On Perceptions and Facts: Immigrant Integration in Norway

The Aftenposten article that portrayed EUMARGINS’ research on inclusion and exclusion in Europe on April 16th 2010, was followed by a comment on April 24th, written by two masterstudents in cultural psychology. On May 18th, an answer to this comment written by EUMARGINS' project coordinator Katrine Fangen, together with the research assistants Brit Lynnebakke and Erlend Paasche, was published in the same newspaper, clarifying some of the main issues of the first presentation. Read their response article below.


In a recent reader’s letter, MA students Jonas Rønningsdalen Kunst and Hajra Tajamal argue against Olga Stokke’s presentation of our research project EUMARGINS. Citing unspecified reports, Rønningsdalen Kunst and Tajamal claim that a 2009 study done by Statistics Norway (SSB) reveals serious immigrant integration challenges. Bjørn Olsen’s SSB study from 2009, though, shows that youth less than 25 years old with immigrant parents perform almost at the same level as majority youth on the labor market and in the education system.

Descendants of immigrants do particularly well. Drawing on previous research, available statistics, etc., our first book1 presents a nuanced view of inclusion and exclusion of young immigrants in seven different countries in Europe. None of these countries are beyond reproach in terms of immigrant integration.

Different arenas

According to data from the OECD and Eurostat, Norway scores higher on the labor market participation of immigrants than the six other countries included in our project. Regardless of whether or not one is employed or pursuing higher education, however, one may still feel discriminated against. This is one of the main hypotheses of our project. Processes of inclusion and exclusion take place in various arenas including neighborhoods, education systems, labor markets and many others, and they change over time.

That some young people feel included although they do not opt for higher education is beyond dispute, although the majority of young immigrants do opt for it. “Fatima”, born in Norway of Pakistani parents, is in her early twenties. She met many of her friends through the kiosk where she works and thinks the Norwegian bosses are cool. “So that’s like where I want to stay,” she says. She is born and raised in Norway and feels at home here. When she is on holiday in Pakistan she feels like a stranger.


PhD student in medicine Gagan, who is born in Norway of Indian parents, has a different experience. “I think children of immigrants will always feel insecure, precisely because they are different, they are foreign, and they therefore want the acceptance and approval of others around them. Becoming a doctor is an easy way to get recognition.

1 Fangen, Katrine; Fossan, Kirsten and Mohn, Ferdinand Andreas  (2010) Inclusion and Exclusion of Young Adult Migrants in Europe – Barriers and Bridges, Surrey: Ashgate. Will be available on June 15th 2010.


By Katrine Fangen
Published May 26, 2010 12:00 AM - Last modified Sep. 22, 2010 2:01 PM