Reports 2013/37

Immigration and immigrants in Norwegian municipalities

This publication is in Norwegian only

Open and read the publication in PDF (20.4 MB)

Norway has seen significant changes in the size and composition of immigrants by country of origin and reasons for migration the last years, in particular after the EEA-enlargement in 2004 and 2007. At the same time, there have been significant changes in the regional distribution of immigrants. These changes have not been given that much attention. Using maps, this report describes the regional demographic aspects of the changes at county and municipality level, and the demographic consequences for the municipalities.

Immigrants and Norwegian born with immigrant parents comprised 13.1 per cent of the population in Norway at the beginning of 2012. Only 43 out of 429 municipalities had a larger proportion than the national average, among these Oslo (29.6 per cent) and many of its neighbouring municipalities. The proportion in the counties varies between 6 and Oslo’s almost 30 per cent. Those originating in the EEA-countries, USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, in short EEA etc., are more evenly distributed than those coming from the rest of the world, in short called Africa, Asia etc.

In terms of proportion of western immigrants in the population, Oslo and some neighbouring municipalities were among the top ten in 2003. Today, these municipalities rank between 20 and 50. This is an important development during the last decade that has not received much attention. Most counties have more immigrants from Africa, Asia etc. than from EEA etc., but EEA immigrants dominates in counties in Western Norway. The lowest proportion of EEA immigrants among all immigrants is found in Oslo.

In the yearly flows since 2006, “labour” has been the main reason for immigration to Norway, with “family” as second. Labour-related immigration has increased in importance since the EEA-enlargement, driven by the increasing demand for labour in Norway. The largest proportions of labour migrants are found in small fishing municipalities, and in central Rogaland. The capital region also has significant proportions labour migrants. The highest proportions of refugees are found in Oslo, in towns in Østfold, in Vest-Agder and in some scattered, small municipalities. 93 municipalities had no refugees at the beginning of 2012.

Since Norway now has more immigrants from Poland (72 000 immigrants and descendants) than from any other country, this group is the largest in many municipalities (211 out of 429), and in 16 out of 19 counties. Those from Germany and Lithuania are the largest country-groups in 40 municipalities each, while Pakistan is largest in only three municipalities and one county (Oslo). Immigrants and descendants, mostly refugees, originating from countries in Africa, Asia or Latin-America, constitute the largest national group in 74 municipalities.

The number of immigrants living in Norway in 1998 was 207 000, and 38 000 Norwegian-born with immigrant parents. In 14 years the numbers have more than doubled, to 550 000 immigrants and 108 000 descendants. In 1998, no single group had the same dominance as EEA-immigrants have today. In 1998, the number of immigrants from Denmark was the largest national group in 91 municipalities (today in 2), and those from Bosnia-Herzegovina were the largest in 83 (today 2) municipalities. Nine different countries had the lead in one county or more, none had a position like Poland today.

Last year (2011), population growth in Norway was larger than the global average (1.3 versus 1.1 per cent). Today, immigration is important for the municipal population changes. The net immigration has caused population growth in 137 municipalities that otherwise would have experienced a decline in the period 2008-2011. 122 municipalities had population decline, in spite of immigration.

Read more about the publication