Reports 2012/44

Immigrants' residential preferences - the cause of immigrant dense living?

In this report we investigate if immigrants and their children born in Norway settle in separate residential areas because they want to live close to each other. The idea is that immigrants may feel more secure and more at ease when surrounded by other immigrants. Following this idea, it is their own preferences that are driving their residential choices.

This hypothesis is only one of several trying to explain why immigrant concentration areas arise. Other competing explanations relate to geographical differences in housing prices - as immigrants are generally less affluent than the majority population; discrimination preventing immigrants from settling where they prefer; or that local authorities by political or administrative measures have contributed to the channelling of immigrants to certain areas.

In the present report we analyse immigrants’ preferences for living close to other immigrants and the nature of the connection between residential preferences and the actual immigrant density in the dwelling area. The analysis strengthens the impression that immigrants’ preferences play a minor role in the creation of immigrant concentrations. When the proportion of immigrants in the dwelling area tends to become high, the immigrants express a wish for delimiting the immigrant density. Further analyses of the residential preferences of the majority population regarding whether to live or not in areas with many immigrants, would contribute additionally to the understanding of how preferences influence residential patterns.

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