. Immigration to Nordic countries increased significantly in 2015, but, on the other hand, immigration restrictions have been put in place. Therefore, there are no reliable estimates of future immigration. In this situation, the paper’s “what if” projections, incorporating the average 2012–2014 net immigration level, serve as useful reference information. The projected demographic changes are similar in the four Nordic countries. The development is fastest in Sweden; in 2065, the share of the native population is to decrease to 49%, the Western population is projected to fall to 63%, and the Muslim population increase to 25%.
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Bulletin of Geography. Socio–economic Series / No.39 (2018): 147–160
Population projections for Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland,
Kyösti TarvainenCDFMR
Aalto University, School of Science, Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis, Systems Analysis Laboratory, Otakaari 1
F, Espoo, 00076 Aalto, Finland; phone: +358 443 802 222; e-mail:
How to cite:
Tarvainen, K. (2018). Population projections for Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland, 2015–2065. Bulletin of Geography. Socio-
economic Series, 39(39), 147-160. DOI:
Abstract. e ethnic and religious compositions of Nordic populations have been
projected by Eurostat (Lanzieri, 2011), the Pew Research Center (2015), and Sta-
tistics Denmark (2015). ese studies are updated and complemented in this pa-
per. Lanzieri’s consideration of the native population is supplemented by taking
into account assimilation via marriages between natives and foreign-background
persons. Immigration to Nordic countries increased signicantly in 2015, but, on
the other hand, immigration restrictions have been put in place. erefore, there
are no reliable estimates of future immigration. In this situation, the paper’s “what
if” projections, incorporating the average 2012–2014 net immigration level, serve
as useful reference information. e projected demographic changes are similar
in the four Nordic countries. e development is fastest in Sweden; in 2065, the
share of the native population is to decrease to 49%, the Western population is
projected to fall to 63%, and the Muslim population increase to 25%.
1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148
2. Demographic projections that take immigration into account ............................... 149
3. Immigration to Nordic countries compared to other European countries ..................... 150
4. Main parameters of the population projection models ...................................... 151
5. Projection of the native and Muslim population 2015–2065 ................................. 153
6. Projection of the native population with assimilation via marriages .......................... 153
7. Projection of the Western population ..................................................... 155
8. Sensitivity analyses...................................................................... 155
9. Comparisons with earlier projections and other countries................................... 156
Article details:
Received: 01 December 2016
Revised: 09 October 2017
Accepted: 29 January 2018
Key words:
Nordic countries,
native population,
Muslim population,
Western population,
marital assimilation.
© 2018 Nicolaus Copernicus University. All rights reserved.
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Kyösti Tarvainen / Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series / 39 (2018): 147–160
10. Discussion ............................................................................ 157
11. Conclusion ........................................................................... 158
Acknowledgement ........................................................................ 158
References ............................................................................... 158
1. Introduction
The continual increase in the number of for-
eign-background individuals during recent decades
is an unprecedented demographic development in
Nordic countries in which the populations have pre-
viously been very homogeneous. In the four Nordic
countries considered - Sweden, Norway, Denmark,
and Finland - their starting points with respect to
this new development have been dierent. Sweden
received refugees during the 1940s, as well as many
foreign workers in later decades, while Finland’s
present immigration began with an inux of ref-
ugees in 1990. Aer their initial beginnings, each
country’s foreign-background population increase
has been rather similar (cf. the beginning of the
graphs in Figure 1). Iceland’s foreign-background
population growth has been similar to that of the
aforementioned countries (cf. Statistics Iceland,
2017). Iceland was not included in this research
since there were not enough available parameters
for an accurate cohort-component model.
Regarding the future, it is evident that the driv-
ing forces of immigration (including refugees, for-
eign workers, students, and spouses) will prevail and
are regulated by each country’s immigration poli-
cy. e purpose of this study is to delineate major
future changes to the ethnic and religious popula-
tions of four Nordic countries as a result of immi-
gration. e developed model can be used to study
the eects of dierent net immigration levels. As
an informative reference, the paper’s projections are
based on average immigration levels during 2012–
2014 (before the crisis year of 2015 and its conse-
quences in 2016).
Nordic statistical centres make long-term pop-
ulation projections. Because ethnicity and religion
are not registered, the centres’ projections do not
include proper projections for these aspects. Eth-
nic matters are partially taken into account in Sta-
tistics Denmark’s projections for both Western
and non-Western populations (Statistics Denmark,
2016) and the projections of Statistics Denmark and
Statistics Norway for three groups. ese groups are
the immigrants, their descendants, and ‘persons of
Danish origin’ (Statistics Denmark, 2016) or ‘the
rest of the population’ (Statistics Norway, 2016).
