Oslo—The number of Norwegian teenagers who are sceptical about foreigners and say they feel immigrants threaten Norway’s national identity has nearly doubled in the past six years, according to a poll published on Monday.
Forty percent of Norwegian high-school students agreed with the statement that immigrants “pose a serious threat to our national distinctive character”, according to the poll, which was taken in connection with a countrywide school vote ahead of Norway’s general election on September 12.
That is nearly double the number of immigrant-skeptical youths found in a similar poll from 1999, according to Norwegian daily Aftenposten, which published the study.
Knud Knudsen, a sociology professor at the Stavanger University in western Norway, said: “This must be seen in connection with the terror acts in recent years in London, Madrid and the United States, where immigration has been linked to acts of terror and terror threats.”
Boys are more xenophobic
According to the study, which was conducted by the Norwegian Social Science Data Services (NSD) of about 5 000 students between the ages of 16 and 19, Norwegian boys are more xenophobic than girls.
The poll showed a full 50% of boys agreed or partly agreed with the statement that immigrants posed a threat, while only a third of the girls did.
Knudsen said the fact that the high-school students polled also gave record support this year to the far-right and immigrant-hostile Progress Party (FRP), landing it with 24.9% of the vote, should be seen in connection with the changing attitudes towards immigrants.
“At the school election, we saw FRP doing well among the young people, and that may explain some of it,” he said.
Adults not as negative as the teens
In Norway’s general election, which was won by a leftist coalition, FRP scored 22.1% of the votes, up 7.4 percentage points from the 2001 elections.
While there appears to be a slight increase in skepticism towards immigrants in Norwegian society as a whole in recent years, it doesn’t appear the adult population is as negative towards people of different origin.
Out of about 1 000 adults who were asked the same question as the high-school students, only 26% said they agreed with the statement about immigrants posing a threat, while 33% said they completely disagreed, according to the study.