How incentives have struggled to attract residents to north Norway

Despite perks like lower taxes, discounted student loans and cheaper energy, not enough people are attracted to live in the north of Norway, experts have said.

Pictured are homes on the shore in Tromsø.
Lower taxes have struggled to attract enough people to northern Norway. Pictured are homes on the shore in Tromsø. Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

Measures to attract people to live and work in northern parts of Norway have largely failed, according to a new report

Lower student loans, income and employer taxes and cheaper energy have all failed to attract enough people and businesses to the region, the report commissioned by Vista Analyse and commissioned by the Ministry of Local Government and Districts found. 

In 1990, measures were introduced in Finnmark and seven municipalities in north Troms to combat high unemployment and lower living standards triggered by a fishing industry crisis. 

Despite the aim of the measures being to attract people to these areas, the population in the region where they were introduced has actually shrunk over the past 30 years. In 1990, 94,000 people lived in the area. Since then, the population has declined by around 1,200. 

“In real money (terms), the incentives have become less important to people. Over time, the measures have also lost interest in the news. They are ‘just there’ and are not very motivating,” Håkon Vennemo from Vista Analyse told public broadcaster NRK

Local Government and District Minister Sigbjørn Gjelsvik also acknowledged that the measures no longer had the desired effect. 

“The feedback I get from North-Troms and Finnmark is that the measures are appreciated but that there is a desire for them to be reinforced and more targeted,” Gjelsvik told NRK. 

The report recommended introducing several measures, such as increasing child support and lowering taxes on second homes in the area. It added that discontinuing the exemption from energy tax and using the money saved to improve other incentives. 

Tarjei Jensen Bech, county mayor in Troms og Finnmark, said that the report’s results weren’t surprising and proposed measures such as an extra week of holiday and ensuring that residents feel the north, where large parts to the east border Russia, feel safe and secure. 

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Norway is considering making small boat registration mandatory

The Norwegian government is considering making it compulsory to register all small boats in the country.

Norway is considering making small boat registration mandatory

There are an estimated one million recreational boats in Norway. Now, the government want stricter registration requirements for boat owners.

“We see that several organizations want a mandatory small boat register. There may be good reasons to introduce it in the interests of maritime safety and the fight against crime.

“Abandoned recreational boats can also be an environmental problem,” Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bjørnar Skjæran stated in a press release.

Today, registration is mandatory for boats longer than 15 metres. Furthermore, the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue (Redningsselskapet) also keeps a voluntary small boat register.

“It is high time to address the major pollution problem posed by old small boats. A mandatory small boat register will enable boats to be traced back to their owners and thus contribute to reducing the extent of abandoned small boats,” Climate and Environment Minister Espen Barth Eide warned.

“We will assess the effects and the possible arrangement of such a mandatory register and then make a decision,” Skjæran added.

The evaluation work will be a collaboration between multiple Norwegian ministries.