In the coming decades, this division will still
work rather well; however, later on in this centu-
ry, the third and further immigrant generations will
grow, whereby the third group will include many
foreign-background individuals. In fact, if immigra-
tion stopped entirely in Denmark, for example, all
persons would eventually be of ‘Danish origin’ aer
some time. Statistics Norway also has a classica-
tion system that takes third generation immigrants
into account (Dzamarija, 2014); however, this clas-
sication system is not used in their projections. In
Finland, the mother language is registered (Statis-
tics Finland, 2017), which results in some informa-
tion on the populations ethnicity and religion. City
of Helsinki Urban Facts (2016) has made popula-
tion projections for dierent language groups with-
in Greater Helsinki.
e best means of tracking the ethnic and reli-
gious compositions of the Nordic countries would
involve censuses like those used in the United King-
dom. A simple extrapolation of British censuses in-
dicates that white Britons will be in the minority
by approximately 2070. is is conrmed by Cole-
man’s demographic projections (Coleman, 2010).
Even though censuses would also be useful in Nor-
dic countries, no ocial discussion has occurred re-
garding their potential use.
In addition to Statistics Denmark’s and Statistics
Norway’s projections mentioned previously, the fol-
lowing ethnic predictions have been made for Nor-
dic countries. Coleman (2006: 416) estimated that,
if the trends continue, Sweden would have a ma-
jority foreign-origin population by the end of the
century. Eurostat (Lanzieri, 2011) has prepared pro-
jections for up to 2061 for the foreign-background
people of Sweden, Denmark, and Finland (but not
for Norway which does not belong to the EU). We
will update these projections and also present a fore-
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Kyösti Tarvainen / Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series / 39 (2018): 147–160
cast for Norway by applying the same methodolo-
gy that Lanzieri uses. We will complement Lanzieri’s
methodology by also considering assimilation via
marriage between natives and foreign-background
persons. Concerning religion, the major new devel-
opment due to immigration is the increase in the
number of Muslims. e Pew Institute has made
Muslim projections for all Nordic countries (Pew
Forum, 2011; Pew Research Center, 2015). We will
update these projections. Interest in population pro-
jections in Nordic countries has been minor among
politicians and the public. Perhaps this is due to a
general distrust of forecasts and uncertainty regard-
ing the consequences of changes to the ethnic and
religious population compositions. However, some
simple, unprofessional predictions that indicate sig-
nicant changes have been presented in social me-
dia, and some politicians have asked their statistical
centre to provide projections regarding ethnicity
and religion as well.
We will next describe the population divisions
used in the present study. In the Pew Forum (2011),
the whole population is divided into Muslims and
non-Muslims. In the present study, the non-Muslim
group is divided further into two populations: na-
tives and persons with a foreign background. us,
three groups are considered here: (a) the native
population, (b) the Muslim population, and (c) the
non-Muslim population with a foreign background.
Another division into the Western and non-West-
ern population, as used by Statistics Denmark and
Norway, is also considered. As in the Pew Forum
(2011), the Muslim population is considered as a
group of its own, since relatively few non-Muslims
become Muslims and relatively few Muslims leave
According to the main classication principles
of the Nordic statistical centres, persons are of for-
eign background if they are born abroad or both of
their parents are born abroad. Others are of nation-
al - Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, or Finnish - origin.
In this study, the term native population is used. It
is approximated before January 1, 2015, as people
who, according to the classication of the statisti-
cal centres, are of national origin. However, later in
this century, the third and further immigrant gen-
erations will form an ever-bigger proportion of the
people of national origin, as dened by the statisti-
cal centres. erefore, to better approximate the na-
tive population aer January 1, 2015, we apply the
following two approaches.
First, in Section 5, we approximate - in the same
way as Lanzieri (2011) in his most advanced mod-
el 4 of the Eurostat projections - the native popu-
lation as a group of its own. Correspondingly, the
initial size of the native population is taken to be
the number of people of national origin on Jan-
uary 1, 2015, as dened by the statistical centres,
and all descendants of these persons are regarded
as natives. In biological terms, the native popula-
tion’s share reects the genetic portion of the his-
toric ethnic population. On the other hand, the
native population is slowly changing due to mar-
riages between natives and foreign-background per-
sons. erefore, in the second approximation, we
take into account marital assimilation. ereby, it
is assumed that foreign-background persons who
marry a native - or at least their descendants in
future generations - will become natives. For pro-
gramming reasons, we make the simplication that
a foreign-background person marrying a native be-
comes a native. Marital assimilation is considered
in Section 6. As a third approach, we describe the
ethnic composition by considering the combined
Western population, which consists of natives and
Western foreign-background persons, as dened by
Statistics Denmark and Norway. is is explained in
more detail in Section 7. Before considering these
dierent models for Nordic countries, we describe
the basic features of demographic modelling in Sec-
tion 2 and take a general look at European immi-
gration in Section 3.
2. Demographic projections that take im-
migration into account
In this paper, we consider the demographic changes
that occur due to migration. Herein, the prediction
of these changes is based on the standard demo-
graphic cohort-component method (see, e.g., Preston
et al., 2001). In this technique, each subpopulation
is divided into age groups: at the beginning of each
year, we consider the number of persons aged 0
years, 1 year, 2 years, and so on. If, for example,
at the beginning of a year, there are one thousand
persons aged 50, a year later we have one thousand
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Kyösti Tarvainen / Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series / 39 (2018): 147–160
persons aged 51, minus those who had died dur-
ing the previous year, plus the net immigration of
those who had immigrated and turned 51 during
the year. A particular case is the individuals whose
age is 0 years at the beginning of a year. ese are
babies who were born during the previous year.
eir number depends on womens fertility.
