Reports 2015/52

Attitudes towards immigrants and immigration 2015

This publication is in Norwegian only.

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Fifteen per cent of the population think it should be easier for refugees and asylum seekers to get a residence permit in Norway than it is today. Fifty per cent think it should remain the same as today, while 29 per cent think it should be more difficult. This is one of the findings in the survey on attitudes towards immigrants and immigration, conducted by Statistics Norway in July and August 2015. The refugee situation and how it was portrayed at that time subsequently changed in the autumn. The result is similar to that of 2014, when the share who thought it should be easier to get a residence permit increased from 7 to 18 per cent.

The survey further shows a significant reduction in the share of people who would find it uncomfortable if their son or daughter wanted to marry an immigrant, with a drop from 23 to 17 per cent. When the question was first posed in 2002, 40 per cent said they would find such a situation uncomfortable.

The survey also shows an increase of 8 percentage points in the share having contact with immigrants. This share is now 78 per cent, which is the same as in 2013, following a divergent fall in the preceding year’s survey. The most common form of contact is through work and among friends and acquaintances. Those who have contact with immigrants also report that the contact is slightly more frequent than before. The share who have daily or weekly contact is 87 per cent; 6 percentage points higher than in 2014.

In the series of statements about immigrants and their performance in the labour market, contribution to culture, social welfare situation and impact on security in society, the population’s reactions this year do not differ significantly from last year: 73 per cent agree strongly or on the whole that ‘most immigrants make an important contribution to Norwegian working life’ (11 per cent disagreed), 72 per cent agree that ‘most immigrants enrich the cultural life in Norway’ (14 per cent disagreed), 52 per cent disagree that ‘most immigrants abuse the social welfare system’ (25 per cent agreed), and 57 per cent disagree that ‘most immigrants represent a source of insecurity in society’ (26 per cent agreed). Moreover, 87 per cent agree strongly or on the whole that ‘all immigrants in Norway should have the same job opportunities as Norwegians’ (8 per cent disagreed). The economic turnaround in the wake of the falling oil prices has apparently not led to a change in attitudes to these matters.

Women are often more liberal or benevolent than men. The most elderly (67-79 years) are more sceptical towards immigrants and immigration than other age groups, while the 25-44 age group is the most ‘immigrant friendly’. The acceptance of inter-cultural marriage is however most common among the youngest age group (16-24 years). This group also disagrees the most that immigrants should try to become like Norwegians. Persons with a higher education are typically more liberal than those with a lower education.

In relation to the urban/rural dimension, the greatest degree of benevolence is often found in the most urban areas (more than 100 000 inhabitants). Akershus and Oslo are generally more liberal than other geographic regions, but there are exceptions. Broken down by main economic activity, persons in employment and pupils/students appear to be more open minded towards immigrants and immigration than social welfare recipients and pensioners. Those who have contact with immigrants are also more accommodating than those with no contact. Persons who have an immigrant background themselves, especially from Europe and North America, tend to be more positive than others, however this group only makes up 6 per cent of the sample.

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