Attitudes towards immigrants and immigration

Updated: 14 December 2022

Next update: Not yet determined

Proportion agreee that most immigrants make an important contribution to Norwegian working life
Proportion agreee that most immigrants make an important contribution to Norwegian working life

About the statistics

The statistics are based on a survey. The purpose of the statistics is to map the attitudes of the Norwegian population towards various aspects of the national immigration and refugee policy and towards immigrants as a group. This year's survey was conducted between 3 July and 12 August.

The following instructions have accompanied the questions posed from 1993 to 2000:

“Neither agree, nor disagree” exists as a hidden response alternative, which means that it should not be read to the respondent, but be used if the respondent gives no other answer.


Persons with two foreign-born parents. (For adopted from abroad it is the social, not the biological parents, who count.)

Refugees and asylum seekers

Subgroups within the category “immigrants”. Refugees are persons granted political asylum or have the right to stay on humanitarian grounds. That may be due to having obtained refugee status by the UN High Commissioner or being part of the refugee quota accepted by Norway each year, or they may have come as asylum seekers and granted asylum or right to stay on humanitarian grounds."

In 1998, a supplementary question was added to the four permanent questions. This new question had the following instruction: &“This question very much resembles Innv1 - but here we distinguish between those who want to give residence to more or &“as many” refugees and asylum seekers as today. The question was deliberately placed at a distance behind the other immigrant questions. The idea behind the supplementary question was to investigate how the answers to it deviate from the answers to the question (Innv1): “Norway should give residence to refugees and asylum seekers to at least the same extent as today.”

In 2002 the instruction is being changed to the following:

An immigrant is a person having two foreign-born parents. For adopted from abroad it is the social, not the biological parents, who count.

Refugees is a subgroup within the category “immigrants”´. A refugee is a person granted asylum. This may happen in several ways. Either by being granted refugee status by the UN High Commissioner or being part of the refugee quota accepted by Norway each year, or by having successfully applied for asylum in Norway. Persons granted right to stay on humanitarian grounds are also covered by the term refugee.

Asylum seeker is a person having applied for asylum in Norway.

Please, also note that the concept refugee in colloquial language often is used about persons who are fleeing infringements of human rights, war, riots or environmental disasters.”

Upon request by an interviewer - in 2003 the first paragraph of the instruction was supplied with these additional sentences: “In the present questions we aim at immigrants with a non-Western background. This should be conveyed if the respondent asks for clarification.”

The current instruction as from 2009 and onwards is as follows:

Definition of concepts


Foreign-born persons registered as resident in Norway having two foreign-born parents. Persons adopted from abroad are not considered immigrants. The attitude questions generally relate to immigrants with national backgrounds from Eastern Europe, Asia (incl. Turkey), Africa and South and Central America. This should be conveyed if the respondent asks for clarification.


A subgroup of immigrants who have migrated to the host country due to reasons of flight and have obtained asylum or right to residence on humanitarian grounds. Some are transferred from refugee camps abroad according to agreements with the UN High Commissioner of Refugees. Others have come as asylum seekers.

Asylum seekers

Persons applying for asylum or residence on humanitarian grounds. Their application for residence is still under consideration.

Labour immigration

Immigration accepted on grounds of labour. The Nordic countries have had a common labour market since 1954. As a member of the EEA (European Economic Area), Norway is also obliged to receive labour immigrants from countries within the EU/EEA/EFTA. In May 2004, this area was expanded by 10 new EU countries (Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Cyprus and Malta), and later also Bulgaria and Romania. Beyond that, access to the Norwegian labour market is severely restricted for citizens of other countries. Skilled workers and specialists from &“third countries" may be granted access if they cannot be substituted by labour resident within the area. Persons employed on a short-term basis (less than 6 months) and not registered as residents of the country are also usually included as labour immigrants. Before the ban on immigration was introduced in 1975, labour immigration to Norway was more or less free. The first immigrants from Yugoslavia, Turkey, Morocco, India and Pakistan were labour immigrants.

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Name: Attitudes towards immigrants and immigration

Topic: Population

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Division for Population Statistics

Whole country, but also broken down at province level.

The statistics were published every October/November from 1993 to 2000. As an exception, the 1994 results were published in January 1995. After a break in 2001, the statistics were resumed in 2002 and published yearly in November/December.

Results have been cited in SOPEMI reports (Continuous Reporting System of Migration of OECD) from Norway.

Depersonalized micro data for both the Omnibus surveys and the Travel and holiday surveys (now: the Travel and social surveys) have been transferred to NSD - Norwegian Centre for Research Data.

The questions were posed for the first time in Statistics Norway’s Omnibus survey in June 1993, and thereafter yearly in the Omnibus for the second quarter (except in 1994 when it was the third quarter) until 2000. Every year, apart from in 2000, a document giving a simple analysis of the results has been published.

From 2005 and onwards the attitude questions were transferred to the third quarter of the Travel and holiday survey (now: the Travel and social surveys), as Statistics Norway decided that year to discontinue its Omnibus survey. In 2007, the analyses of the results were transferred from the series Notater (Documents) to the series Rapporter (Reports).

The relevant ministry responsible for immigrant integration finances the research and uses the data as a basis for evaluating how its policy aimed at immigrants and immigration is being perceived by the population. The media has given considerable coverage to the results.

No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on at 08 am. Prior to this, a minimum of three months' advance notice is given inthe Statistics Release Calendar. This is one of Statistics Norway’s key principles for ensuring that all users are treated equally.

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Statistics Act § 10

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The Norwegian population aged 16-79 years, registered as resident in Norway. The unit is person.

The data source is now Statistics Norway’s Travel and social survey (previously: Travel and holiday survey). During the years 1993-2004, the Omnibus survey was used.

The net sample size has followed the development of the samples drawn in Statistics Norway’s Omnibus surveys: in 1993-1994 approximately 1 800 persons, 1995-1997 about 1 400 persons, 1998 about 1 200 persons and 1999-2000 about 1 400 persons. By the 2000s, the sample size has fluctuated between 1 400 and 1 100.

The Omnibus surveys and the Travel and social surveys (previously: - holiday surveys) follow Statistics Norway’s general sampling procedures. In the early publications presenting the results of the surveys an appendix containing details about the collection of data has been added. Since 2002, the appendix on data collection has been replaced by some paragraphs at the beginning of the publication rendering the most basic facts about the data collection: units sampled not belonging to the target population, non-response, fieldwork period, possible sample biases etc. For further details, the reader is recommended to consult documentation materials for each specific survey.

Total interview time is cited in the document/report, but not for each separate part of the survey.

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Nothing is ever published that makes it possible to detect the identity of the respondents.

Questions that have been kept unaltered, allow for comparisons over time.

The documentation reports from the surveys include paragraphs on data collection and processing errors. They also present data on non-response and sampling bias in connection with known parameters, such as sex, age, and province.

From 2008 and onwards a part of the above mentioned documentation has been presented in the data chapter in the same reports that present the findings from the surveys on attitudes towards immigrants and immigration. Here is also exposed how the educational level distribute among the respondents in the net sample compared to the corresponding distribution in the gross sample. In 2010 the difference between the two distributions had grown so large that a weight was constructed to eliminate the bias in the educational distribution of the net sample. The results in 2010 and consecutive years have been presented with this weight activated.

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Key figure pages