Institute for Futures Studies

Stockholm, Sweden

Institute for Futures Studies

Stockholm, Sweden
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Gallos L.K.,City College of New York | Rybski D.,City College of New York | Rybski D.,Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research | Liljeros F.,University of Stockholm | And 3 more authors.
Physical Review X | Year: 2012

The study of human interactions is of central importance for understanding the behavior of individuals, groups, and societies. Here, we observe the formation and evolution of networks by monitoring the addition of all new links, and we analyze quantitatively the tendencies used to create ties in these evolving online affiliation networks. We show that an accurate estimation of these probabilistic tendencies can be achieved only by following the time evolution of the network. Inferences about the reason for the existence of links using statistical analysis of network snapshots must therefore be made with great caution. Here, we start by characterizing every single link when the tie was established in the network. This information allows us to describe the probabilistic tendencies of tie formation and extract meaningful sociological conclusions. We also find significant differences in behavioral traits in the social tendencies among individuals according to their degree of activity, gender, age, popularity, and other attributes. For instance, in the particular data sets analyzed here, we find that women reciprocate connections 3 times as much as men and that this difference increases with age. Men tend to connect with the most popular people more often than women do, across all ages. On the other hand, triangular tie tendencies are similar, independent of gender, and show an increase with age. These results require further validation in other social settings. Our findings can be useful to build models of realistic social network structures and to discover the underlying laws that govern establishment of ties in evolving social networks.

