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Monday, May 1, 2017

Norway Migrant Integration Goes into Reverse after 5- to 10-year Stay

Although refugees who come to Norway rapidly integrate into the labor market, the gap between their and locals’ employment will increase again after just five to 10 years, a study says. 

The study was carried out in February by researchers from Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research amid Europe's growing refugee crisis. It showed that refugees and immigrants from “low income source countries” are seeing their integration reversed with ”widening immigrant-native employment differentials” and concluded that immigrants are going to become more and more dependent on social insurance.

Frisch senior researcher and co-author of the study Knut Røed told RT that they were looking into immigrants’ performance, including refugees, humanitarian and family immigrants, in the labor market for more than 20 years to get their results.

“They relatively rapidly integrate into the Norwegian labor market, but then after some years – five to 10 years – there is a sense of immigration in reverse. So the difference in employment rates of natives and immigrants start to increase again and a lot of immigrants fall out of the labor market,” the researcher told RT.

He added that refugees and migrants can have “a huge potential,” and the situation can be changed with more investment in education and human capital.

“Those who received education in Norway and therefore also learned the Norwegian language probably better than the others, they have much stronger attachments to the labor market, and they remain in the labor market for a much longer period of time.”

As the refugee crisis has been building up momentum, the ability to integrate into society has been at the core of the debate on immigration policy in Europe. As Europe was struggling with the influx of asylum-seekers, some hoped that the situation could be beneficial for European economies, while others constantly warned about the threat that refugees pose to European countries.

Hansjoerg Mueller from the Alternative for Germany right-wing party praised the results of the study during a fierce debate on RT, saying that “that study has proved that it is not right to blame us, the immigrants have to be blamed for their not enough willingness to integrate into the host countries.”

His opponent, social commentator Mo Ansar, blamed the politician for not accepting any model of integration and advocated coexistence in a plural society, where people are free to live following their own religion, culture and sexual identity. This model was slammed by Mueller, who said it could lead to “a civil war and bloodshed.”

10 years from now there will be many more migrants in Norway than there are now and fewer ethnic Norwegians in the marketplace to support those migrants on social assistance. It will not be a comfortable situation and there are no obvious ways to improve it.

I would suspect, however, that it is somewhat temporary as second generation migrants will be better educated and able to join the workforce like other Norwegians. It's the next 20 years or so that will be especially problematic.