Reports 2016/22

Immigrant women from the EU countries (except the Nordic countries) on the labour market

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One effect of the incorporation of eight Eastern European countries in the EU in 2004 was a large labour immigration to Norway. During the first years in particular male immigrants arrived, which has made an image of the EU-immigration as a very male dominated phenomenon. This report will, however, describe the women’s part of this immigration and their connection to the Norwegian labour market. Beside the immigration from Eastern Europe the smaller group of women from the Western -European countries are included in this report. Totally 158 737 immigrants from the EU-countries (except the Nordic countries) 15-74 years of age who arrived after 2004, were registered as residents in Norway at the end of 2013. The share of women among them was 35 per cent. Immigrants from eastern European countries constituted the dominating group, of almost 80 per cent. Of the 125 671 eastern EU- immigrants women constituted 34 per cent. Of the 33 066 western EU-immigrants, the share of women was 39 per cent.

Respectively 64 and 65.7 per cent of the western and eastern European women were employed. This was about 11 percentage points below the men’s level within both EU-groups. This gender disparity is due to the large shares of labour immigrants among men; 95 per cent (EU-east) and 81 per cent (EU-west), while labour immigrants among women constituted 56 and 40 per cent respectively. When looking at the labour immigrants only, the difference is only 3 percentage points in favour of men.

Women who arrive as family immigrants have a low employment level during their first three years in Norway, but the level raises strongly in the subsequent years. After five years of residence the gender disparity among immigrants from the EU-countries is about 5 percentage points, which is almost the same as in the majority population, i.e. the non-immigrants.

Women and men from the eastern EU-countries are quite different when it comes to educational level. Among women 48 per cent have fulfilled a university or college education, while the corresponding share among men was 26 per cent. Among men from eastern EU- countries upper secondary education is most common (52 per cent). Among western Europeans a large share of both men and women had a university and college-education, respectively 54 and 59 per cent.

Compared to women in the majority population, immigrant women from the eastern and western EU-countries had an employment rate which is 9 and 7 percentage points below. The period of residence in Norway reduces, however, this disparity. After 4 years of residence these immigrant women have an employment rate slightly above the majority women. This is due to the high educational level among the EU-women and a much larger share within the most occupational active age groups compared to the majority women.

The distribution on occupational groups among immigrant women from the western EU-countries is quite similar to the majority women’s, except for a larger share within professional occupations. This reflects the larger share of higher educated women compared to the majority. Women from the eastern EU-countries, on the contrary, have a different pattern. The share within professional occupations is smaller despite the large share of highly educated. As much as 35 per cent work within occupations without educational requirements, for instance cleaners. The corresponding shares among western European women and majority women were 9 and 4 per cent, respectively.

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