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Mobilities, micro-urbanisation and changing settlement patterns in the sparsely populated North

Research project Here we focus on understanding the extent to which new mobility patterns have contributed to concentration of population to certain places in sparsely populated areas.

We use a regional perspective focused on statistical analysis and spatial mapping, and a local perspective focused on interviews with individual migrants and community stakeholders. This ascertains an integrated analysis of the extent and nature of mobilities and settlement change as well as an understanding of the underlying mobility drivers and settlement impacts at a local level.

Head of project

Linda Lundmark
Other position, associate professor

Project overview

Project period:

2016-01-01 2020-12-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Geography

Research area

Human geography

External funding


Project description


Economic change in society as a whole will have significance at the local and regional level in terms of concentration and distribution of population, also in Northern sparsely populated and rural areas. Little is known however, about immigration to and relocation within the sparse and peripheral northern parts of Sweden. We know that mobility from small villages to municipal centers has increased as well as lifestyle-related mobility from the larger cities to more remote places.


Problem description and purpose

In light of these different mobilities, the settlement patterns change in the long term. Certain areas in traditional resource peripheries can therefore increasingly be transformed into leisure peripheries for a growing urban population and attractive places can grow in sparsely populated areas. We wonder what the significance of these very different mobile populations is for development and population distribution and small-scale urbanization, so-called micro-urbanization, in the northern parts of Sweden?


The aim of the project is to study the mobility to and within Västerbotten and Norrbotten in order to understand how they change regional settlement patterns and functional settlement structures in northern Sweden. We want to increase the understanding of population development, small-scale urbanization and business change in Northern Sweden by studying and comparing characteristics, motivations, mobility patterns and local effects of several different types of mobility that collectively affect the regional population pattern.



We use both a broader descriptive perspective through statistical analysis and GIS, and a local and individual-focused perspective through in-depth case studies and interviews, thereby contributing to a comprehensive analysis of the scope and nature of changes at a broader regional level, as well as underlying causes and consequences at a local level.

External funding

Latest update: 2020-06-04