Attitudes towards immigrants and immigration have become somewhat more positive during the last year and are now almost back to where they were before the surge of asylum seekers in autumn 2015.
According to new figures from the yearly survey Attitudes towards immigrants and immigration, 16 per cent now think that it ‘should be easier for refugees and asylum seekers to obtain a residence permit in Norway’. Fifty-two per cent think that the access to residence permits should remain the same as today, whereas 28 per cent think it should be more difficult.
In the 2016 survey, 12 per cent wanted more liberal access to residence permits, while 33 per cent wanted more restrictions. Fifty-one per cent wanted no changes in the regulations.
Looking at the development over time, the share who want more restrictions was 56 per cent back in 2003. With the exception of certain years, this share steadily fell up until last year, according to researcher Svein Blom in Statistics Norway.
The share who agree that ‘most immigrants make an important contribution to Norwegian working life’ increased by 5 percentage points from 66 to 71 per cent, while the share who agree that ‘most immigrants represent a source of insecurity in society’ went down by 5 percentage points to 27 per cent.
This year’s survey was conducted between 3 July and 16 August 2017.
More people report having contact with immigrants
Moreover, 78 per cent now claim to have contact with immigrants, a return to the level of 2015 after a drop to 72 per cent in 2016. Those who would dislike having an immigrant as a neighbour also fell from 6 to 4 per cent, the same share as in 2015. These changes are all statistically significant.
There are also minor changes to benevolent attitudes in questions about whether immigrants should have ‘the same job opportunities as Norwegians’ (88 per cent agree) and whether labour immigration from non-Nordic countries makes a positive contribution to the Norwegian economy (65 per cent agree).
Insignificant changes in questions about social welfare and culture
Regarding the statements that ‘most immigrants abuse the social welfare system’ and that ‘most immigrants enrich the cultural life in Norway’, 25 per cent and 68 per cent agree respectively. This is not significantly different from the survey in 2016.
The same is true for the proportion that would feel uncomfortable about having an immigrant as a son-in-law or a daughter-in-law (20 per cent) and the proportion agreeing that immigrants should endeavour to become as similar to Norwegians as possible (50 per cent).
Attitudes towards immigrants vary according to background factors. Educational level and contact with immigrants appear to be among the background factors most strongly related to all the attitude indicators. A higher education and a wide range of contacts tend to go together with liberal attitudes.
Youths are more immigrant-friendly
Gender, age and geographical region only seem to impact on some of the attitude indicators. Women are for instance more prone than men to support the idea that immigrants enrich the culture. They also refute more strongly than men the idea that immigrants should be as similar to Norwegians as possible.
Where age matters, it is generally the youngest members of the population who maintain the most immigrant-friendly viewpoints.
According to region, people living in Agder/Rogaland are among those who are most sceptical to whether immigrants should have access to jobs on equal terms with Norwegians.
Source: SSB / Norway Today