Reports 2016/41

Attitudes towards immigrants and immigration 2016

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The latest survey of attitudes towards immigrants and immigration shows changes in several indicators of attitudes compared to last year. This is the case for the granting of residence permits to refugees, performance of immigrants in the labour market, immigrants as a source of social insecurity, and the value of their cultural contribution. The changes all have rather a critical orientation. There is also a small decline in the proportion claiming to have contact with immigrants. This is the first survey of attitudes conducted by Statistics Norway after the surge of asylum seekers last autumn. Data was collected in July and August 2016.

In answer to the question whether it should be easier for refugees and asylum seekers to obtain a residence permit, 12 per cent answered in the affirmative, 51 per cent said that access to permits should remain the same as today, and 33 per cent answered that it should be more difficult. The corresponding figures for last year are 15, 50 and 29 per cent respectively.

The proportion agreeing fully or on the whole that “most immigrants make an important contribution to Norwegian working life” went down 7 percentage points, while the proportion agreeing fully that “all immigrants in Norway should have the same job opportunities as Norwegians” decreased by 8 percentage points. There was also a decline of 8 percentage points in the proportion who “fully agrees” that labour immigration from non-Nordic countries makes a mainly positive contribution to the Norwegian economy. Regarding the latter two statements, there was an increase in the share answering “agree on the whole” of 7 and 5 percentage points respectively, which softened the degree of change. There are now 66 per cent who think immigrants make an important contribution to working life, 86 per cent who think immigrants should have equal job opportunities, and 63 per cent who believe that labour immigration from non-Nordic countries contributes positively to the Norwegian economy.

The survey moreover showed an increase of 6 percentage points in the share agreeing fully or on the whole that “most immigrants represent a source of insecurity in society”. Thirty-two per cent are of that opinion, while 54 per cent disagree.

The share agreeing fully or on the whole that “most immigrants enrich the cultural life in Norway” fell by 5 percentage points, while the share agreeing that “immigrants in Norway should endeavour to become as similar to Norwegians as possible” increased by 7 percentage points. Sixty-seven per cent now feel that immigrants enrich the culture, and 51 per cent think they should resemble Norwegians as much as possible.

The share claiming to have contact with immigrants fell 6 percentage points to 72 per cent. Fewer say they have contact with immigrants “at work” or “in close family relations”. Empirically, we know that these figures tend to fluctuate. Of those who have contact, fewer are also reporting daily contact.

A multivariate analysis shows the correlation between different background factors and the most important attitude indicators. Gender, educational level and contact appear to be the most important background factors. Liberal attitudes are more common among women, those with a higher education and those with a wide range of contacts. Being male, poorly educated and lacking immigrant contacts shows the opposite trend.

Political preferences are now included in background factors. Established notions of the parties’ degree of immigrant-friendliness are reflected in the attitudes of their respective supporters.

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