Norwegians should get used to and embrace the current influx of immigrants into the country, a researcher tells The Foreigner.
“The problem is the Norwegian public debate mixes up high migration with migration by refugees and non-Western immigrants – which has been fairly constant,” says Kristian Tronstad at Norway’s Institute for Regional and Urban Research.
Discussions the past few days about immigration have been a mixture, as usual. State broadcaster NRK has chosen to devote this week to an article series about foreigners in Norway.
One view that came on Monday was Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise’s (NHO) Dag Aarnes. He believes there is little room left for more foreign labour.
In another case, Liberal Party (V) leader Trine Skei Grande wants the rules relaxed for Norwegian companies wishing to employ staff from abroad.
“Some Norwegians are sceptical that more immigrants will pose a problem to the welfare state. The Nordic Welfare model depends very much on a high level of participation of both men and women, and the employment level is very low in some immigrant groups,” Kristian Tronstad explains.
Whilst non-Western immigrants with lower education can be harder to integrate in working life and regarding housing, he cites Sweden’s Malmö and Paris in relation to the ungrounded ghetto view as a further illustration.
“Politicians in Oslo, as well as the media, fear the eastern part of Oslo can turn into places like districts Rosengård in Malmö, or the outskirts of Paris’ regarding low labour market participation. I don’t think this is correct.”
“One immigrant/ethnic group does not dominate in eastern Oslo, and a high proportion of immigrants do rather well in this [working life participation],” adds Mr Tronstad.
What do you see happening regarding immigrant numbers to Norway in the future?
“Norway currently has the highest migrant rate of all the European countries due to low unemployment and high wages. The economic conditions make Norway attractive for foreigners. It’s hard to tell exactly what will happen in the future, since it is related to changing political and economic conditions – both in Norway and other countries. Nevertheless, I assume high numbers of immigration will continue for some years.”
Discussing what he sees as the pros and cons of immigration, he states, “different industries in Norway need foreign labour, it’s a win-win situation.”
“So far, labour migration from new member states has brought Norwegian society substantial economic gains by providing much needed labour in a period of high economic growth, with increased tax revenues and reduced inflation as a result.”
Kristian Tronstad also highlights that new immigrants to Norway have placed little burden on public spending.
“At the same time, however, foreign labour is cheaper and many work in jobs shunned by native Norwegians. These structural changes in the labour market tend to produce effects that may prove problematic for the Norwegian social model in the long run,” he says.
“New hiring strategies to reduce costs and increasing flexibility might increase dualisation and segmentation of the workforce in parts of the labour market, producing new forms of inequality along ethnic lines,” concludes the researcher.
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