The Barents Region has a young and well-educated population, but dramatic demographic changes are rapidly approaching, not just in the rural areas but also in larger northern cities. Are young people moving to better opportunities in the south?

The industrialisation of northern regions was aided by mass immigration from the south. In most cases, development was based on different national policies to inhabit the territories as fast as possible. Nowadays ageing municipalities, dwindling population and increasing unemployment are becoming urgent problems. The migration of the young people from peripheral and remote areas to the south is a serious issue. Where are the young people going? The answer, apparently, is to a city with a better future.

The most significant reasons for youth migration are education, work, career, new experiences, living environment lack of influence and a diversity of cultural and life choices. Access to study opportunities is considered one of the most important factors. Many different regional institutions offer higher education in the Barents Region, and in total, there are 14 state universities, of which nine are Russian.

It is necessary for the Barents Region to improve its attractiveness for the young, for visitors and for immigrants. For future development, the demographic situation must be resolved, and education and employment strategies should be aimed specifically at the younger generation. Perhaps migration from the region can be transformed into migration within the Barents Region?

Source: Anne Soininen, 2002. To a Town with a Better Future - Young People and Their Future Orientations in the Barents Region.