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Immigrants in the Nordic countries

28.02.22 | Tilastot
In an increasingly globalised world, it has become more common for people to move to new countries in search of employment, education or to escape war and poverty. Today, there are more than 3.5 million immigrants living in the Nordic countries.​

Definition: Here, an immigrant is defined as a person who is foreign-born and whose parents are both foreign-born as well. Descendants are defined as native-born but with two foreign-born parents.

Immigrants and descendants

Both groups are unevenly distributed across the Nordic Countries. Sweden has significantly more immigrants and descendants compared to the other countries, whereas Iceland has a markedly lower number. The number of immigrants and descendants in each country is of course dependent on national immigration policies but is also related to population size and thus capacity of each country to receive refugees as well as to attract foreign students and migrant workers.​


Immigrant share of the population

Through measuring the number of immigrants as a share of the total population of each country, the picture of a slightly more even distribution of immigrants among the countries emerges. Sweden still has a larger share of immigrants as compared to the others, but the difference is smaller than when using absolute numbers.


Age distribution

Immigrants are more likely to be of working age than native-born Nordic people. This shifts the age distribution of the Nordic population towards a slightly lower average age, thereby providing more able hands to outweigh the growing elderly population in the Nordic countries. The group aged 70 years or older is expected to increase significantly in the coming years.


Immigrants by length of stay

This chart shows how long immigrants have been staying in their current country as of 2019. The immigrants are distributed similarly across the countries except for Iceland, which has a large number of immigrants who have arrived within the last 0-3 years. This may be due to a great part of Icelandic immigrants being there to seek temporary employment.


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