Statistical centres have historical data on the
mortality and fertility of various age groups, as well
as on net immigration. Population projections re-
quire estimates of the future values of these vari-
ables. Mortality has been decreasing in European
countries and based on historical mortality values,
we can extrapolate future mortality rates. One mod-
el for doing so is the one used by Statistics Swe-
den (2015: 137). Fertility in the Nordic countries is
somewhat below the replacement level of 2.1 chil-
dren per woman, and in most projections, it is as-
sumed that it will remain at about the present level.
In those European countries in which the fertility is
much below the replacement level, one can antici-
pate that it will potentially increase due to an ex-
pected increase in state support for families with
children. In some ethnic and religious groups, fer-
tility is higher than the average. e most signi-
cant group with a higher-than-average fertility rate
is Muslims, for whom the Pew Research Center
(2015) has made fertility projections.
Net immigration is the most uncertain quanti-
ty in these projections because it depends on the
country’s migration policy and conicts abroad. In
fact, net immigration to Western European coun-
tries is now so extensive that uncertainties in the
other factors are not signicant compared with the
uncertainties in net immigration. Aer demograph-
ic modelling, one can easily vary the predicted val-
ues to see how uncertainties in those values aect
the projections. In the present study, these consider-
ations are described in the Sensitivity analyses sec-
Net immigration is also a central variable in
the sense that even if it seems small compared to
the total population, it causes signicant popula-
tion changes surprisingly rapidly. Consider Swe-
den as an example. In 2009, the net immigration
of non-natives was 63,000 people. is is only 0.7%
of the total population of 9,400,000. But let us look
at how the numbers of native Swedes and persons
with foreign background changed during 2009. In
2009, native Swedes gave birth to 86,000 babies,
and mothers with foreign background gave birth
to 26,000 babies. at is, the number of individu-
als with foreign background increased by 63,000 +
26,000 = 89,000 persons, which is higher than the
increase of native Swedes, which was 86,000.
Hence, net immigration must be compared to
the number of new babies, not the entire popula-
tion. If migration continues such that in each year
aer 2009 the increase due to births and immigra-
tion of non-natives is larger than that of natives, it
is evident than in, say, one hundred years, individ-
uals with foreign background will be the majority.
is development is speeded still further by the fact
that due to diering age distributions, more natives
than non-natives will die during the coming dec-
ades. e cohort-component method takes all these
aspects into account.
Coleman (2013) describes in detail the demo-
graphic modelling of population changes due to
immigration. Besides the Eurostat study (Lanzie-
ri, 2011), which is the most import reference for
the present study, Coleman mentions the following
European studies dealing with ethnic projections:
OPCS (1979) for ethnic minority populations in
England and Wales; Ulrich (2001) for Germany; the
only ethnic projection prepared by Statistics Sweden
(2003); Lebhart and Münz (2004) for Austria; Tsim-
bos (2008) for Greece; Coleman (2010) and Rees
et al. (2012) for the UK; Stoeldraijer and Garssen
(2011) for the Netherlands; and regular projections
in Denmark and Norway mentioned above (Statis-
tics Denmark, 2016; Statistics Norway, 2016).
3. Immigration to Nordic countries com-
pared to other European countries
We look here at the Nordic countries in the con-
text of Europe which can be divided into two parts:
Western European countries and Central-Eastern
European countries. Herein, the latter group is de-
ned as including the formerly socialist countries
of Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary,
Serbia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzego-
vina, Albania, Lithuania, Macedonia, Latvia, Slove-
nia, Estonia, Montenegro, and Kosovo.
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Kyösti Tarvainen / Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series / 39 (2018): 147–160
In some Western European countries, af-
ter World War II, immigrants from other West-
ern and non-European states assisted in rebuilding
the country and helped their expanding economies
which were experiencing a shortage of workers. In
contrast, in more recent years, immigration in most
Western countries has been based more on refugees
and the spouses and relatives of those with a foreign
background. Also, many international students stay
in the country where they studied.
In Western Europe, attitudes toward immigra-
tion have been mostly positive, particularly among
politicians and the media. A striking indication of
this is that in 1975, the Swedish Parliament unan-
imously declared Sweden a multicultural coun-
try (Sveriges Riksdag, 1975). However, in the last
few years, especially aer the immigration crisis of
2015, the majority of Swedish politicians have made
a complete about-face. For example, one politician
who voted for a multicultural Sweden in 1975 stat-
ed 41 years later that the decision had been an error.
