Kerstin Enflo

Associate prof. Lund University Social science Year of admission: 2014

How did the Nordic economy become so strong?
Before industrialization, the Nordic countries were on the poor edges of Europe, but the region is now the world’s tenth strongest economy. As a Wallenberg Academy Fellow, Kerstin Enflo will investigate why the Nordic countries become so strong. How significant was the preindustrial period? How important have post-war public investments been?

In many countries, economic activities are concentrated to a few cities or regions, but what determines the growth of a strong economy? And what makes a strong economy a lasting one? Some researchers regard geographic location as being the most important factor. Often, large port cities continue having high levels of economic activity after the port has lost its significance. Other important factors are the region’s natural assets, climate and burden of disease. These factors are often persistent.

Associate Professor Kerstin Enflo, from the Lund School of Economics and Management, Lund University, will investigate the importance of these persistent factors, compared to other factors such as access to a market. For example, a market can change if a national boundary moves or a rail network is expanded. Targeted investments in infrastructure, for example electricity or access to IT, also play a role.

Kerstin Enflo will use the Nordic region as a model for understanding what drives a region’s economic development. She will create a database with Nordic economic and geographic data, including some information that dates back to 1571. The project will provide new knowledge of the history of the Nordic countries’ regional growth. Based on this, it will be easier to predict future developments. 


Photo: Johan Persson