Reports 2020/20

The economic integration of immigrants in Norway over time

This publication is in Norwegian only.

Open and read the publication in PDF (2.2 MB)

This analysis looks at the economic integration of various immigrant groups during their first 12 years of residence in Norway, for the arrival cohorts of 1993, 2000 and 2005. The immigrants are broken down by gender in the analysis. There are systematic differences between the incomes of men and women, both among immigrants and in the majority population, where men generally have higher incomes. The majority population consists here of people with no immigrant background. Because various groups of immigrant men are compared with men in the majority population, and similarly for women, our analysis of the economic integration process will be gender based.

Indicators used to describe the integration process are; the percentage that is economically active – measured as the proportion with earned income exceeding twice that of the National Insurance scheme basic amount – and average earned income and transfers. We see systematic differences between immigrants' economic integration by gender, country of origin, reason for immigration and level of education.

The country of origin has considerable overlap with the reason for immigration for immigrants by gender in the three cohorts. Immigrants from Europe are generally fully economically integrated with the majority population after 12 years of residence. Immigrants from Africa and Asia never quite reach the levels of the majority population, but the integration process varies for different countries of origin. This is especially evident for the women, with, for example, Thai women being much more economically active than Somali and Iraqi women after a long period of residence. For immigrant women from diverse country groups such as Asia and Africa, it seems most appropriate to study the integration process by country of origin.

There are major differences in economic integration between the refugees in the 1993 cohort and the refugees in the 2000 and 2005 cohorts. In the early cohort, the refugees consisted largely of Europeans fleeing the Balkan war, and these had a fairly successful economic integration during their first 12 years in Norway. The two later cohorts consisted to a greater extent of refugees from Asia and Africa, and these had a larger economic gap to the majority population after a long period of residence. Family immigrants of refugees had about the same degree of integration as the refugees in the two later cohorts, while other family immigrants had less of a gap to the majority population. The labour immigrants were highly economically active in all three cohorts, but the male labour immigrants in the 2005 cohort from the new EU countries had somewhat lower average earned income.

Persons with a refugee background in the 2000 cohort were particularly adversely affected by the recession period 2008-2010, and the men more so than the women. These men in the 2000 cohort had a marked decline in economic activity after 2008. However, the study of the 2005 cohort in this analysis shows no decline in economic activity for men with a refugee background after 8-9 years of residence. Among the men with a refugee background in the 2000 cohort, those without a higher education were particularly exposed during the recession.

Most of the women with a refugee background in the 2000 and 2005 cohorts have a lower secondary education or lower. These women typically have little earned income and are dependent on transfers, and the percentage that is economically active is low. The degree of economic integration is much greater in women with an upper secondary education by comparison. Among those with a lower secondary education or lower, it therefore appears that the women with a refugee background are much less economically active than the men.

Read more about the publication