Norwegians Are More Positive to Refugees than Immigrants in General

The study showes that public opinion has been stable on most issues since 2005, but there is a growing skepticism in relation to immigration.


The Norwegian Integration Barometer shows majority of Norwegians are positive about refugees, while they are skeptical about the success of immigrantion system in the country.

According to the survey, a record low number of respondents support the notion that “we should not let more immigrants into Norway.” However, simultaneously there is support for a reduction in the number of asylum seekers and family members of immigrants. More people than previously agree that Norway should accept more “refugees with a need for protection.” At the same time, a record low number think that immigration is good for the Norwegian economy. While the population is somewhat more positive than negative toward immigration on general questions, the respondents feel that the country should accept fewer immigrants than it currently does.

Concerns that immigration leads to a lack of security and terrorism, as well as beliefs that immigration threatens Norwegian values and the welfare state, split the population roughly in half.

The public’s view of immigrant integration

The Norwegian public is highly skeptical about the current status of immigrant integration. Almost half of the population thinks that immigrant integration is not going well, and only one-fifth finds the integration process to be successful. Norwegian language proficiency and work participation are widely seen as key requirements for immigrants to be counted as well integrated. Sharing basic Norwegian values or having Norwegian friends were seen as less somewhat less important requirements.

Attitudes toward diversity

The population shows moderate optimism on behalf of future relations “between the immigrant population and the rest of the population.” Those who report frequent contact with people of immigrant background are more optimistic than those who report less frequent contact. On the question of who should adapt to whom, the public holds the view that it is clearly the obligation of immigrants to adapt to the values and culture of the majority population. A reciprocal adaptation model (integration), where both sets of actors are to adapt to each other, also finds strong support. A model where cultural adaptation is not required by the immigrants (multiculturalism) finds little support.

Five out of 10 respondents express skepticism toward “people of the Muslim faith.” Two out of 10 are skeptical toward Christians. There are substantial variations in the skepticism toward Muslims. People within the highest educational bracket are less skeptical and no more skeptical toward Muslims than they are toward Christians. However, when asked about one’s children marrying partners of the Muslim faith, skepticism increases within this segment.

Tolerance and stereotypes

The survey also measured the population’s tolerance and the content of stereotypical views about specific immigrant nationalities (Somalis, Pakistanis, Poles, and Swedes). Using survey experiments, the study group found a wide reaching tolerance and little variation in the tolerance toward the different immigrant groups in regard to the right to gather in public buildings. In another experiment, the respondents were asked about their tolerance toward hiring teachers of different nationalities. Here the researchers found somewhat higher levels of reservation toward Somalis and Pakistanis. Overall trend While Norwegians are divided in their views on the number of immigrants coming to Norway and the benefits of immigration, they agree on the challenges of integration. A majority finds that integration is not working. Despite this, more have a positive outlook on the relationship between immigrants and the rest of the population. Language and work are seen as key requirements for integration. Cultural adaptation is expected of those that immigrate.

About the study:

The Norwegian Integration Barometer describes and analyzes the population’s attitudes toward immigration, integration, and diversity. The study has been conducted in eight waves since 2004, allowing for an analysis of trends in the attitudes among the Norwegian population. This version (2018) was conducted by researchers at the Institute for Social Research in Oslo during the fall of 2017 on behalf of the Norwegian Directorate of Integration and Diversity. The study is based on a broadly scoped survey among a representative population sample of 3,000 net web-panel respondents.

The report is divided into four thematic parts, describing and analyzing (i) attitudes toward immigration and immigrants, (ii) views on immigrant integration, (iii) issues pertaining to the new societal diversity, and (iv) tolerance and stereotypical attitudes toward immigrant groups.