Reports 2018/24

Immigrants and Norwegian-born to immigrant parents from Syria

This publication is in Norwegian only.

Open and read the publication in PDF (1.8 MB)

The following is a brief summary of the key features in the report.


The chapter describes immigrants and Norwegian-born to immigrant parents from Syria. In the Norwegian context, immigrants from Syria are a fairly new group of refugees, but they have had the highest growth in both 2016 and 2017. At the beginning of 2018, there were 27 400 immigrants and 2 500 Norwegian- born to immigrant parents with a background from Syria in Norway. These two groups together make up the seventh largest group in Norway. The gender distribution among Syrian immigrants is quite similar to that of most refugee groups, with men in the majority. Many young, single Syrian men fled to Norway. It is likely that future family reunification and family establishment will eventually correct the gender imbalance. Among the largest immigrant groups, Syrians have the shortest duration of residence. Nine out of ten have been resident for less than five years.

Eight out of ten Syrian immigrants arrived as refugees, while the remaining two out of ten came through family reunification with a refugee. Family immigration from Syria is still at a low level as most refugees are ‘newcomers’.

Syrians are relatively well dispersed throughout Norway, and are found in 399 of the country’s 422 municipalities. The largest number with an immigrant background from Syria live in Oslo, with a total of 2 600. These constitute 0.4 per cent of the population of the capital city. Only nine per cent of Syrians live in the capital.

A total of 42 per cent of the Syrians in Norway live in large households, consisting of five people or more. This is a high proportion compared to the entire population, where 15 per cent live in a large household. The proportion of Syrians living alone in households is lower than for the rest of the population, at 14 per cent. The corresponding proportion in the total population is 19 per cent. More than half of all men aged 20–29 with a background from Syria live alone, while the corresponding figure for their female counterparts is very low.


Among Syrian immigrants aged 16 years and over, the proportion without an upper secondary education is relatively high. Sixty-seven per cent of those who arrived after 2012 (newcomers) do not have an upper secondary education. In addition, 2 per cent have no education.

The proportion of immigrants with an upper secondary education and tertiary vocational education is low. In total, 6 per cent of newcomers and 24 per cent of the Syrian immigrants that arrived before 2012 attained this level of education, compared with 40 per cent of the total population in Norway.

About 25 per cent of newcomers from Syria have a higher education: 21 per cent of women and 28 per cent of men. This is below the national average (33 per cent) for the whole population aged 16 years and over with a higher education.

Read more about the publication