Norwegians continue to have a more positive impression of immigrants, according to the latest national survey conducted by state statistics bureau SSB. More think it should be easier for asylum seekers to settle down in Norway and that immigrants make a useful contribution to the workforce, while most immigrants themselves are satisfied with life in their adopted country, except those from Poland.
SSB confirmed this week what many have suspected: Attitudes towards immigration continue to improve. News bureau NTB reported that while only 12 percent of Norwegians supported more liberal asylum rules last year, that number rose to 16 percent this year. Around half of all Norwegians think asylum criteria should continue as now, while 28 percent think it should become more restrictive. The latter number, however, is half of what it was as late as 2003.
“If you look at developments over time,” SSB researcher Svein Blom told NTB, “the portion of the population that wanted tighter rules on asylum was 56 percent in 2003.” Blom noted that it has fallen steadily ever since.
Making a contribution
The numbers of Norwegians who agreed in the survey that “most immigrants make a useful contribution to the workforce” rose by five percentage points this year, from 66- to 71 percent of the population. Those agreeing that “most immigrants are a source of insecurity in society” fell by the same amount, to 27 percent.
Fully 68 percent of Norwegians questioned agreed that most immigrants also enrich cultural life in Norway. Nearly 80 percent responded that they had contact with immigrants, up from 72 percent in 2016. Those who disliked the prospect of having an immigrant as their neighbor fell, from 6 percent last year to just 4 percent this year.
The survey showed that young Norwegians were the most positive to immigration. “Attitudes vary in accordance with the backgrounds of those questioned,” Blom told NTB. “Education levels and contact with immigrants are among the factors that mean the most.” Norwegians with higher education and a broad network of contacts tend to have more liberal views of immigration, he said.
Most immigrants stick around
Nearly 1.3 million people have emigrated to Norway since 1990. SSB reported that 73 percent of them still live in the country. Around 60 percent come from countries outside the Nordic region. Of them, 10 percent came as students, 20 percent as refugees, 33 percent came to work in Norway and 36 percent came because they’d married a Norwegian or wanted to be reunited with family.
Most immigrants still come from Poland, followed by Lithuania, Germany, Somalia and the Philippines. Most of those arriving as refugees came from Somalia, Eritrea, Syria and Iraq.
Another survey conducted by SSB shows that Somalian immigrants were the most satisfied with life in Norway. One of them, Marian A Hussein, told newspaper Aftenposten that she thinks Somalians fleeing war or refugee camps “know what they’re coming from, and then it’s easy to be satisfied with new opportunities in Norway.”
Hussein works as a nurse in a psychiatric institution, leads a commission on inclusion for the Socialist Left party (SV) and is a member of SV’s national board. She’s one of 40,000 people with Somalian background in Norway and is happy herself. “When you’ve been at the bottom, there’s only one way to go, and that’s up,” she told Aftenposten.
SSB’s survey questioned 4,500 immigrants or people born in Norway to immigrant parents. Those from Poland were the least satisfied. “They have good economy, but lack a feeling of belonging in Norway,” SSB’s project leader Kjersti Stabell Wiggen told Aftenposten. “They score high on maintaining ties to their land of origin, and few plan to remain in Norway, in contrast to those from other countries.”