She now says that she ‘feels like living in a foreign
country where every third person comes from a
country with a totally dierent culture, religion, and
living habits’ (Lantz, 2016). Furthermore, the Swed-
ish government has now restricted the immigration
of foreign spouses as much as the European Union
allows. However, there are many EU and UN reg-
ulations and agreements concerning, for example,
refugees. Hence, it is not easy to restrict immigra-
tion: Statistics Sweden (2017) projects that net im-
migration in 2017 will be 94,000 and will decrease
to 51,000 in 2026.
In Central-Eastern Europe, international im-
migration during socialism was modest; however,
a signicant number of Russians moved into the
Balkan countries. Since the fall of socialism, Cen-
tral-Eastern Europe has not attracted many refugees
because the social benets are generally smaller than
in Western Europe. Also, there has been no signif-
icant demand for foreign workers. On the contra-
ry, many have moved to other EU countries to earn
higher salaries. Unlike in Western Europe, there has
been no ideological support for multiculturalism in
Central-Eastern Europe. One reason for this is that
people appreciate their national cultures because
they were threatened by the socialist culture which
was dominated by the Soviet Union. Also, for exam-
ple, Hungary has the historical experience of Mus-
lim domination. In Central-Eastern Europe, many
leading politicians have stated their opposition to
multiculturalism and their desire to preserve their
national, European cultures. Many point to bad ex-
periences in Western Europe related to the immi-
gration of Muslims.
is division in Europe concerning immigration
is reected in demography. In Central-Eastern Eu-
ropean countries, the average share of foreign-born
people is 7%, and in Western European countries, it
is 13% (United Nations, 2017). Regarding Muslims,
the dierence is more signicant because Muslims
are mainly from the Middle East, Asia, and Afri-
ca which comprise very dierent ethnic and reli-
gious groups compared to those of Europeans. If
we exclude the Central-Eastern Europe countries
that have a historical Muslim population (Albania,
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Macedonia,
and Montenegro), the share of the Muslim popula-
tion in 2010 was on average 0.9% in the other con-
sidered Central-Eastern countries. In contrast, in
Western European countries, the average percent-
age of the Muslim population in 2010 was 4.1%,
and it is growing rapidly: the share is projected to
be 8.3% in 2050 (Pew Research Center, 2015). Aer
this general background information, we will con-
sider the population projections in the four Nordic
countries specically.
4. Main parameters of the population pro-
jection models
Due to the turmoil in immigration matters in 2015,
there are no reliable forecasts for future immigra-
tion. erefore, in this study, immigration is taken
to be constant, based on the average net immigra-
tion for 2012–2014. Hence, the results serve as use-
ful reference information regarding the long-term
eects of immigration at the 2012–2014 level. is
net level is 64,000 immigrants in Sweden, 42,000
in Norway, 22,000 in Denmark, and 17,000 in Fin-
land. Net immigration is taken as consisting of
non-natives since the numbers of emigrating and
immigrating natives can be assumed to be relative-
ly similar in the future. Table 1 presents the main
parameters of the projection models, with the data
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Kyösti Tarvainen / Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series / 39 (2018): 147–160
sources in parentheses. e following points pro-
vide additional information about the models:
All values concerning immigration are based on
net immigration for 2012–2014. e cohort-compo-
nent method is used in the computer program, for
which the initial age groups of dierent populations
are obtained from statistical centres’ data banks.
Muslims’ fertility rate estimates for 2015–2050
are based on the Pew Research Center (2015). Dur-
ing 2050–2065, they are assumed to decrease line-
arly towards the replacement TFR value 2.1 in 2100
(in line with the United Nations converging fertil-
ity projections).
e percentage values of immigrating Muslims
are generally determined by assuming that the share
of Muslims among persons coming from a country
is the same as in the country’s population.
According to Statistics Norway and Denmark
classications, Western countries include European
Union countries, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, the
USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and some
midget countries.
Predictions for the increase in the length of life
are based on the model presented by Statistics Swe-
den (2015: 137).
Intermarriage percentages are discussed in Sec-
tion 6.
Sweden Norway Denmark Finland
Number of natives 1.01.2015
(statistical centres) 7,655,149 4,360,839 5,002,242 5,149,042
Number of Muslims 1.01.2015
(Pew Research Center) 535,000 215,000 260,000 55,000
Number of non-Muslims with foreign
background 1.01.2015 (statistical cen-
1,557,206 589,963 397,473 267,711
Fertility rates (TFR) aer 1.01.2015 for
natives and non-Muslims (statistical
1.84–1.88 1.74–1.77 1.73–1.90 1.7
Fertility rates (TFR) for Muslims
2010–2015 (Pew Research Center)
2045–2050 (Pew Research Center)
Percentage of immigrating persons
(net) who are Muslims (statistical cen-
53% 18% 25% 22%
Percentage of immigrating persons
(net) who come from a Western coun-
try (stat. centres)
25% 72% 61% 37%
Foreign-background persons who mar-
ry a native, as percentage of the native
population (Wiik, 2014)
8% 8% 8% 8%
Average net immigration 2012–2014
(statistical centres) 64,000 42,000 22,000 17,000
Percentage of Western foreign-back-
ground inhabitants of all foreign-back-
ground persons 1.01.2015 (statistical
40% 53% 36% 29%
Table 1. Main parameters of the projection models
Source: See parentheses
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Kyösti Tarvainen / Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series / 39 (2018): 147–160
5. Projection of the native and Muslim
population 2015–2065
e computer results in Swedens case are illustrat-
ed in Table 2 (population numbers are for January
1). According to the table, the Muslim population
grows annually at 4.1% due to fertility being above
the replacement level and the yearly net intake of
34,000 new Muslim immigrants (= 0.53*64,000; cf.
