Reports 2009/2

Living conditions among immigrants in Norway 2005/2006

The sample consists of people who have lived in Norway for at least two years with a background from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Somalia and Chile.

A little over half of them have been granted residence in Norway as refugees, most of them on humanitarian grounds. Median length of residence in Norway is 12 years, but this figure varies considerably among the national groups, with shortest residence among Iraqis and Somalis, and longest residence among Pakistanis. A little under one in ten are persons born in Norway to immigrant parents. The percentage in the national group is largest among Pakistanis, Vietnamese and Turks. Immigrants and persons born in Norway to immigrant parents are nearly always treated as a single group in this report.

A majority of the immigrants and persons born in Norway to immigrant parents help their family in their country of origin financially, but only a small proportion do so on a monthly basis. On average, one in ten own land in their native country, and a slightly higher percentage have a dwelling there. Approximately one in four expect to return to their country of origin, but preferably when they are older. On a scale of one to seven, two thirds express an above-average sense of belonging in Norway.

Since 1996, the quality of housing has improved for the immigrant population. The percentage of immigrants who live in a detached house and who own their home has risen, while the percentage who live in a block of flats and who rent their home has sunk. The degree of overcrowding has gone down. However, immigrant families tend to live in poorer quality houses (with more decay and noise) than the average for the population as a whole.

The percentage of immigrants and persons born in Norway to immigrant parents who are married or live with their partner is the same as for the population as a whole. A clear majority of couples are married, but not all married immigrants' spouses live in Norway. A higher proportion than in 1996 have parents in Norway, but fewer in all age groups live with their parents. Relatively more immigrants also have other family members living in Norway.

Immigrants and persons born in Norway to immigrant parents from the countries we have selected are more religious than the population as a whole. They are more actively religious, and religion plays a more significant part in their lives. In all, two thirds of the sample were raised as Muslims.

Among immigrants from Iran and Chile, many individuals no longer regard themselves as believers. Among immigrants who came to Norway aged 18 or older, almost two out of ten had not completed any form of education, while one in four stated that they had higher education. One in four subsequently completed an education in Norway. Measured using the highest completed education from abroad or Norway, the educational level is highest among Iranians, Chileans, Iraqis and Bosnians and lowest among Turks and Somalis.

Employment was 57 per cent among immigrants, compared with 75 per cent for the population as a whole. Ergonomic problems in the working environment are more common among immigrants. They also have more repetitive work, but nevertheless do not consider the risk of strain injuries as higher. The perception of work as externally controlled and as mentally taxing is more prevalent among immigrants than in the population as a whole.

Controlled for differences in household size, immigrants' household income after tax is markedly lower than that of the population as a whole. At the top of the income hierarchy are people with a background from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Sri Lanka; at the bottom are people with a background from Somalia and Iraq.

Men and women in the sample do slightly more housework per week than the corresponding groups in the population as a whole It is far less common among immigrant couples for both partners to be in paid work than among couples in the population as a whole. Immigrant parents look after their children themselves to a greater extent than the rest of the population.

On average for all the national groups represented, immigrants do not report that they have been subjected to violence or threats, theft and harm more than the population as a whole do.

A little over two thirds of the immigrants in the survey already have Norwegian citizenship. Including the people that had applied for citizenship at the time of the interview and those who expect to apply, this figure is 94 per cent. Roughly half of the remaining individuals would apply for Norwegian citizenship if they could also keep their original citizenship.

Almost half of the immigrants have experienced discrimination in one or more areas. Immigrants from Somalia and Iran have experienced discrimination most frequently and in most areas. Men have experienced more negative differential treatment than women, probably because they participate in more social arenas.

Project funding: The Norwegian Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion.

About the publication


Living conditions among immigrants in Norway 2005/2006


Kristin Henriksen, Svein Blom

Series and number

Reports 2009/2


Statistics Norway


Living conditions , Social conditions, welfare and crime

ISBN (online)




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About Reports

Analyses and annotated statistical results from various surveys are published in the series Reports. Surveys include sample surveys, censuses and register-based surveys.