Restructuring and employment change in sparsely populated areas: examples from Northern Sweden and Finland
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
The purpose of this thesis is to examine ongoing restructuring and its impacts on sparsely populated areas in Sweden and Finland. In the context of sparsely populated areas, the global processes have great local impact because of their poor capacity to adapt to rapid economic changes. The focus here is on tourism and forest-related employment, however amenity motives for mobility and migration are also considered in relation to restructuring. A major part of the information used in this thesis comes from a database collected and stored by Statistics Sweden.
Results show that employment in tourism in the Swedish mountain municipalities is largely seasonal in character. The seasonality of tourism has caused seasonal in-migration or long-distance commuting of young people, first and foremost to the southern mountain municipalities. The success of tourism as a regional development strategy is affected by the structure and characteristics of the local labour force. The importance of tourism for development also depends on other regional characteristics such as infrastructure, demographic composition, experience and education of the local labour force, as well as on attributes of the tourism industry. The assumed and almost automatic positive relationship between nature conservation and tourism is challenged. Tourism employment does not automatically follow from unemployment in forest sectors, accentuating differences in the characteristics of the labour force needed in tourism, forestry and related activities and the difficulty of enforcing restructuring and diversification towards tourism.
In the last article, analyses of the forest-related employment are in focus. It is concluded that there is no significant effect of climate change on employment. Instead other global, national and local processes and interrelationships, such as supply and demand and productivity increase, have a greater impact on employment. Forestry and related sectors have shifted towards a more capital intensive management, which means that the productivity rate of the each worker is so high that the increasing amount of harvestable forest due to climate change does not involve the employment of more people. The relative unimportance of forestry and forest-related employment in the research area has also been highlighted.
In conclusion, the economic restructuring processes in relation to tourism have been limited in a majority of the mountain municipalities. This is clearly demonstrated by the high level of seasonal labour mobility to some parts of the mountain area. However, there is evidence suggesting a positive relationship between seasonal tourism employment and permanent migration. To the north, there are fewer large resorts with high seasonal pressure than in the south. This means that tourism can be a way of maintaining work opportunities and sustaining local service. In the south and in the larger resorts, tourism might be a way to ensure more employment, albeit on a seasonal basis. Local diversity through place-dependent activities like tourism and resource-based recreation, as well as resource extraction, might offer opportunities for economic diversification. However, if the demographic structure is unbalanced there will be difficulties in pursuing economic restructuring and diversification. Add to this a peripheral location and there are many obstacles to increasing population, even temporarily. Thus, tourism development must be carefully considered on a local basis.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Kulturgeografi , 2006. , 182 p.
GERUM, ISSN 1402-5205 ; 2006:2
Reconstructing, sparsely populated areas, tourism employment, forest-related employment, amenities, mobility, migration
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-793ISBN: 91-975696-5-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-793DiVA: diva2:144557
2006-06-02, S205h, samhällsvetarhuset, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 10:15
Saarinen, Jarkko, Professor
Wiberg, Ulf, ProfessorJansson, Bruno, LektorWestin, Kerstin, Docent
List of papers