Reports 2020/05

Family immigration and marriage patterns 1990-2018

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During the period from 1990 to 2018, family immigration was the main reason for immigration among non-Nordic citizens, accounting for 36 per cent of all immigration from countries outside the Nordic region. Family immigration can be divided into two groups; those who had a family relationship before immigration and are to be reunited with family, and those establishing a new family, family establishment.

Family immigration increased during the period and reunification accounted for the largest increase. There was a particularly large increase in the number of family reunifications in the years after 2004, primarily due to the influx of labour immigrants from the new EEA countries. The level remained high until 2018, when we saw a historical year-on-year decline from 12 100 to 9 200.

The majority of family immigrants are women. This is particularly the case among family immigrants aged 18 years or older. Among family immigrants who are aged 17 or younger, the gender distribution is more even. During the period, the vast majority of family immigrants stemmed from Poland, followed by Thailand, Somalia, the Philippines and Lithuania. Family reunification, particularly for migrant workers from new EEA countries and refugees, dominates family immigration. Of the 312 700 family immigrants who have arrived since 1990, 67 per cent came to reunite with family and 33 per cent came to establish.

Who do immigrants and Norwegian-born to immigrant parents marry? In chapter four we distinguish between endogamous marriages, where the couple have the same country background, and exogamous marriages, where they have different country backgrounds. We have chosen to examine the 28 600 marriages in the period 2014-2018 between opposite-sex couples, where one or both were either immigrants or Norwegian-born to immigrant parents, and where we know country backgrounds of both spouses. Among the marriages where one or both were immigrants, we find that six out of ten were exogamous. However, there is considerable variation between different immigrant groups. The strongest tendency to marry someone with the same country background is found among immigrants from Pakistan, Somalia and Eastern Europe. Immigrants from Nordic and Western European countries, as well as women from Thailand and the Philippines, are the least endogamous.

There are also large gender disparities internally in the immigrant groups. Women from the Philippines, Thailand, Russia and Iran are considerably more exogamous than men from the same country, i.e. less likely to choose a spouse with the same country background as themselves. Many marry someone with a Norwegian background.

‘Norwegian-born to immigrant parents’ is a young group in Norway where four out of five are under the age of 20. It has also become less common to marry young. Consequently, we do not currently have a complete picture of the marriage pattern for this group. Among those who got married in the period 2014 to 2018, we see that about half married someone with the same country background. For individual countries, only those with parents from Pakistan, Turkey and Vietnam make up a big enough group for us to be able to identify a general marriage pattern. Norwegian-born to immigrant parents from Pakistan were the most endogamous. 87 per cent of women and 83 per cent of men in this group married someone from the same country background. This is a higher proportion than among Pakistani immigrants, among whom 83 per cent of the women and 79 per cent of the men married someone from the same country background.

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