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Project: DEMIFER [concluded]

Demographic and Migratory Flows affecting European Regions and Cities

The aim of the research project Demographic and Migratory Flows affecting European Regions and Cities (DEMIFER) was to assess future changes in population growth, the size of the labour force and the ageing of the population in European regions, and to explore different policy options aiming at regional competitiveness and territorial cohesion. DEMIFER was initiated and funded by the ESPON 2013 programme. The project was carried out by a consortium of seven European research institutes led by NIDI. The project started in July 2008 and was completed at the end of 2010.

As it is uncertain to what extent territorial policies will be effective DEMIFER examined a number of policy scenarios based on alternative assumptions about 1) future developments in economic trends, innovation and climate change, and 2) the implementation and effectiveness of regional cohesion policies. Scenarios in which policies will succeed to narrow regional disparities were compared with scenarios in which well-off regions benefit more than regions which are lagging behind. As point of reference for the policy scenarios DEMIFER calculated three reference scenarios: a 'status quo' and two 'no migration' scenarios. The status quo scenario assumed a continuation of recent demographic regimes until 2050. The first 'no migration' scenario assumed free movement within Europe, but no migration to and from the rest of the world, while the second 'no migration' scenario was an extreme version of "Fortress Europe" where all countries and regions are assumed to close their borders to migration, i.e. for both international and internal migration; this was a natural increase only scenario.

The main conclusions of DEMIFER were: 1) Even though population ageing will affect all European regions, different regions will be affected in different ways. Even under favourable conditions, 35 to 40 per cent of all NUTS2 regions will face labour force decline. 2) Demographic ageing will be much more extreme than hitherto experienced in all regions. 3) Migration is beneficial for affluent regions and will increase regional disparities. 4) To keep regions prosperous (maintaining competitiveness) and to avoid worsening of inequality (maintaining cohesion), policy makers should find ways to cope with these challenges through new fiscal and social policies, although policies directly affecting demographic and migratory trends may be needed too.

Change in population 2005-2050- Scenarios


Beer, J. de & N. van der Gaag (eds.) (2011),
Groei en krimp van Europese regio's. Themanummer Demos, bulletin over bevolking en samenleving 27 (3), 16 p. [pdf]
Beer, J. de, N. van der Gaag, R. van der Erf et al. (2010),
DEMIFER; Demographic and Migratory Flows affecting European Regions and Cities, ESPON 2013 Applied Research, Final report. Luxembourg: European Union, 72 p. [pdf]
Erf, R. van der, J. de Beer & N. van der Gaag (2010),
Report on effects of demographic and migratory flows on European regions. Report prepared for the European Union within the ESPON 2013 project DEMIFER, Demographic and Migratory Flows affecting European Regions and Cities.

All DEMIFER output is available on:

NIDI Research team

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