Table 1).
Fig. 1 shows how the share of the native popu-
lation approaches 50% in Nordic countries. In Swe-
den in 2065, the native population makes up 49%
of the population.
Fig. 2 presents the development of the Mus-
lim population. e increase of slope around 2015
in Sweden’s case is due to the rise in Muslim net
immigration during recent years: the average for
2012–2014 is 40% higher than that for 2009–2011.
In 2065, the Muslim population share in Sweden is
about 25%, in Norway and Denmark 12%, and in
Finland 7%.
6. Projection of the native population with
assimilation via marriages
According to Statistics Norway (Wiik, 2014), 8%
of persons of Norwegian origin who marry have a
foreign-background spouse. e same percentage is
also used here for the other Nordic countries (es-
timates for the three other countries vary from 6%
to 8%). According to Skans and Åslund (2010), it
seems that a relatively constant number of natives
marry a foreign-background person; in the three
biggest Swedish cities, the mixed-marriage rate has
remained practically the same for 20 years, despite a
signicant increase in the number of foreign-back-
ground persons living there.
In the Eurostat report, Lanzieri (2012) discuss-
es future trends in intermarriages and states that
opposing factors inuence the future intermar-
riage rate. In this kind of situation, when there is
no clear direction for the future development, it is
a valid modelling practice to use the present val-
ue. erefore, the percentage of 8% is a constant in
Fig. 1. History (1980–2015) and projection of the native population. For 2015–2065, net immigration is taken to be con-
stant, based on the average value for 2012–2014 (cf. Table 1)
Source: Statistical centres (1980–2015), own calculations (2015–2065)
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Kyösti Tarvainen / Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series / 39 (2018): 147–160
the present projections. No studies on mixed ori-
gins in consensual unions currently exist, and it is
assumed that the share in these is the same as in
marriages. Using these intermarriage assumptions,
and by regarding a foreign-background person as
a native when they marry a native, the native pop-
ulation share increases relatively little compared to
the projections given in Fig. 1. In Sweden’s case in
2065, the native population share rises by three per-
centage points, from 49% to 52%; the increase in
percentage points is three in Norway and ve in
Denmark and Finland. is indicates that Lanzie-
ri’s considerations of the native population are, in
practical terms, accurate enough.
Table 2. Results for Sweden assuming net immigration at the 2012–2014 level
Source: Own calculations
Yea r Native Swedes Muslims
with foreign
New-borns to
New-borns to
New immi-
grants (net)
2015 7,655,000 535,000 1,557,000 81,200 37,600 64,000
2020 7,672,000 778,000 1,803,000 84,600 45,100 64,000
2025 7,693,000 1,051,000 2,041,000 83,500 51,500 64,000
2030 7,690,000 1,347,000 2,262,000 78,800 56,900 64,000
2035 7,661,000 1,660,000 2,467,000 78,600 61,900 64,000
2040 7,626,000 1,987,000 2,662,000 80,500 68,300 64,000
2045 7,592,000 2,329,000 2,867,000 79,900 77,600 64,000
2050 7,550,000 2,692,000 3,091,000 77,100 88,200 64,000
2055 7,497,000 3,080,000 3,327,000 74,900 96,800 64,000
2060 7,432,000 3,485,000 3,562,000 73,000 102,900 64,000
2065 7,364,000 3,903,000 3,791,000 72,100 108,300 64,000
Fig. 2. History (1990–2015) and projection of the Muslim population, assuming constant net immigration based on the av-
erage value for 2012–2014 (cf. Table 1)
Source: Statistical centres (1990–2015), own calculations (2015–65)
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Kyösti Tarvainen / Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series / 39 (2018): 147–160
However, in future studies, natives’ foreign-back-
ground spouses could be included in the native pop-
ulation; this would resemble the statistical centres
denition that if a person and one parent are born
in the country but one parent is born abroad, the
person is of national origin. We note that the num-
ber of new immigrants is nowadays so high that
they are not absorbed via marrying members of the
native population, as was mainly the case previously.
e dominant eect of immigration is clear in Swe-
dens case (Table 2). In 2015, the number of net im-
migrants (64,000) is almost 80% of the number of
children born to natives (81,200). at is, as the na-
tive population is approximately stable, roughly 80%
of the natives would have to marry a foreign-back-
ground person for the immigrants to merge com-
pletely into the native population via marriage.
