Anders Härnbro, mayor of Finspång.
Depopulation a growing problem as people flee small towns and move to cities

Tough times for small industrial towns

The rate at which people are moving out of small towns in Sweden in favor of cities is higher than in any other country in Europe.

As a result, small industrial towns, particularly in the middle of Sweden, face tough economic times, according to the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions.

Finspång in Östergötland County - about two hours south of Stockholm - has succeeded in turning around the depopulation trend, but at a high cost, according to Mayor Anders Härnbro. Finspång residents have seen their local taxes hiked twice in recent years.

"It's connected to increased costs and investments," he told Swedish Radio.

Even though the technology group Siemens has hired almost 3,000 people in Finspång over the past five years, the municipality is hemorrhaging financially.

Investments in initiatives to attract new residents and visitors, such as the construction of a new water park, and increased costs to care for the elderly, for example, have prompted the municipality to raise local taxes twice in three years.

According to the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, 24 municipalities raised their taxes last year.

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