News Article | April 20, 2016

The houses of Narsaq gleam in a cheerful riot of blues, reds and yellows. The crayon-coloured town spills across a hill that separates barren mountains from a fjord filled with icebergs. But up close, grimmer details come into focus; the paint on many homes is peeling, and few signs of life stir in the narrow streets. Established as a trading post in 1830, Narsaq long served as a hub of Greenland's fishing industry — the backbone of its economy. But in the past few decades, modernization has moved much of the fishing offshore, and many jobs in Narsaq have disappeared. The town's 1,500 residents have been struggling to find a way forward. The same could be said of Greenland at large. Part of the kingdom of Denmark since 1814, Greenland has transformed over the past century from a society based on subsistence hunting and fishing to one built around an industrial economy and a Nordic-style welfare system. But that rapid development has stalled, leaving communities such as Narsaq to grapple with economic stagnation and high rates of unemployment. At the same time, Greenland has sought to overcome its economic and political dependence on Denmark. “I don't know any people — any country — who don't want self-determination, who don't want independence in the world,” says Hjalmar Dahl, president of the Greenlandic branch of the Inuit Circumpolar Council. Some 80% of Greenland's population is Inuit. Over the past 35 years, Greenland has gained increasing control over its internal affairs — it was granted self rule in 2009 — but it continues to receive Danish subsidies that account for roughly one-third of its gross domestic product (GDP). To gain true independence, it will have to generate almost US$1 billion in additional revenues — all from a population of just 56,000 people on an island with only 150 kilometres of roads and an ice sheet about 3 times the size of Texas. But Greenlandic leaders see promise in places like Narsaq. Geological studies of the rugged peaks outside town have identified valuable deposits of rare-earth metals, uranium and zinc; a major mine is approaching the final stages of obtaining a permit. These are just some of many such deposits that have attracted the attention of international mining companies, and which proponents say could usher in a new era of prosperity. Researchers and some residents have challenged the idea that Greenland can mine its way to independence. A bitter debate has erupted over the social and environmental impacts that mining will have on one of the last pristine parts of the planet. Now, leaders are looking for opportunities — and investors — to expand other industries such as tourism and agriculture, as well as ways to optimize Greenland's vast fishing sector. The government must juggle these goals while contending with climate change, which threatens traditional ways of life and potentially bolsters new ones. Whatever route Greenland chooses to follow, researchers say that it needs to start paving the way now. Even if the island forgoes full political independence, Danish subsidies will remain fixed at 2009 levels, adjusted for inflation, and the funds will not help to cover the rising costs of Greenland's ageing population or to sustain small towns like Narsaq. “It is a very urgent problem because Greenland already runs at a deficit,” says Minik Rosing, a geologist at the University of Copenhagen who is well known in Greenland for his work on the island's future. Unless something changes, he says, “everything points toward the situation getting worse rather than better”. Narsaq's name means 'plain' in Kalaallisut, the official language of Greenland, probably because the town occupies the flattest piece of land in sight. Mountains rise on all sides, their summits dulled by millions of years of glacial erosion. The inland ice sheet lurks just over the horizon, leaving only a thin ribbon of ice-free terrain. But what little exposed land there is happens to be rich in minerals (see 'Mineral futures'). The crust here is ancient — up to 3.8 billion years old, in places — and has seen many cycles of volcanism and rifting. These brought metal-rich fluids close to the surface, where they formed deposits. The island also has substantial offshore oil and gas resources that could come into play if fuel prices rise or exploration costs drop. Interest in the minerals has grown over the past decade, thanks to a confluence of forces. Greenland gained the right to manage and profit from its mineral deposits in 2009, just as the global appetite for many metals started rising. Politicians quickly pointed to mining as the best, and perhaps only, way to offset Danish subsidies and make statehood possible. At the moment, many have their eye on the Kvanefjeld deposit near Narsaq, a contender to host Greenland's first major mine. The resource there is “potentially huge”, says Kathryn Goodenough, a geologist with the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh. She works with EURARE, an initiative to develop Europe's rare-earth potential that brings together researchers and mining companies such as Greenland Minerals and Energy (GME), the Australian company behind the Kvanefjeld project. GME has been exploring here since 2007 and has studied core samples from hundreds of holes drilled into the nearby mountains over the years. “It's like Swiss cheese up there,” says Ib Laursen, a company representative based in Narsaq. GME has estimated that the rocks above the town hold approximately 11 million tonnes of rare-earth oxides and that Kvanefjeld is one of the largest rare-earth deposits outside China. Another company is seeking to develop the Kringlerne deposit across the fjord, which it calls a world-class reserve of rare earths and other metals. Until mining starts, it is not clear whether these deposits will prove as extraordinary as the companies contend, says Rosing. But the geologist, who grew up on a reindeer farm outside the Greenlandic capital, Nuuk, is optimistic about the future of the island's mining industry. “Greenland is exceptional, it is large,” he says. “I think with enough effort, there will be definitely something happening.” Like many Narsaq residents, Mariane Paviasen desperately hopes that the mining boom doesn't start at Kvanefjeld. She works for Air Greenland, greeting the handful of helicopter flights that touch down on Narsaq's blustery landing pad. Her house, at the top of a narrow road on the far side of the town, is bright and inviting on a sunny day in September. Some oppose the mine because it would bring an influx of foreign workers, but Paviasen is most worried about the uranium in the deposit, which GME plans to extract and sell along with the rare-earth elements. It's what first brought Narsaq to the attention of scientists, including Niels Bohr, who visited in 1957 as part of Denmark's investigations into atomic energy. The country later banned all nuclear activity, including uranium mining, and Paviasen wishes that Greenland had upheld the tradition. “I think it is very dangerous stuff — the most dangerous stuff in the world,” she says. That's why, in late 2014, she helped to found a citizens' group called Urani Naamik, or No to Uranium. GME's current plans call for an open-pit mine on top of the plateau, about 10 kilometres from town. Paviasen's group has highlighted the potential risks from uranium to human and environmental health, through water pollution and dust exposure. “My husband and my sons and my father — they like to go out and catch some food,” Paviasen says. But she wouldn't eat it if mining began. Others, including environmental organizations in Denmark, have cited the dangers of the radioactive thorium in the deposits, which currently has little commercial value, and of fluorine-containing minerals that can acidify water. Such concerns have fuelled a heated dispute over how to balance the economic benefits of exploiting Greenland's natural resources with the environmental