The STRING region comprises Hamburg and Schleswig- Holstein in Germany, the Zealand archipelago in Denmark, and Skåne in Southern Sweden. The region has 8.4 million inhabitants, which equals one tenth of the entire German population and 1.5 times the population of Denmark. The majority of STRING inhabitants, 4.5 million, live in Northern Germany; 2.6 million in East Denmark, and 1.3 in Southern Sweden.
The population of the STRING region has had an annual growth rate of 0.5 %, in the period from 2006-2013, which is above the EU annual average of 0.3 %. As in other parts of the world, population still centres towards the larger cities to a larger extent than to the rural areas. Population growth has been well above the national average for Hamburg and Copenhagen as well as for Malmö for the last decade.
With more than 40 universities employing 33.400 scientific staff and welcoming around 348.000 students, the STRING region has a strong knowledgebase. Most students do business and social sciences degrees, and technical educations.
In Sweden and Denmark, the welfare state is constructed by high taxes and low payment for public services such as childcare, healthcare and education. This makes it economically viable to place your child in childcare at a very low age. Consequently, the employment rate for women is one of the highest in the world, as are the taxes. In Germany, taxes are lower and public services are not free to the same extent as in Sweden and Denmark. Historically, the German employment rate for women has been lower than in Sweden and Denmark, but today it is on the same level as in Denmark due to the strong economic performance of the German economy in this millennium.
The development in employment has taken different directions in Germany, Denmark and Sweden since the financial crisis. In Germany, the financial crisis could hardly be seen at the employment level, and the number of employees has risen since 2009. Employment in Sweden follows the same path as that of Germany, with constant growth; the one exception being that the employment levels in Sweden fell more in 2009 (2 %) than it did in Germany. Employment levels in Germany as well as in Sweden have increased more than the EU average, but in Denmark, the employment has fallen more than the EU average. Employment continued to fall in Denmark in 2009 and 2010, but in 2014 the economy has regained enough strength to once again show growing employment levels.