Reports 2017/38

Attitudes towards immigrants and immigration 2017

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This year’s survey shows that attitudes towards immigrants and immigration have moved in an immigrant-friendly direction since the last survey in 2016. The attitudes are now almost back to where they were before the surge of asylum seekers in autumn 2015. The new survey was conducted in July-August 2017.

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. The share who agree that ‘most immigrants represent a source of insecurity in society’ went down by 5 percentage points to 27 per cent, and the share who think that it ‘should be easier for refugees and asylum seekers to obtain a residence permit in Norway’ increased by 4 percentage points to 16 per cent.

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).

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).

A multivariate analysis shows the correlation between different background factors and eight of the most important attitude indicators. 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.

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 Hedmark/Oppland, Agder/Rogaland and Vestlandet appear to be among the most sceptical. The share who agree that immigrants should have access to jobs on equal terms with Norwegians is lowest in Agder/Rogaland. Here we sense a certain correlation to local employment difficulties.

Political preferences also give rise to vast differences in attitudes. The ranking of the parties however varies according to different attitude indicators. Nevertheless, supporters of the Green Party, the Liberal Party and the Socialist Left Party tend to assemble at one side of the attitude scale and supporters of the Centre Party, the Conservative Party and the Progress Party at the other.

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