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Norwegians Increasingly Positive About Immigrants as Their Numbers Grow, Survey Finds

© AFP 2022 / JONATHAN NACKSTRANDRefugees enter the arrival centre for refugees near the town on Kirkenes, northern Norway
Refugees enter the arrival centre for refugees near the town on Kirkenes, northern Norway - Sputnik International
According to Statistics Norway, Norwegians are becoming increasingly exposed to contacts with immigrants as coworkers, friends, and acquaintances, which is likely to contribute to a "decline in prejudice". At the same time, the percentage of immigrants keeps rising each year.

Attitudes towards immigrants and immigration in general are steadily becoming more positive in Norway, according to a recent study by the national bureau of statistics (SSB or Statistics Norway).

Surveys in recent years have shown "increasingly more positive attitudes towards immigrants, and this trend also continues this year", SSB wrote in a new report released this week. It additionally noted that this year's changes were also "larger and more significant" than those in previous surveys.

More and more Norwegians think immigrants contribute to working life and should have the same opportunities for work as Norwegians. By contrast, fewer Norwegians think immigrants abuse the social welfare system, and even fewer view them as a source of insecurity.

As of today, 78 percent of Norwegians think most immigrants enrich both their work and cultural life. Fully 40 percent "strongly agreed" that most immigrants make positive contributions to professional life in Norway, up from 29 percent in 2011. By contrast, only 2 percent "strongly disagreed", and just 5 percent think immigrants are a source of insecurity in Norwegian society.

Fewer Norwegians believe that most immigrants abuse social welfare schemes, and fewer consider immigrants as a source of insecurity in society, SSB noted.

When asked whether they believe most immigrants abuse social welfare schemes, six out of ten Norwegians in this year's survey answered that they completely or somewhat disagree with the statement, up from four out of ten in 2002.

In 2002, there were about as many of those who agreed and disagreed that immigrants are a source of insecurity in society. In 2020, 63 percent disagreed with this statement, while the proportion of those who agree was down to 20 percent.

The survey also showed that fewer Norwegians are sceptical towards having close relations with immigrants, including "as a new neighbour or as a son- or daughter-in-law". According to SSB, many Norwegians already have much closer relations with immigrants as coworkers, friends, and acquaintances, which is likely to have contributed to a decline in prejudice.

"We see that contact with immigrants is becoming more extensive", wrote SSB. "Most of those in contact with immigrants state that their experience with this contact is mainly positive".

Women and those with high levels of education are generally more positive towards immigrants than men and those with lower levels of education, SSB reported. Young Norwegians are also more liberal than their older countrymen.

Differences between urban and rural areas were also spotted. Those living in densely populated areas turned out to be more positively disposed towards immigrants, while respondents in less densely populated areas tend to be more sceptical. Again, this has been attributed to city dwellers having more frequent contact with immigrants, and generally having a higher education.

Meanwhile, the percentage of immigrants keeps growing due to mass immigration and demographic trends. For instance, from 2016 to 2020, the number of Muslims and Hindus in Norway grew by 23.4 percent and 36.8 percent, respectively.

In 2020, Norway's immigrant population of 980,000 accounted for 18.2 percent of the total population, up from 16.8 in 2017.

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