risks. GME insists that Kvanefjeld can be mined safely. The company says that it is considering ways to contain the thorium, and that it will lock up fluorine by converting it into a marketable mineral. “That's a part of the demand from the government — to use best practices,” Laursen says. Studies have found1 that modern techniques for managing tailings can minimize the contamination risk, at least in the short term. The technical details of GME's plans, however, won't be revealed until the Environmental Impact Assessment report comes out later this year. Economic forces may be the biggest barrier to Greenland's mineral plans: the prices of rare earths and other metals have slumped after reaching all-time highs in 2011. “The simple reality is, it doesn't look good,” says Tim Boersma, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, who co-authored a 2014 report2 on Greenland's mining potential. Greenland would need about 24 major mines operating simultaneously to replace the Danish subsidy, according to a 2014 joint report3 by the University of Copenhagen and the University of Greenland in Nuuk that assessed how the island's mineral resources might shape its future. Given what is known about the deposits, that would be a tall order even in good economic times, says Rosing, who chaired the committee that wrote the report. “The dream that mining could be a quick fix for the economy — that's not going to happen,” he says. As the results of the report have sunk in, talk of political independence has dwindled. Many Greenlanders realize that the process will take time, and Rosing says that some young people have started to question the benefits of completely severing ties with Denmark. In their view, he says, “a nation of 56,000 people is maybe not the best way of ensuring that individuals in Greenland can shape their own future”. Disappointments in the mining sector have spurred discussion about diversifying the strategy for economic self-sufficiency. Rosing suggests that Greenland should devise other ways to profit from what makes it unique. He is exploring the possibility of marketing rock flour — the fine powder created by glacial erosion — as a source of nutrients and neutralizing agents for tropical soils. And he says that Greenland should court industries that would benefit from its cold climate, such as computer-server farms, which use enormous amounts of energy for cooling. Greenland has begun harnessing its torrents of glacial melt water to produce renewable energy. The island has 5 hydropower plants, and government estimates suggest that it has enough untapped potential to produce 800,000 gigawatt hours of energy per year — more than the total used by the United Kingdom and France combined. The aluminium producer Alcoa, based in New York City, has considered building a smelter to capitalize on the cheap energy and, in 2010, Greenland's national energy company launched a pilot project using hydropower to produce clean-burning hydrogen fuel. For the moment, however, those options are largely prospects for the future. Today, about 40% of Greenland's workers are employed by the public sector and 90% of its export economy revolves around fishing, particularly for northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis) and Greenland halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides). Although catches remain good, west Greenland's shrimp stocks have declined over the past decade, perhaps influenced by climate change. According to Helle Siegstad, director of fish and shellfish at the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources in Nuuk, the culprit could be Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), a predator that could benefit from warming near Greenland and has started to reappear after being overfished. Another factor behind the shrimp's decline might be that climate change has caused a mismatch between their hatching time and the blooms of phytoplankton that they eat4. But higher water temperatures have also lured new species north, such as Atlantic mackerel, Atlantic herring and even some bluefin tuna5, says Brian MacKenzie, a marine ecologist at the Technical University of Denmark in Kongens Lyngby. In recent years, temperatures off the coast of east Greenland have become warm enough for tuna, MacKenzie says. “It's basically a whole new habitat.” Siegstad says that the fishing fleet has been quick to pounce on these opportunities, and she is optimistic that changes in marine ecosystems will ultimately benefit Greenland's fishing industry. But even so, she worries about the island's overwhelming dependence on this variable, uncontrollable resource. “We are so sensitive,” she says. “I hope we will have something else.” Thirty minutes by boat from Narsaq, Kalista Poulsen and Agathe Devisme share 10 hectares of land with 300 head of sheep. Compared with the surrounding tundra, their grassy farm is lush. Purple wildflowers and Angelica archangelica — a popular medicinal herb — line their carefully manicured fields. The couple is part of Greenland's budding agricultural industry — one of several small sectors of the economy that the island's leaders are trying to expand. Agriculture currently accounts for less than 1% of Greenland's GDP, but that figure could grow thanks to climate change, which has boosted temperatures in the south by almost 2 °C over the past few decades. Modelling work6 by Jens Christensen and others at the Danish Meteorological Institute in Copenhagen suggests that if the world warms according to some of the most dramatic projections, the length of the growing season in southern Greenland will more than double. But the climate is likely to become more variable, too. Already, a string of dry summers has forced farmers to import extra supplies of hay from abroad, supplementing the feed that they grow to get the animals through the long, brutal winter. This has left them wondering whether climate change will help or hurt them, says Devisme. “For the moment, it's more, kind of, disturbing.” To supplement their farming income, Devisme also runs a small bed and breakfast, where visitors come to relax or to fish for Arctic char in the stream behind the fields. Many Greenlanders see the island's nascent tourism industry as a welcome alternative to exploitative activities such as the mining at Kvanefjeld, which Devisme says poses a threat to her businesses. In 2013, the government counted roughly 35,000 visitors, who contributed around 3% of GDP. Greenland hopes to ramp up adventure tourism, such as hiking and kayaking, and boost cruise-ship traffic — a pattern that has succeeded in Iceland. The consulting firm Ramboll, based in Orestad, Denmark, has projected that the tourism industry could more than double by 2025, although this would require strong investment in infrastructure such as hotels and airports, as well as increased marketing and international cooperation. But, if Greenland is to benefit from these industries, its people must have the skills to work in them. Developing the island's human capital may be the key to Greenland's success, according to a 2013 report7 by the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies. Today, although many Greenlanders possess a wealth of informal knowledge, only 35% of students go beyond compulsory school, which they finish at age 15 or 16. The government aims to boost the number continuing with their training, and the plan starts with strengthening elementary education. The residents of Narsaq are doing their part. Here, late on a Sunday afternoon, workers bustle around a fenced-off construction site in the centre of town. A crane swings overhead, hoisting wooden beams onto a tower of scaffolding, where crews are renovating the red-panelled school. It will soon boast a wall of windows, giving Narsaq's children a grand view of the mineral-rich mountains, the ice-choked fjord and their own small town — as it lurches forward into Greenland's uncertain future.