7. Projection of the Western population
Historically - most visibly in royal families - virtu-
ally all persons who came from a Western country
to a Nordic country, and stayed there, merged into
the native population via marriage - or the person’s
descendants did so eventually. On the other hand,
unions between natives and non-Westerners have
been, and continue to be, rarer for ethnic and cul-
tural reasons.
Consequently, a relevant approach to delineate
the ethnic composition of a country is to pay atten-
tion to the combined Western population, consisting
of natives and Western foreign-background persons.
Nowadays, ethnic non-Westerners live in Western
countries, but, as a sound approximation, we can
still assume that immigrants coming from Western
countries are Westerners. We divide the population
into Western and non-Western parts and regard de-
scendants of the Western population as Westerners
and do the same for the non-Western population.
To avoid mixed populations, we view non-Western-
ers who marry a Westerner as Westerners. is re-
sembles the statistical centres’ denition that if a
person and one parent are born in the country, but
one parent is born abroad, the person is of national
origin. Statistics Denmark uses Western/non-West-
ern classications in marriages. For example, from
the 2015 data, one can conclude that 4% of per-
sons of Western origin who marry have a spouse
belonging to the non-Western population. For oth-
er Nordic countries, we can determine a rough es-
timate of 6%.
Fig. 3 depicts projections for the Western pop-
ulation. In 2065, the share of the Western popu-
lation decreases to about 65% in Sweden and to
around 85% in other Nordic countries. e percent-
age for the Western people in Denmark in 2050 is
86%, which is three percentage points lower than
that given in the Statistical Yearbook (Statistic Den-
mark, 2016 which assumes a much smaller net im-
migration rate.
8. Sensitivity analyses
Sensitivity analyses have been conducted concern-
ing the parameters of the model. For example, if
in Sweden’s case the used intermarriage percentage
of 8% is increased to 15%, then the native popula-
tion (including the foreign spouses) in 2065 only
increases by three percentage points, from 52% to
55%. Furthermore, in Swedens case, if we run the
model while decreasing the fertility of the natives by
10%, their share in 2065 only reduces from 48.9% to
47.7%. Likewise, if we increase the fertility of Mus-
lims by 10%, the natives’ share just drops by 0.8 of
a percentage point.
When making similar sensitivity analyses con-
cerning other parameters of the model, while con-
sidering realistic uncertainties in them, we do not
see fundamental changes in the results, except when
net immigration is considered. For example, if Swe-
dens net immigration is increased by 10% (from
64,000 to 70,400), the share of the native popula-
tion decreases by 1.6 percentage points (from 48.9%
to 47.3%). Clearly, net immigration is the only pa-
rameter that can be altered signicantly (by political
decisions), and thus fundamentally change the pro-
jections. Also Coleman (2006) states that the popu-
lation projections are most sensitive to assumptions
about migration.
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Kyösti Tarvainen / Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series / 39 (2018): 147–160
9. Comparisons with earlier projections
and other countries
e Eurostat projections (Lanzieri, 2011: 31–33)
for the foreign-background population of the three
Nordic EU countries in 2061 (using the most ad-
vanced model 4) are as follows (the corresponding
percentage obtained in the present study is in pa-
- Sweden 39% (49%)
- Denmark 36% (34%)
- Finland 20% (25%).
e Pew Research Center (2015) oers the fol-
lowing estimates for the Muslim population share
in 2050 (the corresponding percentage obtained in
the present study is in parentheses):
- Sweden 12.4% (20%)
- Norway 8.9% (9.7%)
- Denmark 8.5% (10%)
- Finland 3.4% (4.9%).
e signicant deviances in the projections
for Sweden are due to increased immigration lev-
els, which could be taken into account in the pres-
ent, and thus more recent, study. In Lanzieri (2011:
34), the cumulative net migration to Sweden during
2008–2061 is 1,697,000 persons, whereas the cor-
responding number in this research is 3,456,000,
based on the 2012–2014 average. Furthermore, as
mentioned in Section 5, there has been a signicant
increase in Muslim immigration to Sweden.
We will next compare the Nordic projections
with those in other European states. e Pew Re-
search Center (2015) has prepared projections of
the Muslim population in 2050 for every country
in the world, enabling the comparison of the Nordic
states to other European countries in this respect.
According to the present study, the Muslim popula-
tion in 2050 would vary between 4.9% (in Finland)
and 20% (in Sweden). According to the Pew Re-
search Center (2015), in 2050, the average percent-
age of the Muslim population in Western European
countries is 8.3% and in Central-Eastern Europe-
an countries (excluding those countries with a his-
torical Muslim community, as mentioned above), it
is 1.7%.
