Scandinavia's Population Groups Originating from Developing Countries

Change and Integration

image of Scandinavia's Population Groups Originating from Developing Countries

Scandinavia’s foreign-origin population has steadily increased over the past six decades. Migration flows into the region have been linked to societal phenomena such as growing labour demands, family reunification and the acceptance of refugees fleeing wars and political conflicts. Whereas earlier migration streams were generally expected to integrate relatively easily, concerns about the current streams are high on the political agenda. This report is a cross-country research into selected key features of population change and the integration of population groups with roots in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Turkey and Vietnam in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. The research has sought to achieve three objectives. The first is to determine how and when the groups came to the three Scandinavian countries and how they have since developed. The second is to analyze two aspects of the groups’ integration, namely their participation in education and their participation in the labour market. And the final objective is to provide a brief overview of the groups’ situation in each of the three countries with regards to economic development, immigration history and policy development.




For a long period of time Norway considered itself, for right or for wrong, a very ethnically homogeneous country. There has been an increasing awareness, however, that there has always been some heterogeneity, due to the presence of people with Sami and Finnish origins, as well as Rom, other travellers and a small Jewish population. We have also “always” had immigrants, although they have come mostly from neighbouring countries. These immigrants were specialists, who came to play a lead role in both the Christianization and modernization of Norway. They have also been more “ordinary” people, coming to take part in our social and economic life. During the last four decades, however, immigration has been on the increase from around the world. Immigrants from 219 differing countries and autonomous regions are now represented in Norway’s population (For a comprehensive account of Norwegian immigration history in English, see Brochmann and Kjeldstadli, 2008).


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