Juarez S.P.,Lund University | Juarez S.P.,Institute for Futures Studies | Revuelta-Eugercios B.A.,Lund University | Revuelta-Eugercios B.A.,Institute National dEtudes Demographiques
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health | Year: 2014

Background: Studies have shown that immigrants residing in Spain have lower risks of delivering low birthweight (LBW) and preterm babies despite their socioeconomic disadvantages (the healthy migrant paradox). However, less is known about other important perinatal outcomes derived from birth weight and gestational age such as macrosomia and post-term birth. This paper aims to compare the main indicators related to birth weight and gestational age (LBW, macrosomia, preterm and post-term) for immigrants and Spaniards. Methods: Cross-sectional study based on the Spanish vital statistics for years 2009-2011. Multinomial regression models were performed to obtain crude and adjusted ORs and their 95% CIs. Results: After adjusting for known confounders, compared with Spaniards, most immigrant groups show lower or not significantly different risks of delivering LBW (OR between 0.65 and 0.87) or, more exceptionally, preterm babies (between 0.75 and 0.93). However, most of them also show higher risks of delivering macrosomic (OR between 1.21 and 2.58) and post-term babies (OR between 1.11 and 1.50). Mothers from sub-Saharan Africa show a higher risk in all perinatal outcomes studied. Conclusions: The immigrant health paradox should be carefully assessed in comprehensive terms. Together with a predominantly lower risk of LBW, most immigrants have a higher risk of macrosomia, post-term and preterm births. These results have policy-making implications since studying the right tail of the birth weight and gestational age distributions implies considering a different set of risk factors.

Fridlund V.,University of Stockholm | Stenqvist K.,Gothenburg University | Nordvik M.K.,Institute for Futures Studies
Scandinavian Journal of Public Health | Year: 2014

Aim: The overall aim of this paper is to examine sexually active young people's behavioral expectations of condom use.Methods: We collected data at nine youth clinics and one sexually transmitted infections (STI) clinic in Sweden. We included participants whom had been sexually active during the past 12 months: A total of 1022 participants between the ages of 15 and 31 were included. We analyzed the data separately, for different types of sexual practices and types of sexual partners. Multinomial logistic regression was used to analyze age and gender differences for discrepancies.Results: The behavioral expectation of condom use differed, depending on the type of sexual practice and the type of partner. For all types of sex, the overall pattern showed that the participants were most likely to use a condom with a casual unknown partner, followed by a casual known partner, regular partner and lastly, a main partner. Our results also demonstrated that there is a discrepancy between the behavioral expectation of condom use and the self-reported condom use. The lowest discrepancy was for oral sex, especially with a main partner, and the largest discrepancy was for anal sex and vaginal sex with a casual partner.Conclusions: Our results imply that the participants had a greater expectation of condom use than actually occurs, especially for casual unknown partners. There is a lack of knowledge about the risks associated with oral sex, which is evident in the results of the participants' behavioral expectations of condom use under those conditions. © 2014 the Nordic Societies of Public Health.

Backman O.,Institute for Futures Studies | Ferrarini T.,University of Stockholm
Journal of Social Policy | Year: 2010

This study analyses the links between family policy institutions and poverty in households with pre-school children in 21 old and new welfare democracies. New institutional information which enables a separation of different family policy dimensions is combined with micro data from the Luxembourg Income Study. Through statistical multilevel modelling, individual- and country-level data are combined in a simultaneous analysis of their relationships to child poverty risks. The results show that family policy transfers are related to lower child poverty risks at the micro level. However, the mechanisms by which such transfers reduce poverty vary by type of family support. Support to dual-earner families operates by enabling both parents to work and raise market income, while support to more traditional family structures in some instances has a more direct effect on poverty risks. The analysis also renders support to the hypothesis that dual-earner transfers also alleviate poverty most effectively among single-mother households. © Cambridge University Press 2009.

