Reports 2021/02

Emigration and re-immigration of persons born in Norway

This publication is in Norwegian only.

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The aim of this study is to analyse factors affecting the emigration and re-immigration of people born in Norway with different ties to the country, measured by their country background over three generations. One of the purposes is to lay a better foundation for future assumptions regarding the immigration of the Norwegian-born population in the national population projections. Our aim is to analyse "circular migration" patterns among the Norwegian-born population, and for comparison also among immigrants.

Statistics Norway makes a division of the entire population of Norway into a total of 30 categories, based on information about the person's own, parents' and grandparents' country of birth. These categories are called ‘Basic codes’ and are commonly not included in the official statistics. In the analyses we concentrate on the 15 Basic codes where Norway is the country of birth for the individual in question, and in addition those who are defined as immigrants.

On the basis of microdata from 2000-2018, cohort analyses are made of how emigration and gross and net return migration vary between people in the different Basic code groups. Furthermore, estimates of the likelihood of emigrating and return migrating are given by accounting for individual characteristics.

Key issues to be answered are: What drives the exodus of Norwegian-born persons from Norway and which groups return? What is the impact of education, labour market status and family ties in Norway? What is the significance of the degree of Norwegian versus foreign background over three generations?

The largest group consists of people born in Norway to two Norwegian-born parents and with four Norwegian-born grandparents. While this group has changed little in the number of people and shown a clearly declining share of the country's population in the 2000s, all groups with foreign background for three generations show both increase in population and proportion of the country's population.

The analyses show that the tendency to emigrate from Norway increases with an increasing degree of foreign background over three generations. Return migration among those who emigrate is highest in the first year after emigration, and then decreases gradually with the number of years since the emigration was registered. Unlike emigration, the likelihood of return migrating does not quite follow the degree of generational proximity to Norway. Here, there are several groups with varying generational ties to foreign countries that show the highest return migration rates. Nevertheless, it is among the Norwegian-born persons with the highest foreign generational background who show the lowest tendency to return migrate.

People with few or no other resident family members in Norway show the highest emigration rate, particularly childless. The probability of emigration increases with increasing level of education. Measured by status in the labour market before emigration, the probability of emigration is lowest among those who were registered in employment and/or in education, while unemployed and especially those who were outside the labour force show a higher probability of emigration than others.

There are relatively small and little systematic differences between men and women regarding the probability of return migration. Measured by age, a relatively high probability of return migration has been observed among children and young people in groups with a high generational connection to Norway, but a relatively low probability of return migration among the youngest with a high foreign generational background. The probability of return migration has been shown to be low for people with upper secondary education as their highest level of education before they emigrated. Emigrants with short and long higher education and a high generational connection to Norway sometimes have a high probability of return migration, while the opposite is true for highly educated immigrants. Measured by labour market status before emigration, the probability of return migration is highest among those who were registered in employment and/or in education, while it is low for former unemployed and people outside the labour force.

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