Norwegians have increasingly positive views of foreigners and are becoming more open to the benefits of immigration, analysis from Statistics Norway has found.
The analysis follows the stats agency’s annual survey on attitudes towards immigration in which the number of participants who view immigration favourably again grew.
Since 2002, the public’s outlook on immigration has consistently become more positive, except for in 2015, which saw an influx of asylum seekers into the country following a refugee crisis.
“At the same time, as more positive attitudes are expressed, we see that there has been more contact with immigrants. Most people who have contact with immigrants state that they mainly have positive experiences with them,” Frøydis Strøm, senior advisor at Statistics Norway, said in the report.
As part of this year’s survey, the public was asked whether the pandemic and travel restrictions had made them more sceptical of labour immigration. A large majority, 59 percent, said the pandemic hadn’t changed their views on foreign labour. However, 29 percent did say Covid made them view labour immigration with a more critical eye.
Additionally, 80 percent of respondents said that immigrants made a valuable contribution to working life, and seven out of ten said that immigration from outside the Nordics contributed positively to the economy.
For the first time, the proportion of those who thought it should be easier for refugees to settle was higher than those who thought the rules should be tighter. However, a majority was still in favour of keeping immigration and integration rules as they are.
The public was more split on whether immigrants should try to become “more Norwegian”. Just under half said they disagreed with the idea that foreigners should be more like the locals, while 32 percent agreed.
In its analysis of the long-term trends and changes in attitudes towards immigrants, Statistics Norway noted that women were more likely to have more favourable views on immigration than men. Young people and those living in built-up areas were also more receptive to foreign residents than older people and those living in rural communities.