New figures from an annual survey show that scepticism towards immigrants and immigration is falling, which is in line with the trend in recent years.
Fewer Norwegians now feel uncomfortable about having an immigrant as home help or as a new neighbour, and even fewer are sceptical of having an immigrant as son-in-law or daughter-in-law. At the same time, there are more people who have contact with immigrants in various parts of their daily lives.
They are findings of the latest annual survey on attitudes towards immigrants and immigration, released by Statistics Norway this week.
At the time of writing Norway's population stands at 5.32 million people, compared to just 4.79 million just ten years ago. While some of the increase has been caused by an ageing population, much of it has been caused by people moving to Norway.
More contact, more comfortable
94 percent deny that it would be uncomfortable if they or someone in their immediate family got home assistance from an immigrant or had a new immigrant neighbour.
“A somewhat larger proportion shows skepticism to get an immigrant like in-law or daughter-in-law, but this proportion is getting smaller,” says Statistics Norway Senior Advisor Frøydis Strøm.
Much of the reason behind the change could be that Norwegians in general are having more contact with immigrants in different parts of their everyday lives. The survey revealed that 79% had contact with immigrants, compared to just 67% fifteen years ago.
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“We are also seeing positive attitudes towards immigrants in the workplace. Nine out of ten agree with the statement that immigrants should have the same opportunity to work as Norwegians”, says Strøm.
Changing attitudes, but the change is slow
While the statistics do point to less skepticism overall, the change over the past ten years has been relatively small.
The percentage of Norwegians who ‘totally agree' that most immigrants make an important contribution to Norwegian working life is 29%, up one percentage point from the previous year, and one further point from the 2009 survey.
When asked if most immigrants enrich the cultural life in Norway, 34% said they ‘totally agree', compared with 33% (2017) and 32% (2009).
The most notable change occurred with the question of whether most immigrants are a source of insecurity for Norway. Just 7% ‘totally agreed', a drop from 10% since 2009. More than one-quarter of respondents ‘totally disagreed' with the statement, an increase of 7% on 2009.
Not everyone agrees
However, attitudes are not improving across the board, especially with the non-extreme opinions.
For example, when asked whether most immigrants make an important contribution to Norwegian working life, the percentage of people saying they ‘somewhat agree' fell by one point compared to 2018, while the number saying ‘somewhat disagree' increased by the same amount.
There was also a small increase of one percentage point of the number of people who said that access to stay in Norway for refugees and asylum seekers should be harder than it is today. That said, the figure of 29% is still significantly lower than the 49% from 2009.