Johannes Klein in HELSINGIN SANOMAT INTERNATIONAL EDITION - METRO
In recent years, the population growth in Helsinki has clearly been based on migrants from abroad.
Last year alone, nearly 6,500 people moved into the Finnish capital from foreign countries, with around half of the immigrants coming from other EU countries, including Germany, Spain, Italy, and France.
”The relative share of migrants from Western Europe has increased rapidly”, notes senior statistician Pekka Vuori from the City of Helsinki's Urban Facts unit.
No research findings exist relating to the reasons for the population growth, but one of the factors contributing to the population gain could be the fact that the demand for workforce at Finland-based foreign companies continues to grow, reports Vuori.
According to advance information, the population of the capital rose by 1,031 individuals or by 0.2 per cent over the period from January through March. The majority of the growth, namely 773 individuals, came in the form of net migration gain from abroad.
The number of people moving to Helsinki from abroad has been rising year by year. In 2004, the number of immigrants moving to the capital was 4,200, whereas in 2006 it was 5,400, and last year already nearly 6,500 persons.
A large number of immigrants are still moving to Finland from Estonia and Russia, while the latest enlargement of the European Union does not reflect on the statistics as yet, as no major wave of migrants to Finland from Romania or Bulgaria has taken place.
Since 2005, the net migration gain from abroad has outnumbered both the country’s internal migration and increased birth rate.
The birth rate increased the Helsinki population only to a small degree over the first quarter of the current year, as the net increase from births over deaths was only 287 people.
Compared with the situation in other large cities, including Helsinki, Espoo, Turku, Tampere, and Oulu, Vantaa has benefited most from internal migration.
”The migration gain is based on the large number of people moving into Vantaa mainly from Helsinki and Espoo”, reports Manager Hannu Kyttälä from the City of Vantaa Statistics and Research.
For example in 2006, a total of 6,500 persons moved from Helsinki into Vantaa, while just 4,800 individuals moved to the capital from the neighbouring city.
In addition to somewhat cheaper homes and good transport connections, the attractions offered by Vantaa include the two new residential areas of Kartanonkoski and Pakkala in the immediate vicinity of the border between Helsinki and Vantaa.
Towards the end of the year, the population growth of Vantaa is likely to slow down, as the number of new residences going up is not sufficient to meet demand.
The estimated annual population growth in Espoo is some 3,500 inhabitants, but in 2007, the city’s population increased by just 3,000 individuals. Moreover, the number of new residences in Espoo was under 1,700, which is considerably fewer than previously.
”The price level in Espoo is approaching that in Helsinki”, says Research Manager Teuvo Savikko from the Espoo City Research and Development unit.
Savikko notes further that the city intends to look into the reasons why people are moving away from Espoo.
At the same time, Vantaa’s Kyttälä is contemplating the fact that many Helsinki residents moving towards the west reject Espoo and choose Kirkkonummi, some 30 kilometres west from the capital.
In Espoo, the majority of population growth is a result of the net birth rate. In 2007, the number of newborn babies was the major explanation for the population gain in the city.