Reports 2018/25

Welfare benefits and employment

Immigrants with longterm sickness, social assistance or work assessment allowance (AAP)

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The percentage of long-term recipients of sickness benefits was only slightly higher among immigrants than among the rest of the population. The highest percentage was among immigrants from several Balkan countries, and the lowest was among immigrants from Africa. The data shows that at least three factors impact on the figures: being a refugee from a war-torn country, age at immigration and labour force attachment. Just over half of all immigrants were in employment five years after a period of sick leave, which is 10 percentage points lower than among non-immigrants. All persons with a period of long-term sick leave have a weaker attachment to the labour force than others. Long-term sick leave reduces the labour force attachment most among immigrants from Eastern Europe outside the EU, and least among immigrants from Africa. This may be due to the fact that immigrants from Africa and Asia generally have the weakest attachment to the labour force. This is also the case among long-term recipients with a higher education. The high percentage in receipt of work assessment allowance (WAA) is also a reflection of the weak labour force attachment. Those on long-term sick leave benefit more from a buoyant labour market than others. Among long-term recipients, women fair better on the labour market than men.

The percentage receiving social assistance in 2009 was three times higher among immigrants than non-immigrants, however there were large regional variations. The figures for immigrants from Africa were particularly high, with more than one in four receiving social assistance, increasing to four in ten in some countries. Among non-immigrants, receipt of social assistance is most common among the youngest age groups, and this decreases with age. Among immigrants, however, the percentage of recipients varies little with age. Reason for immigration, on the other hand, has a greater impact on the figures, with the highest percentage among refugees. We also find a large variation in receipt of social assistance according to education. Nevertheless, one in seven immigrants from Africa with a higher education were in receipt of social assistance. Among those who had received social assistance, a higher percentage of immigrants than non-immigrants were employed five years later. This may be because a relatively high percentage of immigrants have only lived in Norway for a few years, regardless of their age, during which time they have been trying to establish themselves in the labour market. Other recipients, excluding the youngest groups, will normally have already established themselves in the labour market. Recipients from Eastern Europe in the EU have the highest rate of employment, presumably because they are mainly labour migrants. A buoyant labour market is particularly crucial for immigrants in receipt of social assistance finding employment. More than a third of immigrants receiving social assistance in 2009 were working in 2013, which is slightly more than other recipients. There was a relatively small variation among regions in the percentage employed in 2013. The percentage was highest among the youngest groups and decreased with age, and was naturally highest among labour migrants. Except for one region, the percentage employed in 2013 was lower for social assistance recipients with a high level of education than for those with the lowest level of education. However, more women with a higher education found employment than women without such an education. The percentage without employment during the period 2009–2013 and the percentage who were in employment throughout this period show that immigrant recipients’ labour force attachment was no weaker than that of other recipients. This is true for immigrants from all regions except Eastern Europe outside the EU.

The finding that labour force attachment among refugees decreases after 7–8 years in Norway is especially evident among recipients of social assistance. The percent¬age of immigrants receiving WAA was only slightly higher than among the rest of the population, however immigrants receive WAA for longer. The percentage of recipients varied considerably from country to country. The rate was lowest among immigrants from Eastern European countries in the EU and highest for Eastern European immigrants from outside the EU.

Among the new recipients of WAA who stopped receiving the allowance before 2013, just over half of the immigrants were employed in 2013, which is fewer than among the non-immigrants. Among these new recipients, the rate of employment in 2013 was lowest among immigrants from Africa and Asia etc., and these immigrant groups also accounted for the lowest percentage who stopped receiving WAA early.

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