Reports 2013/30

Emigration from Norway 1971-2011

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Using Norwegian register data for the period 1971-2011, this report gives an updated description of registered emigration from Norway the last 40 years. The report provides emigration rates for immigrants, others with an immigration background, and those with no registered immigration background. The emigration rate is further broken down by gender, age groups, countries of origin, and the original grounds for immigration. The importance of length of stay in Norway and year of immigration are also considered. Finally, we look at country of destination, who returns to Norway, and circular migration. The emigration rate for Norway is compared with the rate for other European countries. A separate chapter deals with the quality of the emigration register data, with a focus on missing registrations.

The emigration rate for the total population has increased from slightly above 3 per thousand at the beginning of the 1970s, to 6.6 per thousand in 2011. We find that Norwegian refugee policy and return programs influence the rate certain years. In addition, the emigration rate is influenced by international economic cycles and economic conditions in Norway. For instance, an economic downturn is normally associated with an out-migration of labour migrants. Contrary to expectations, the recent increase in the emigration rate coincides with good economic conditions in Norway and record high immigration. It seems a larger international and more mobile population in Norway migrate somewhat independently of economic trends. However, despite a more international world, there are few signs of increased mobility among those without an immigration background in Norway.

Immigrants have the highest emigration rate throughout the period 1971-2011, and they constitute an increasing share of those who emigrate; around 40 percent at the beginning of the 1970s compared to more than 70 percent in 2011. But during these 40 years, the emigration rate for immigrants has almost halved to 44 per thousand in 2011. The likelihood of emigrating is greatest the first years after immigration, and thereafter decreases with time. After ten years of residence in Norway, very few leave. Generally, circular migration and repeated emigration is relatively rare. Norwegian born with immigrant parents have considerably lower emigration rates than their parents.

The highest emigration rates are found among immigrants from North-America, the Nordic countries and Western Europe, students and labour migrants. Immigrants from Asia, Africa, South America, Non-EU countries in Eastern Europe, refugees and family migrants have the lowest emigration rates throughout the period. Immigrants from EU-countries in Eastern Europe are in an intermediate category, with an emigration rate that has gone from being among the lowest to one of the highest in the 40-year period. Since the EU-enlargement in 2004, the emigration patterns differ considerably between men and women, with women staying longer. The last years drop in the rate for immigrants from EU-countries in Eastern Europe, is partially due to missing registrations of emigration.

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