A new survey suggests that six out of every 10 Norwegians now views immigration as positive for the country, a big increase from the numbers just last year. City dwellers were more positive than those living in rural areas.
The survey, conducted by research firm Sentio for newspaper Nationen, indicated that 61 percent of Norwegians are favourable towards immigration. That’s up from 46 percent polled in a similar survey last year.
The new survey showed that just 23 percent of Norwegians oppose immigration, with those living in small rural communities emerging as the most skeptical.
There have been plenty of outlying areas, however, that have embraced immigration, for example in the mountains of Telemark, where immigrants from Somalia have become well-integrated into one local village. Entire communities of immigrants from the Netherlands also have been welcome in small towns that were experiencing depopulation.
Nationen reported that Salad Ahmed Hussein, who arrived in Norway in 2002, now speaks fluent Norwegian, lives in the small township of Gjemnes in Nordmøre, works in an after-school program and says he has never experienced any racism in Norway.
“I’m very happy here,” he told Nationen. “It’s much easier to learn the language and be integrated when you live in a small place, because more people talk to you than in a bigger city.”
Younger Norwegians are more positive towards immigration than their elders, as are Norwegians with high levels of education, according to the survey. Norwegians who have not gone to college or university were more negative towards the arrival of foreign immigrants.
Fully 95 percent of those who say they vote for the Socialist Left party (SV) were positive towards immigration, while those voting for the Progress Party were most skeptical, with less than half viewing immigration as positive.
Women tended to be slightly more positive towards immigration than men in the survey, while skepticism about immigration was higher in northern Norway than in other parts of the country.