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Differential urbanisation in Finland

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The purpose of this paper is to examine the process of urbanisation in Finland over a long time span 1941–98 in the light of the theoretical model of differential urbanisation, at the same time testing the applicability of the latter to the Finnish situation. Urbanisation began in Finland relatively late by comparison with other European countries, but the process has taken place all the more rapidly. Urbanisation started out from large cities, and in the case of the capital, Helsinki, the early primate city stage began before 1940. Features of the stages outlined in the model are identifiable in the process of urbanisation as it has taken place in Finland. The urban system in Finland progressed in the mid 1970s to the small–sized city stage, when polarisation reversal came to an end and counter–urbanisation set in. The net migration balance of cities and towns became negative in 1977, i.e. they began to lose population to rural communes. This was the first real period of the clean break and it continued to the 1980s. In 1980 the net migration balance for large cities was positive but it changed back to negative in the beginning of the 1980s. Population concentration in the few large cities in Finland started again in the 1990s. Spatial differences in urbanisation are also observable at the local level which have been exemplified by the province of Uusimaa in Southern Finland, regional analyses for Southern and Southeastern Finland and Kainuu county in Northern Finland.
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Keywords: Finland; Urbanisation; city stages; migration; regional development; rural areas

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Migration, Turku, Finland

Publication date: 2003-02-01

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