Reports 2020/40

Immigration and Immigrants in the Nordic Countries

This publication is in Norwegian only.

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This project is a descriptive analysis based on Nordic comparative data for migration and integration, in the Nordic Council of Ministers table data base for Nordic data:

The Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) had 1 January 2017 about 3 1/3 million immigrants and 925 000 descendants, all together 4 ¼ million persons with immigrant background. The total population of Norden was 26,8 million, immigrants were 12,4 per cent of the population, descendants 3,5 per cent. Sweden had 51 per cent of the immigrants in Norden, and 37 per cent of the total population.

Considering single countries, there are more immigrants from Poland (240 000) than from any other country. Poland is the largest immigrant country for Iceland and Norway, and important also for Denmark and Sweden. Syria has the second largest number of immigrants (207 000), and so many have arrived after 2016, probably making the number of Syrians the largest from any country in 2020.

The largest number of immigrants goes to Sweden. Relative to the population size, Iceland has had more immigrants than the rest every year since 1990. Every Nordic country have had net immigration almost every year since 1990, most of the years with Sweden on the top. Total net immigration to Norden 1990-2018 was almost 2,7 million, two thirds of the total population growth in Norden in the period.

Participation in education and work is our operationalisation of integration. The connection between participation in education and integration is more clearly among descendants than among immigrants.

Generally, immigrants from Thailand and Somalia has large proportions in secondary school. Immigrants from Turkey, India and China have relatively moderate participation on that level. Both India and China have high proportions in higher education. Immigrants from Thailand and Somalia have, together with Syria, lower participation in higher education than immigrants from other countries.

The overall employment rate is somewhat higher in Sweden than in Norway and Denmark, and much higher than in Finland. Immigrants in general have much lower employment rate than the rest of the population, 25 percentage points lower in Sweden, 20 percentage points in Denmark and Finland, and “only” 15 percentage points in Norge.

The lowest employment rates for immigrants from most countries and regions, has Finland, followed by Denmark. Norway has higher employment rates than Sweden for immigrants from labour migrant countries, whereas Sweden has significantly higher employment rates for those coming from refugee countries.

Descendants have generally the highest employments rates in Sweden, and the lowest in Finland. In spite that many descendants are so young that they still are in education, they have higher employment than immigrants in many groups. Country background means less for employment of descendants than for immigrants.

In Sweden and Finland, the employment increases with duration of stay. In Denmark and Norway, the employment reaches its maximum after 8-15 years of stay.

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