Fig. 3. Projection of the Western population (natives and Western foreign-background people). Western countries include
EU countries, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Net immigration is taken to
be constant, based on the average value for 2012–2014 (cf. Table 1)
Source: Own calculations
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Kyösti Tarvainen / Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series / 39 (2018): 147–160
e present study did not nd data on the for-
eign-background populations of every European
country because many countries make population
projections only for the entire community. Howev-
er, the Eurostat study (Lanzieri, 2011: 31–34, Model
4) provides foreign-background population projec-
tions for 2061 for each of the 27 EU countries. As
indicated previously, in the present study, the pro-
jected foreign-background population for 2061
in the four Nordic countries varies from 25% (in
Finland) to 49% (in Sweden). e Eurostat study
found an average percentage of 39% for Western
European EU countries in 2061 (the small nations
of Cyprus, Luxembourg, and Malta excluded). e
highest percentage of the projected foreign-back-
ground population in 2061 is 54.2% in Austria. e
corresponding average portion in Central-Eastern
EU countries would be 16%. We see that there are
dierences between the various Nordic countries,
but on the whole, they are in line with the general
trends in Western Europe.
10. Discussion
In this type of demographic study, we can only proj-
ect the development of dierent population groups.
It is up to every individual to personally evaluate
the cultural and political consequences of these pro-
jections. Coleman (2009) gives a demographers ac-
count of the possible implications of immigration.
Further, the Oxford Professor Paul Collier (2013)
provides a thorough, balanced analysis. One major
visible change, which Skans and Åslund (2010) de-
scribe in Swedens case, is segregation concerning
living areas, workplaces, schools and marriages.
Attitudes towards immigration divide the pop-
ulation in each Nordic country to a greater extent
than the classic division into le- and right-wing
parties. ere are, however, some dierences in at-
titudes to immigration in the Nordic countries. It
seems that Norwegians are mainly positive in this
regard; according to a 2017 attitude study by Statis-
tics Norway, the share of respondents who agreed
with the statement ‘most immigrants make an im-
portant contribution to Norwegian working life’ was
71% (Blom, 2017). e Swedes seem to have mostly
negative attitudes; in a poll (Ipsos, 2017), only 25%
agreed with the statement ‘immigration has general-
ly had a positive impact on your country’. Note that
these percentages for Norway and Sweden are prac-
tically the same as those in Table 1, describing the
share of immigrants coming from a Western coun-
try: 72% for Norway and 25% for Sweden.
Some expect that the dierences between var-
ious groups will continue to grow and eventually
create changes in the predominant culture. Some
assume that these dierences will reduce and that
there will be assimilation and better integration be-
tween the various groups. It was observed in Sec-
tion 6 that the most potent form of assimilation
- marriage between a native and foreign-back-
ground person or between persons with Western
and non-Western backgrounds - will probably not
be signicant during the next 50 years due to immi-
gration volumes. However, cultural assimilation and
integration will naturally occur as well. e stron-
gest controversy concerns Islam, which according to
the Inglehart-Welzel Cultural Map, is farthest from
the Nordic Lutheran values (World Values Survey,
2015). A possible concern is also the fact that a reli-
gious or ethnic group may act dierently as a dom-
inant group as compared to the present minority
In every Nordic country, there is a party whose
primary agenda is to decrease immigration (Bart-
lett et al., 2011). Further, some old parties have
backed regulations that limit immigration. Howev-
er, it is not easy to limit immigration. For instance,
there are international agreements concerning refu-
gees and foreign spouses; private rms benet from
foreign workers; and when the number of persons
with foreign backgrounds increase, there are more
individuals who can help their countrymen to en-
ter the Nordic country. Further, there are many in-
ternational students who choose to remain in the
country where they studied. An additional reason
for the growth of foreign-background populations
in the four Nordic countries under study is the fact
that fertility in some immigrant groups is higher
than that of the native population. Statistics Sweden
(2018) provides fertility projections based on the
Human Development Index of the mother’s coun-
try of birth. In Finland, there are fertility statistics
and predictions based on language groups (City of
Helsinki Urban Facts, 2016).
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Kyösti Tarvainen / Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series / 39 (2018): 147–160
11. Conclusion
In this paper, the considerations on religion are
similar to those of the Pew Research Center. Ethnic
development is considered from three dierent an-
gles: dealing with the native population (as in the
Eurostat projections by Lanzieri, 2011), the native
population with assimilation via marriage, and the
Western population (in line with the denitions of
Statistics Norway and Denmark). It turned out in
Section 6 that the most potent form of assimilation,
marriage between a native and foreign-background
person is not signicant during the next 50 years,
due to immigration volumes. us, Lanzieri’s meth-
odology of making projections is accurate enough.
Immigrants from over one hundred countries
have entered the Nordic countries. e paper’s eth-
nic and religious outlines concerning this develop-
ment indicate that unprecedented historical changes
are occurring in the previously homogeneous coun-
tries of Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland
(see Figures 1–3). e surprisingly fast population
changes can be understood by comparing the net
immigration level to the number of newborns, rath-
er than the total population (cf. Section 2).
e projected population changes presented in
Figures 1–3 are not surprising when one looks at
the known historical development indicated by the
solid lines in Figures 1 and 2. In the text, several
driving forces of immigration are mentioned; Col-
lier (2013) devotes the second chapter of the book
to discussing the acceleration of migration. Accord-
ing to Pew Research Center (2017), even if the net
immigration to, for example, Sweden would be zero
in the future, the estimated 8.1% share of Muslims
in 2016 is projected to increase to 11.1% in 2050.
