Several presentations were held during the two day meeting in Sandnessjøen, and we have gathered some of them here. Please note that the presentations are not to be spread further, changed or copied. If you wish to use any of the material then please contact us at


Disturbing implications of population ageing in the Scottish REGINA Case study area

As part of the demographic foresight task of REGINA, Nordregio has developed a prototype “Demographic Foresight Model” based on data for the Scottish case study area – the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area, or PFOW for short. This comprises the Orkney Islands and the adjacent mainland areas of Caithness and Sutherland, with a population of a little over 60,000 people. This area has been chosen in order to study the potential to retain the employment and growth benefits of a major development of tidal energy in the Pentland Firth (the channel between Orkney and mainland Scotland).

Figure       SEQ Figure \* ARABIC
   1      : Population Pyramid for the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Area 203

Figure 1: Population Pyramid for the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Area 203

The Demographic Foresight Model (DFM) is an Excel spreadsheet, intended to be accessible and easy to use without any special expertise or additional software. At its core is a conventional (but simplified) population cohort projection model. The innovative aspect is that the DFM allows municipality planners to explore the implications of a range of scenarios in terms of changes in migration, or “employment shocks”, (either positive or negative) associated with large scale developments.

Why is this a valuable tool for the small, sparsely populated municipalities of the Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) area? Although the availability and quality of local area population projections varies between the countries of the NPA area, it is fair to say that, on the whole the national statistical agencies are not able to provide “tailored” estimates, taking account of local knowledge and local trends. In some cases the national projections are carried out first, based on assumptions which pay little attention to the specificities of the NPA, and local projections subsequently adjusted to fit. The REGINA DFM will allow local planners to explore the future for their municipality, according to assumptions validated by local stakeholders.

Figure       SEQ Figure \* ARABIC
   2      : Dependency Ratio Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Area 2015-2050

Figure 2: Dependency Ratio Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Area 2015-2050

One of the rather striking findings of the PFOW model is that by 2035 the dependency ratio for this area will be 1:1 – in other words for every person in the working age population (WAP) there is another person who is in the “dependent” age groups, either children, or pensioners. The implications of this in terms of the local balance between tax raising potential and the demand for services are disturbing. This finding is of course not “news” to planners or demographers, but the DFM allows us to illustrate this through graphs and diagrams which could be used to push this issue up the policy agenda for NPA municipalities.