Reports 2020/13

Unaccompanied minor refugees 1996-2018

Demographics, education, employment and income.

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Unaccompanied minor refugees are children and young people who arrived in Norway before turning 18 without their parents or anyone with parental responsibility for them, and who applied for asylum and were granted residence in Norway on this basis. From 1996 to 2018, 9 943 unaccompanied minor refugees were granted a permanent residence and settled in Norway. By the beginning of 2019 - 9 344 of them were still residents in Norway.

Unaccompanied minor refugees from Afghanistan are the single largest group (46 per cent, followed by Eritrea (15 per cent), Somalia (12 per cent) and Syria (6 per cent). Boys are in the majority with 84 per cent. About 2 900 persons have subsequently family immigrated to these minor refugees. Most immigrate to Syrian minor refugees with an average of 1.65 persons.

Unaccompanied minor refugees are living throughout the country in more than 286 municipalities. One third are settled in the five largest cities – most in Oslo with 17 per cent. Near 40 per cent of these minor refugees have moved from their first settlement municipality – about a third to Oslo.

Education and employment are important factors for successful integration. Among those settled as unaccompanied minor refugees, now aged 18-29 years, nearly 80 per cent were employed or under education by November 2018 – a higher percentage than in earlier monitors. The corresponding figure for the whole population, in the same age group, was 86 per cent.

A higher percentage of men (80 per cent) than women (74 per cent) are either employed or in education, but there are differences according to country background. Unaccompanied minor refugees from Syria and Eritrea, many with a short time of residence and low employment, are mostly under education or participating in the introduction program for new immigrants. Minor refugees from Sri Lanka, Iraq and Afghanistan have a longer time of residence, high employment rate, and consequently fewer are under education.

The level of income among those settled as unaccompanied minor refugees, is much lower than in the general population at the same age. In the age group 18-29 years, median income per consumption unit was 58 per cent of the general median income level in 2018. However, the level of income rises with time of residence. Among those settled as unaccompanied minor refugees, but now in the age group 30-39 years, median equivalent income was 72 per cent of the median income in the whole population at the same age.

Many unaccompanied minor refugees are at persistent risk-of-poverty as adults. But again, there are substantial differences with respect to country background. As the length of residence goes up, the share of people with persistent low income goes down as income from employment rises. However, many find it difficult to improve their financial situation even after many years of residence in Norway.

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