Nordic governments have restricted immigra-
tion, especially aer the crisis in 2015. However,
from the perspective of demography, these restric-
tions are not major: they will somewhat slow down
the pace of the population changes but not stop
them. Among the Nordic politicians, there has been
no public discussion about the demographic devel-
opments and how the immigration policy could af-
fect them. e vital subject of demographic changes
seems still to be taboo among the politicians; Col-
lier (2013) discusses migration taboos in his book.
In the context of discussions on immigration, de-
mographic projections like those included above are
meant to present neutral, useful information. Fur-
thermore, demographic models can delineate the ef-
fects of various immigration policies.
e author thanks Professor David Coleman for
his comments during this research, Dr. Marcin
Stonawski for providing sources concerning Mus-
lim populations, and Dr. Kenneth Wiik for infor-
mation on cohabitating relationships.
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e proofreading of articles, positively reviewed and approved for publishing in the ‘Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series’, was nanced from
the funds of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education earmarked for activities popularizing science, in line with Agreement No 509/P-DUN/2016.
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... Alapvető fontosságú tehát az etnokulturális és demográfiai reprodukció közötti különbségtétel. A legújabb nemzetközi etnikai népesség-előreszámítások ma már alkalmaznak asszimilációs modelleket (Norman et al., 2010;Rees and Wohland et al., 2012;Tarvainen, 2018). Az etnikai csoportok előreszámításánál tehát nem elhanyagolható kérdés, hogy a különböző etnikai csoportok közötti keveredést milyen módon vesszük figyelembe ; az asszimiláció mérési lehetőségeiről lásd Balizs, 2016). ...
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This paper uses the first available vital statistics by citizenship for Greece to estimate current fertility among immigrants and natives. Subsequently, population projections are employed to assess the demographic effects of migrant/native fertility and of immigration on the country's population for the period 2005-2025. It is estimated (2005) that immigrants exhibit earlier childbearing and higher total fertility (2.12) than natives (1.24). Of the ethnic groups considered, Albanians have the highest and Bulgarians the lowest rates. Although births to immigrants represent a considerable share (16.5%) their impact on overall fertility is very limited. The projections reveal that the ageing of the country's population is inevitable as the effects of variant levels of foreign/native fertility are minor and immigration, in spite of being the most important component having a favorable impact, cannot offset this process. The concept of Replacement Migration is an infeasible solution as it would require an unattainable intake of 4 million newcomers.
The ethnic minority populations in the UK are growing substantially through immigration, a youthful age structure, and in some cases relatively high fertility. Their diverse demographic and socioeconomic characteristics have attracted considerable academic and policy attention, especially insofar as those distinctive characteristics have persisted in the generations born in the UK. No official projections of the UK ethnic populations have been published since 1979. This article provides projections to 2056 and beyond of 12 ethnic groups. Given overall net immigration and vital rates as assumed in the office for National Statistics 2008-based Principal Projection, and the ethnic characteristics estimated here, the ethnic minority populations (including the Other White) would increase from 13 percent of the UK population in 2006 to 28 percent by 2031 and 44 percent by 2056, and to about half the 0-4 age group in 2056. Alternative projections assume various lower levels of immigration. Possible implications of projected changes are discussed.
The uneven timing of the demographic transition in different countries of the world will lead to divergence between countries in ethnic and religious homogeneity. Developed-country populations that began their fertility transitions relatively early are becoming increasingly diverse with respect to the ethnic origin and religion of their inhabitants, primarily as a result of high recent levels of immigration. Many demographic patterns of the developed world, such as low death and birth rates, are becoming universal. It might be expected that less developed countries will also turn from emigration to experiencing immigration, as their populations age and their economies develop. This essay suggests, however, that future ethnic diversity arising from immigration may be less marked in many of those developing countries than in the West, especially among latecomers to the fertility transition. Five reasons are advanced as impediments to the globalization of ethnic heterogeneity arising from immigration: demographic, economic, political, and factors related to resource constraints, and climate change. The essay considers what social, economic, and political consequences might arise if high levels of ethnic diversity, and possibly ethnic replacement, remained an idiosyncratic peculiarity of today's developed countries, which would therefore diverge in important ways from the rest of the world as the twenty-first century unfolds. Copyright (c) 2009 The Population Council, Inc..
Oversikt over personer med ulik grad av innvandringsbakgrunn (Overview of persons having different kinds of foreign-background - in Norwegian
  • M T Dzamarija
Dzamarija, M.T. (2014). Oversikt over personer med ulik grad av innvandringsbakgrunn (Overview of persons having different kinds of foreign-background -in Norwegian). Rapporter, 2014/6, Oslo: Statistics Norway, available at:, DoA: 21.12.2017. Ipsos. (2017). Global Views on Immigration and the Refugee Crisis. London: Ipsos MORI, available at: https://, DoA: 26.01.2018.