Norway took in the lowest number of immigrants in 12 years last year, as population growth fell as well. The country had a total of 5,328,000 residents as of January 1, according to new numbers from state statistics bureau SSB (Statistics Norway).
SSB reported that Norway’s population rose by just 32,000 people in 2018. That’s the weakest population growth since 2004, and it could have been negative without the immigration that did occur.
While birthrates are down, so is immigration. SSB reported that a total of 52,000 immigrants arrived in Norway last year, while 34,000 emigrated. That left the country with net immigration of just 18,000. Refugees from Syria made up the largest single group (3,800) of foreigners arriving in Norway in 2018,
Oil boom over
Immigration has fallen in Norway every year since 2012, when the country’s oil-fed economy was booming and around 80,000 people came to Norway. Net immigration at the time was around 47,000, more than twice the current level.
A total of 584,233 foreign citizens were living in Norway as of January 1, up by 17,000 a year earlier and making up around 11 percent of the total population. The vast majority are citizens of Poland, who make up 18 percent of the foreign population in Norway.
A total of 55,000 babies were born in Norway last year, meanwhile, the lowest level since 1987, while 41,000 people died. The birth surplus of 14,000 was down by 1,600 from the prior year.
Oslo claimed the most newcomers, and babies
Most of Norway’s modest population increase occurred in Oslo and its surrounding Akershus County, according to SSB, and it also had the largest birth surplus. More people died than were born in the counties of Hedmark, Oppland, Telemark, Sogn og Fjordane and Nordland. That accounted for the largest number of counties experiencing population decline since 2005.
The numbers are sure to be used in political debate, with immigration no longer posing such a challenge as the Progress Party has contended it is. Several political parties also believe Norway should take in more refugees than it does. The rural-oriented Center Party, meanwhile, will likely call for more support for Norway’s outlying districts, to keep them populated.