Immigrants finally gain more respect

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Attitudes towards immigrants and immigration are steadily becoming more positive in Norway, according to a new study by state statistics bureau SSB (Statistics Norway). More than 70 percent of Norwegians now also think that most immigrants enrich both working and cultural life.

Debate continues over immigration, like here on state broadcaster NRK in 2018, but SSB’s surveys show increasingly positive attitudes towards immigrants among Norwegians. NRK itself has contributed to making minorities much more visible with their voices heard. PHOTO: NRK screen grab

Fully 40 percent “strongly agree” that most immigrants make positive contributions to working life in Norway, up from 29 percent in 2011. Only 2 percent “strongly disagreed,” while just 5 percent think immigrants are a source of insecurity in Norwegian society.

Surveys conducted by SSB into Norwegian attitudes in recent years “have shown increasingly more positive attitudes towards immigrants, and this trend continues also this year,” wrote SSB researchers in a new report released this week. It noted that the changes this year are also “larger and more significant” than those in previous surveys.

That means “more and more” Norwegians think immigrants “make a useful contribution in working life and that immigrants should have the same opportunities for work as Norwegians.” Fewer Norwegians think most immigrants abuse the social welfare system, and even fewer view them as a source of insecurity.

The survey also shows that fewer Norwegians are skeptical towards having close relations with immigrants, also “as a new neighbour or as a son- or daughter-in-law.” Many Norwegians already have much closer relations with immigrants as job colleagues, friends and acquaintances, and that’s likely to have contributed to a decline in prejudice.

“We see that contact with immigrants is becoming more extensive,” wrote SSB. “Most of those in contact with immigrants state that their experience with this contact is mainly positive.”

Women and those with high levels of education are generally more positive towards immigrants than men and those with lower levels of education, according to SSB’s figures. Young Norwegians are more liberal than older. There are also differences between people living in urban and rural areas. Those responding to the survey who live in more densely populated areas “are often more positively disposed” towards immigrants, while respondents in less densely populated areas tend to be more skeptical. That’s attributed to city dwellers having more frequent contact with immigrants, and because the population in urban areas is generally more highly educated.

One aspect of surveys conducted in 2011, 2019 and 2020 has remained steady: A majority of those questioned wants “the possibility” for refugees and asylum seekers to obtain residence in Norway “to remain as it is today.” SSB noted how that’s been the case for many years, but “we do see the share thinking that it should become easier to gain residence increasing, while the share thinking it should become harder decreasing.”

For more details on SSB’s figures, click here (external link to SSB’s own website).

NewsInEnglish.no/Nina Berglund