Mood C.,Institute for Futures Studies | Mood C.,University of Stockholm
Journal of European Social Policy | Year: 2015

We question the common description of poverty in Western countries as largely brief and transient and show that the spell-based analyses from which this view stems diverts attention from the bulk of poverty, which is persistent rather than transient. Measures of poverty concentration are suggested. Using Swedish population data spanning 18 years (1990–2007, N (persons*years) = 102,754,809), we can avoid problems that plague poverty research using survey data and can give precise calculations of completed durations without relying on questionable assumptions. The majority of poverty years were experienced by people in long-term poverty: 69 percent of all poverty years over the 18-year period fell on people with 5 years or more in poverty. Half of all poverty years were borne by only 5 percent of the population, meaning that poverty was highly concentrated. This speaks in favour of the social policy efficiency in targeting a small group of long-term poor. © 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.

Niedomysl T.,Institute for Futures Studies | Hansen H.K.,Lund University
Environment and Planning A | Year: 2010

Highly skilled workers are increasingly recognised as a key competitive asset for regional development, and claims have been made that emphasise the importance of certain amenities for the prospects of attracting this particular group of workers. We use a recent large-scale survey to investigate the relative importance of jobs versus amenities for the decision to migrate, as perceived by the migrants themselves. The paper thereby adds important insights to the existing literature that has hitherto mainly focused on analysing the extent to which aggregate migration flows correlate with employment-related or amenity-related factors. The results show that jobs are considerably more important for the decision to move among highly educated migrants compared with migrants with lower education. © 2010 Pion Ltd and its Licensors.

Lindahl K.B.,Institute for Futures Studies | Westholm E.,Institute for Futures Studies
Forests | Year: 2011

This paper presents a futures study of international forest trends. The study, produced as part of the Swedish Future Forest program, focuses on global changes of importance for future Swedish forest use. It is based on previous international research, policy documents, and 24 interviews with selected key experts and/or actors related to the forest sector, and its findings will provide a basis for future research priorities. The forest sector, here defined as the economic, social, and cultural contributions to life and human welfare derived from forest and forest-based activities, faces major change. Four areas stand out as particularly important: changing energy systems, emerging international climate policies, changing governance systems, and shifting global land use systems. We argue that global developments are, and will be, important for future Swedish forest use. The forest sector is in transition and forest-, energy, climate- and global land use issues are likely to become increasingly intertwined. Therefore, the "forest sector" must be disembedded and approached as an open system in interplay with other systems. © 2011 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Engwall K.,Institute for Futures Studies
Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research | Year: 2014

Abstract: This article discusses voluntary childlessness and reaching adulthood in Sweden, focusing on childfree women and men with intellectual disabilities (IDs). The article is based on interviews with 19 childfree individuals, four of whom had IDs. It focuses on motives for voluntary childlessness, with three types of motives being mentioned only by the interviewees with IDs; namely the difficulties of parenthood and of building relations with children, the risk of heredity and the maliciousness of children. The interviews have been analysed with relevance to power axes of gender, age and abilities, and these three motives may be seen as results of the interviewees' ascribed position as intellectually disabled and of the segregation in society between able and disabled individuals. The article also includes a discussion about how to achieve ‘adult status’ when parenthood is ruled out. Other issues in everyday life seem more important than parenthood, according to the individuals with IDs. © 2013 Nordic Network on Disability Research.

NIEDOMYSL T. How migration motives change over migration distance: evidence on variation across socio-economic and demographic groups, Regional Studies. Migration researchers have long known that the motives for changing place of residence vary over migration distance. Typically, short-distance moves are regarded as motivated by housing considerations and longer-distance moves primarily by employment considerations. Using a large-scale survey on migration motives, this paper explores how migration motives change over migration distance. Particular attention is paid to variations across socio-economic and demographic groups. The results show that the housing-versus employment-driven migration dichotomy, over short and long distances, respectively, is still somewhat valid, though the present findings give a much more nuanced interpretation. The paper reveals considerable variation in migration motives, not only over migration distance, but also particularly in relation to migrant socio-economic and demographic characteristics. © 2011 Regional Studies Association.

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